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Travel

A note from a frequent traveller

It’s going to be nearly six months since the world started its battle against the unknown. It’s been a long few month, each day a fight. And as we slowly limp towards the easing of lockdowns, uncertainty continues to loom.

The travel industry has been hit hard. Even as rules are being relaxed to allow people to cross borders, what is the future of a leisure traveller? Me and the BFF had been all pumped up to start planning our trip for June 2020 and were about to being work on the bookings – when the pandemic struck. Our travel plans have been put on hold till at least 2021.

For people who love to travel and thrive on it, these months have been difficult and uncomfortable. Especially for those who are conditioned to travel once in every 3 months (and yes, I exaggerate here), like Varun Pachisia. During one of those ‘checking up on friends and acquaintances’ conversations, Varun and I got talking about the state of leisure travel which ended with yours truly coercing Varun into penning down his thoughts for my blog.

Here’s what the man has to say…

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THE TIMES ARE-A-CHANGIN’

Travel has always been an outlet for me. It’s been a space where I can let out and deal with my emotions. It’s been a platform that serves as a view into a new world of the living, visuals and perspectives. Travel has and will always be one of the strongest pillars in my life – one I do and can depend upon; a pillar on which I can rest the weight of my tired and mundane mind.
Travel always has given in return…
Travel has always been bountiful…

But life as a traveller has come to a screeching pause, in a way that has left us all suffering from whiplash.

Suddenly, we live in an ‘interesting’ time – a time when the health of individuals and communities is at risk; a time where we, as a species, need to readjust our decades of taken-for-granted lifestyles and habits; a time where the freedom to move (to a park, different neighbourhoods, closer to nature, parts of your own country which surprised you, to faraway lands where you never knew what to expect) – none of it is the same.

For a traveller like me, the situation is painfully different, as it is for my fellow travellers around the globe. Each time I ponder over the emotions coursing through me, I realise I can categorise and identify the various stages of these emotions… perhaps you can too?

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The grapple with uncertainty
It all happened so fast, within a matter of weeks – from a piece of news in some distant part of the world to reality when it struck closer home (in proximity and effect). The gamut of thoughts was (and continue to be) mind-boggling. “Can I stick to my travel plans or do I think (rather reluctantly) of cancelling them? Should I reschedule? How long will this last? Where can I not travel to? Or rather, can I travel?”

A traveller’s ever hopeful soul
In a situation like this, the traveller in you is always convinced that this too shall pass and “it’s only a matter of months.” This is the optimistic thought that makes you hold on to your travel plans (bookings et al) till the end. Up till that last second when you inch towards the final act of cancelling. And amid all this, because you hope that in a few months down the line all will be normal (as per your limited knowledge and calculations), you move those travel plans to later! Because freedom of movement would return, why would and could it be otherwise?

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When realization & acceptance come knocking
As Chris Martin croons ‘and the hardest part was letting go, not taking part’… its gradual, the sinking in and realisation that what humanity is facing is much bigger than anything it ever has on every possible scale – you sit back and count your blessings. Because let’s be honest, it’s huge, this reality that you are in a comfortable space when compared to scores of others. You are blessed, cliched as it may sound.

Finding support in nostalgia
The mood instigated by this ‘Time’ – one of reminiscing over memories of people, of handshakes and hugs, laughter and conversations, of magical places and experiences. Nostalgia has, unconsciously, been the support that I’ve relied on to get over this feeling of melancholy that has been pestering this travelling soul. I’ve pulled out photographs from travels past to observe the combination of light and colours. I’ve caught my fingers running over streets and metro lines in one of those city maps I’ve stored. I’ve found myself smiling to myself while remembering the insightful conversations and deeply embedded eyes of souls I’ve met along the way. These are pictures in my head, the kinds that have always held a special place and now more than ever, with a new dimension of vigour and sense of belonging, of a source of smiles and tunes.

Inching towards a hopeful future
Movement and travel may never be the same again. Things will change and your guess is as good as mine on the how and why! But one thing all of us are certain about is that we’ve learned to appreciate and value – a visit to a park, meeting friends at your favourite bar, a hike in the mountains, losing yourself in a faraway land, dancing to foreign tunes – the next time, whenever that is, and the time after will be ‘extra special’.

You can learn more about Varun Pachisia in conversation we’d had a long long time ago: 50 Countries and Counting

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