I vividly remember the first time I held my dad’s camera and clicked a photograph. We were on a family vacation to a lazy beach town north of Bombay. Standing on the beach just where the waves had left the sand wet, I decided to click the shutter button for the first time, having finally got the chance after much persuasion. The result, an almost sepia looking, glittering, black sand beach, at low tide with the waves far in the distance. The anticipation for the film to be developed must’ve been crazy but I don’t recall that bit. It was just surreal to be in a new place and to release that shutter pointing towards the mighty, intriguing Arabian Sea.
My fascination with photography and travel probably started further back to when memories do not serve. Beach and hill station getaways were plenty during summers from our home in Bombay City. I’m glad my parents introduced me to proper travel via local bus and train and not luxury and comfort escapes, no matter how much I secretly dreamt of flying off to a cozy British cottage in the woods. Today, I’m not a professional photographer or traveller but nothing else comes close to making me smile like them. It may not be said a lot, but there’s a fine line between being a tourist and a traveller. I’m currently walking on that line and it might be some time before I can truly comprehend and practice the difference but for now, I’m happy being both.
I do however, have a favourite part of travel and it keeps changing, evolving, growing. A couple months ago, in Hampi, Karnataka, it was sitting atop a hill staring into the unrealistic landscape trying to mentally capture the detail, at sunset, of the unique land below. Traveling in Himachal, just last month, I realised long bus rides in the night – staring out into the dark, zipping past trees, searching the darkness for the landscape outside make me happier. Finding a faint valley or a water body glimmering through brings a strange sense of calm and excitement to me. As the bus twists and turns along hills, being able to see stars – a million stars in the darkness between towns simply feels blissful. On a rainy night, my thoughts are clear as day and when I see the glittering droplets fall across my window like shooting stars or when a spray of brown, muddy water splashes afar as the bus speeds off, I feel like I finally understand the universe. Every time I squint through the dark and see these sights, it brings happy tears to my eyes. And, there will be many such little joys that captivate and help me think clearly, that lead to those moments of epiphany I can’t seem to come across in the city.
What’s your favourite part of travel?
😦 Unfortunately, the photograph is misplaced, but I’ll continue looking for it.