“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live”- Hans Christian Anderson.
Travel to me has always been a rewarding experience, be it a long vacation in the Himalayas, or the shorter ones at the nearby Kodai hills. A travel is indeed shifting in time, place and mood. Have you ever wondered how a tour looks like to the woman of the house, with two little ones? A disaster, I say! When the whole family starts on a “yearly family vacation”, you ought to vacate the house (literally!). A paraphernalia of child articles – starting from the giant sized diaper pack to the flasks, baskets, milk powder, bibs, utensils to sterilise, electric kettle, truckloads of towels and dresses, have to be neatly packed in ‘just two suitcases’ as per the instruction of the man of the house. “Travel light!”, he keeps reminding you, as you pile up luggage after luggage.
The journey is a miserable procession if you are travelling by a car, with multiple pitstops for food, diaper change, bottle change, and what not. You step down at the posh resort hoping against hope that you might visit your favorite joints of the town, but junior 2 decides to have a ball yelling his lungs out. Ear infection, too cold to take him out, he is tired and umpteen suggestions later, you are left with the peacefully sleeping infant in your arms at the resort room, while the rest of the family roams the town. Grown up kids? Well, the problems are different here. When child 1 has exams, child 2 has vacation and vice-versa. Schools have the perfect knack of splitting vacations for the children. If you still can plan one involving everyone in the family, then you’ve hit the jackpot.
Every woman needs her ‘me time’
A woman all through her life spends more time worrying about the family and caring for them. The most ‘me time’ women might have enjoyed would be BM and not AM. Marriage is that barrier that cuts short the ‘me time’. The best ‘me time’ a married woman can get is the evening ‘TV soap time’ that eats into her senses and time. Still, there are partners who understand the working women and share the travails of mundane everyday activities like cooking and cleaning. But who else can share the personal time and private space that most women need and are constantly denied?
Taking time off from family is itself a ‘crime’ to conservative families. “Look at your mom! Did she ever travel alone even to the neighourhood ghee shop?”, will be the first missile that one encounters when she announces her plan for a solo trip. The husbands and partners are a willing lot, in fact most of them encourage the women travelling alone or in groups, so long as they get the mothers and fathers-in-law to care for the children. It is P-A-R-T-Y-T-I-M-E when the wifey is on tour! Who steps in and stalls these endeavors of the women? Her parents, of course! Starting from lectures on ‘responsibility towards family’ to citing examples of such ‘free’ women from the near and dear families, they will try their best to reverse your decision. Then comes the hardest part – planning a womens’ only trip.
I tell you, planning a trip with women is harder than NASA sending women to space. You may be a rocket scientist and plan your moves well, but to your girlfriend, you are always the ‘careless bugger’ who doesn’t know the difference between passport and ration card. When you decide on visiting the museum, one of the ‘ gangsistas’ will suggest go-karting. Come on, you visit Mahabalipuram seashore sprinkled with 1,000 year-old temples, and your girl plans go-karting on the beach sand. Ah, I should thank my stars for the ‘me time’, watching the adventure freak go-karting as I look longingly at the temple towers looming behind us.
Who must you go with
Finding a friend who shares the same passion as you, is the foremost prerequisite for planning a trip with friends. Even if friends don’t cooperate, try making friends on group tours. Depending on your likes and dislikes, you may end up making your best friend or worst enemy at the end of the trip. What is wrong in trying? Solo trips are much easier, but try telling that to the family, you will be met with glances cold enough to melt a glacier. Solo trips are for the more adventurous of the tribe, not for centrally controlled women like us. We are left with no choice than being stuck with the go-karting girl. Hobson’s choice, you see!
Three of us women friends planned a trip to a town two hours away from our city recently. The moment we planned a trip, the ‘permission phase’ was planned as a week. One week to obtain permissions for a day long trip starting and ending the same day! Next came the where to go and what to see. Thankfully we three were interested in heritage and so we discussed what to see and what not in our whatsapp group, and were armed with loads of information before we set off on our journey. The travel again was thankfully in the car of one of us, and we ensured we had the known ‘driver anna’ to ensure safety in case of trouble. The morning departure got delayed because our senior friend planned to cook idlis for breakfast. I had the luck of packing off straight from home without the mandatory ‘cooking ritual’ of the day. Lucky me!
We set off to “Chaliye Puducherry to Vanakkam” and roamed about famed temples and churches of the town. We were greeted with total casualness and calm wherever we went, as the three musketeers. A visit to the town’s famed restaurant for lunch and burp…we were ready for another round of street walking. We bought flower crowns to adorn our heads and took groupies. Then another one, posing with a pouting smiley cushion. Then another hugging the century old lamp post. And another through soap bubbles floating by the beach. I don’t remember when I had felt so care-free and happy as we sat on the rocky beach, our hair being whipped apart by the wind. The waves roared, echoing the happiness in us and as we blabbered and laughed till tears shone in our eyes, came the alarm call. “Where are you?”, the dreaded question echoes cutting above the noise of waves. “We are about to start”, I say in a quiet, clipped voice. Another of our friends gets her call, “Mom, where and what shall I order for dinner?”, and the bubble is burst. We sit back in the car, listening to Janaki humming la-la-la-la, with mixed emotions. Sad that the day was about to end and happy to reminisce the trip and the happiness.
Once a while, it is okay to be free. Once a while, it is alright to take some ‘me time’ off. It is perfectly normal to go on a girls-only trip, occasionally. Once a while it is good to break away from the mundane and do unexpected things. It is alright to do all that you want and not feel guilty about it. As I type this, my passport leaves flutter near me, reminding me of the next ‘girls-trip’ I will be embarking upon by the week end to Bhutan. They say Bhutan is the land of the thunder dragon. Hopefully, thunder dragon will meet this woman worse than him/her. And I will be back to tell the stories from Druk Yul!