Life teaches you a lot of lessons, and often at times you least expect it to. I learned one such lesson this past month during a family trip to Himachal Pradesh. But first, some context.
Ever since the travel bug bit me some years ago, I have wanted to travel alone. I begin and end almost every single day with the hope that some day, not too far off in the future, I'll be able to pack my bags and leave. Without a specified date of return, without an address to write to. Just launch myself into the world with nothing or no one to pull me back. That's the dream.
But I have yet to gain enough freedom and financial independence to be able to realize this dream. Thus, in the meantime, I travel with my family every now and then. And by Joe, have I not travelled extensively with my folks over the years! Just within the last two years, I have been to Dharampur (HP), Agra, Jaipur, Goa, twice to Bombay and most recently to Pathankot (Punjab), Dharamshala and Dalhousie (both in HP). It's been great, all of it.
There has been, however, a nagging feeling on each of these trips. A feeling that I was not "travelling", but in fact just taking along all my baggage, troubles and little scruples of everyday life to whichever destination I travelled to. I love solitude. And on a holiday, I like to have as much time to myself as I can. To read, possibly find inspiration to write, to enjoy the sights and sounds of the place and to introspect. But on a family trip, I'd hardly ever get time to do any of this. My mom likes to 'plan' stuff while on vacation. How to beautify our home, how to divide chores amongst ourselves, what to wear on the upcoming wedding in the family, which spots to visit the next day, logistics, et al. Meanwhile, my elder sister likes to click truckloads of pictures (and mind you, not landscape shots) and watch television. My dad likes to watch television, for the most part, and take part in whatever my mother and sister are currently doing or talking about.
Which leaves me craving for some privacy and solitude. As I mentioned, I like to read and write, think, explore my surroundings and just generally relax and not indulge in anything that takes me back to Delhi, back to my everyday life. But I'm never really able to do any of that. So family trips often leave me bummed out a little. Not to be construed as a complaint though! I am thankful to my family and to the Almighty for blessing me with so many opportunities to see new places. And I love my family, no matter what. But I'm somewhat different in my tastes and interests. So being thrown together with the rest of my family members in 2 rooms on a holiday in an exotic location, and having to indulge in activities I abhor, isn't my ideal of a great vacation.
But all of this changed last month in Himachal. The trip was different this time; it was great in all respects. It was an unplanned sojourn - we didn't have our itineraries set for each day beforehand. Depending upon the weather and the mood, we either stayed in all day or set out to explore the place according to our comfort. I even managed to read nearly half a novel during the seven days I was there. We experienced incessant rains, we witnessed snow. We clicked some great photographs too. And for a change, instead of cringing at the prospect of clicking everybody's pictures, I was more than obliging to click as many as I was asked to. Why, because I had my brand new Canon 600D in tow! I was happy to exercise my photographic skills in every way I could. In the Himalayan climate, everybody instantly transforms into a more beautiful version of themselves. And the breathtaking locales lent such unspoiled magic to the pictures - they turned out just perfect.
I also discovered how to click selfies with my DSLR. And to click selfies with my family was probably the most fun thing I did on the entire trip. We laughed, we smiled, we posed insanely and we held each other's hands to avoid falling flat on the snow. It was a complete riot. I loved it. We all loved it. Here are my favourite pictures from the trip (clicked en route to Khajiar, 22 km uphill from Dalhousie).
|Okay, my eyes are closed. But who cares?|
And so, when the trip ended and we boarded the train from Pathankot to New Delhi, I sat back and reflected. Was this trip a success? Yes, it was. Did I not enjoy? Why, yes, I had an awesome time. Did I learn anything from this experience? Plenty. But foremost, I learned that family is family. We may differ in our choices and perceptions, we may not see eye to eye on most things. But we are a single unit and we're together in everything. And it's possible to have the most memorable time of my life, with my family, in whichever place I choose to. I just have to find my happiness in our togetherness. And I think I just did.
This trip was a really memorable one. I wish for many more such times to come. Just my family and I. Together in everything.
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