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March 01, 2018

Around The World In 80 Ways

Text by Huzan Tata. Illustration by Rutuja Patil

Do you crave solitude when you’re on a family vacation — or yearn for someone to talk to when you’re flying solo? Our writer discovers that there’s no such thing as the perfect trip…

Fifteen minutes were left for us to catch our train from Penn Station opposite our hotel in New York City, and my brother hadn’t packed his bag yet. After a two-minute yelling from his darling wife, all he does is put his open suitcase next to the cupboard and, with one swift swish of the hand, throws all his clothes into it. “I’m done, let’s leave.” Shudder! Thank god I don’t share a room with this boy anymore, even if I occasionally have to bear with him on our family vacations.

But putting up with others’ crazy quirks and bad habits isn’t limited to siblings. And whether you travel with parents, friends, your spouse or even go solo, you will learn that there’ll always be room for complaint. But, isn’t that the beauty of travel? Learning to put up with different kinds of people, discovering things about people (I only came to know my favourite cousin was the human version of a bathroom-destroying hurricane when I shared a room with her on a summer trip to Delhi) and in the process, realising your own levels of patience and acceptance along the way — these are just some of the different things journeys teach you.

Speaking of patience, you sure need a lot of it when you travel with siblings, yes, but you probably need more when you travel with their better halves too. I don’t have a spouse yet so I’m not sure what the decorum after marriage is, but if my husband were getting us late for our next stop because he couldn’t decide whether the blue bowl in the Italian shop was prettier than the red one, there would definitely be great amounts of screaming from me. I absolutely adore my sister-in-law (anyone who can make my brother do his household chores on a daily basis has to be some kind of goddess), but since I can’t put up with my mother wasting two hours of a vacation inside a souvenir store, it’s harder for me to put up with people I can’t yell at. Though even if you can yell at other types of travel companions — like your best friends maybe — you’d probably be asking yourself why you befriended a person whose only talent is snoring the tune of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at an annoying decibel in the first place.

“Then why don’t you head off on a solo trip,” my inner voice and my friends who aren’t sticklers for clean bathrooms have told me on many an occasion. It is a lovely idea, but when the introvert in me implemented it last year on a three-day getaway to Bundi in the desert state of Rajasthan, I discovered why it’s not for everyone. For someone who doesn’t open up to strangers easily and breaks into a sweat when she has to meet new people, spending a few days with no familiar faces around — and as a result no one to talk to — made me crave for my home and my sloppy friends. And I learnt that sometimes introverts can also be social animals, in need of (familiar) human interaction!

So what’s the popular verdict then? When you’re stuck with them for days on end, siblings can actually drive you crazy, parents are likely to drive you even crazier (sorry mom, no matter how much you scream, I cannot get your WhatsApp to work when we’re on a cruise in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea) and friends may annoy you no end. I’m pretty sure spouses manage to do that too — dear future husband, you better behave on our honeymoon, as it’ll be too soon to see my true colours! All said and done, it’s the ultimate joy of creating memories and discovering new lands that matters most when you head off on vacations. There’s no right way to travel — whether you have a Rajshri-movie-style joint family or just your shadow for company, any kind of vacation is an opportunity to discover more about the world, and yourself too. I’m planning to leave behind my Eiffel Tower-sized fears of being alone in a foreign land for the first time as I head alone to Paris next month — in the hope of finding someone I can share all my future journeys with!

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