I need to travel – not want, need. I need to see new places, or old places again. Places that can be reached in an hour by road, and places that will take two whole days to reach by air (including the layover). Places that are so cold that I curse myself for not having packed clothes warm enough, and places that are hot and sultry, making me break into unsightly sweat within 5 minutes of stepping out. Places where I can smell freshly brewing coffees, wafting through the open doors of the roadside cafes. And places where I can taste the salt in the air, telling me that the sea is close.
I really need to travel. Walk on roads that are bounded by sky scrapers on both sides, so tall that I cannot see the top without the sun hurting my eyes. And roads that are littered with pebbles, even goat turd, that you need to carefully step around. Towns that are painted brown and have flowers growing on their window sills. Cities that are all grey and glass that reflects the sun. The countryside that is green till the eyes can see. Forests where the dry branches scrape your arms, and all you can hear is the call of unknown birds.
I need to travel to the mountains, where there are more waterfalls than people. Where you have to step on the precariously placed rocks to catch the best views. I need to travel to bustling cities where I am the tourist amongst the others who are just living their regular lives. In the subways and trams and also the shared autos and rented bikes. Merge in the crowds, and then be called out every time I decide to capture the moment on a camera. Walk around places I have seen on the television, read about in books, and soak it all in.
I need to travel to the sea, with sands so white, and waters so still you can see the sea bed. Or with sand so full of shells it is impossible to walk barefoot or with little crabs that go in and out of the tiny holes they make. With folks basking in the sun in their stylish swimwear, soaking in the sun, beer in hand, seafood in plates. Or with fisherman frying their fresh catch for you to enjoy, sitting next to them.
I need to travel so I can sit in a little roadside cafe and taste pretty cupcakes with my coffee. And stand in the rain waiting for the guy to hand me the roasted corn. Pick seafood off the counter and wait for it to be served, grilled, fried or roasted. And sit next to the lady who cooks fresh bhakri on the fire and hands it to me with the zunka. Have hot sambar wada at the small place on the highway, at 7 in the morning. And have fried calamari with chilled beers in a shack on the beach. Gorge on the makkhan parathas at the famous Makkhan Singh ka Dhaba.
I need to travel to be able to do all this more. But most of all, I need to travel because it makes me happy. I need to see as much of the world as I can or I will never know of the wonders it has to offer. There’s so much, that no way can I see it all, and frankly that’s not what I aspire for either. But then, there’s no harm in trying either.