You don't need the deductive skills of Benedict Cumberb... oops, Sherlock Holmes, to spot the 'avid traveller' on your Facebook friend list. Unlike your albums -- filled with pictures of pizzas or selfies showing off the new pair of aviators -- theirs' are mostly flooded with mountains, close-ups of chai in kulhars, sunsets or 'local' children frolicking around. Their Facebook page exists to judge us silently and occasionally turn us green with envy.
While we, the obvious 'non-travellers', grapple with plebeian concerns like mortgages, unwanted pregnancies and the exact ratio of wheat to oats to maida in our biscuits, these enlightened ones drink from the fountain of wanderlust. At least, their Instagram feeds do.
A while ago, I had the opportunity of observing, up close and personal, the phenomenon that is the "avid traveller". Since I am on cordial terms with the said person, I will say the trip we went on together was quite eye-opening.
If you're curious about what travelling with a 'traveller' is like, here's what goes on:
1) Your brain will turn into mulch, trying to narrow down a place you actually want to see and yet isn't so mainstream that it will hurt the avid traveller's avid travelling credentials. Their interest in a place is inversely proportional to how many people know about it.
2) You think it's a two-hour flight to your destination? YOU'RE WRONG. It's that, a cab ride and if you are very lucky, perhaps even a long bullock cart journey to the destination that will make fellow insta_travellers lose their peace of mind.
3) If your journey involves flying, the ordeal will start at the airport itself. They will wince when you meekly whisper "check-in luggage" and their pores will bristle if you show up with a suitcase instead of a backpack.
4) They will regale you with trivia about the place for the entire duration of the flight. You'll wonder why you need to know the population density and literacy rate of the state, but never mind that. If they've made the effort to Google and memorise information, you are expected to hear it in silent supplication. Put away your Kindle and eye mask, already.
5) Here's the silver lining, you will literally have to make no effort to do any research of your own. Where to go, how to get there, what's good to eat, they've got it all covered.
6) Travellers are like wedding photographers -- they'll magically appear with their cameras every time you attempt to put a morsel of food in your mouth. It doesn't matter whether you're eating Maggi at a roadside thela or butter chicken at the Taj, they will photograph you without your permission and you will want to empty the platter on their heads.
7)They will tch-tch and tsk-tsk, every time you check your email (if you have internet that is) or make contact with your life, outside this travel universe. Internet is acceptable only so long as you're using it to tell strangers what food you ate and the life lesson you learnt today. Free hostel Wi-Fi FTW.
8) While some of these 'travellers' have renounced most other worldly pursuits that don't let them use the hashtag #travellerforlyf, they lose no time 'adding' foreigners (preferably white people) they have met on these trips. Come on, don't snigger like that - remember what they say about the world being your oyster and every foreigner a potential Facebook 'friend'?
9) And when you're back home, the 'avid travelling' rituals don't end. How could you not like all the 57 sunset photos? They may have looked the same to your untrained, average, non-traveller eyes, but it's not their fault that you can't tell between orange, orangey orange, very orange, orange-like orange and it's-just-orange. Also, you are clearly ungrateful if you haven't appreciated the 16 photos of you/them eating pani puris; 183 photos of them hanging out with the locals or 67 photos of sharing hookahs with foreigners.