Travel- is a hobby inculcated in me by my father, an avid traveler who visited half the countries on the globe so far. My first memories of travel are of a South India trip that he took us all on when I was six or seven. Those were the days of innocence and pure joy. Those were the days when we were too happy to travel in a car to notice that it didn't have air conditioning or that we had to give it a push now and then. I remember being awe struck by the royal procession of Mysore during Dussehra. I remember the joy of seeing the Ooty fog for the first time ever and being thrilled to visit the valleys and tea estates that one only sees in movies. Our rented ambassador wouldn't crank up in the cold morning so we had to push it to start. The journey down hill with the windows open and the cold breeze hitting our faces till our nose and ears turned red. My first encounter with some Caucasian tourists, I was so intrigued by their colour and language that I couldn't help gape at them. When the silencer fell off the car, we were still too happy sitting in the loudest car on the road and having passers by stare at us. The picturesque drive from Chennai to Mahabalipuram along the beach, the famed VGP gardens and the popular ship hotel in it, the visit to crocodile Park and of course the beach temples of Mahabalipuram are still a happy memory.
When I was around ten, my father bought his first car, a Maruti 800, I refuse to believe that it is same as the tiny 800s that I see on road today. Somehow it felt much bigger and better, or maybe it was me who was tinier and too full of innocence to realise there were better makes and models available in the market. It was our very first car and so it was the best car in the world for me. On our trip to Tirumala in it, we were all so excited when our tiny Maruti zyppied past all the old ambassadors and buses that were wearily chugging uphill. With the car came our many trips to Hyderabad during our school vacations. We were four kids and three adults packed in the car along with all our baggage and still would manage to play and have fun in the journey. Holiday began in the car. Roads were much more emptier and bumpier. Huge trees lined on either side of the highway for miles and vast open fields as far as one could see. The hills and rock formations announced one's arrival into the Deccan plateau from the plains of Andhra. A ruin of a tomb or an old masjid would mean that the city was approaching. Big cities scared me when I was a kid. They were far too noisy and crowded for my liking and the streets, so many and so confusing. Back then we relied only on my dad's navigation to get from one place to another in the city and he never went wrong! To this day he would find his way in and out of a new city faster than I can using my Google maps.
During summer when we went to our native village in Andhra, the drive was so beautiful, with lush green paddy fields and quaint little villages. The irrigation canal and the passing ox carts and farmers working in their fields,the palm and coconut trees lining the fields the very scenery made me feel like I have come home. Our village, Nalluru in guntur district was so beautiful with its shiva temple and pond next to it, the lotus flowers in the pond that I always wanted to pluck but wouldn't dare step in.
When I think about travel I always think of those magical days of childhood, not that the places I visited were exotic or the ride I sat in was luxurious but because I was so happy experiencing it and so thoroughly enjoyed it. Travel to me is to spend time with the people you love and live the moment with them.