Nostalgia is tricky emotion. It is a feeling of sadness that stems from a happy once-upon-a-time. It is also where a lot of stories come from. And everyone knows travel and stories are two sides of the same coin. Ibn Batuta thought so too.
I am extremely fortunate that my family laid the foundation for innumerable stories, most of which started with us in the back of a car -- never a big luxurious SUV, but we didn't care. Our big book of adventure involved winding roads, chai stalls, driving through crowds and staying in dharamsalas. We didn't mind at all. Each holiday meant fun and games with our cousins and on more than one occasion, the grown-ups joined in as well. If I could sum up my entire travelling childhood and what it taught me, it would look something like this:
1. BE ADVENTUROUS
My parents didn't really believe in the concept of "advance booking" anything. We stayed wherever there was room -- guesthouses, at the homes of distant relatives. And often, those relatives joined us for the next leg of the journey. It was really quite simple and uncomplicated. Have car, must travel.
2. EXPLORE MORE
What would you do without TripAdvisor and Google Maps? Back then, we talked to people! I remember becoming friends with a guide in Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh, who insisted on performing "Tum toh thehre pardesi" for all us kids every opportunity he got. I remember this though it happened over 17 years ago (I feel old)! We discovered German bakeries that were basically in someone's house, somewhere near Dharamsala. We jumped into wells to cool off when it got too hot on the road. We did all this and not a Facebook check-in to prove it.
3. CREATE MEMORIES
We rarely travelled in groups of less than eight. And that never seemed like too many people anyway. In our little holidays, we experienced a lifetime together -- the happy highs and the tiresome lows, like when a tyre gave out. But we ventured on together finding strength in company and looking out for each other, like a family does.
4. TRAVEL DEFINES "FAMILY"
A childhood of travelling taught me that a family that eats together should also travel together to stay (happily) together.
5. STAY GROUNDED Travel doesn't have to be about everything being perfect. We learnt to embrace everything that came our way. It wasn't about checking into the most luxurious of hotels (although we welcomed that too), it was about the journey, it was about sleeping in the car and having "bed tea" with your dad in your van-bed. Would you trade that for anything in the world? I wouldn't.