I am off to Bangalore (again!) in a few hours. I randomly decided about 3 weeks back that I would go off to Bangalore for Rashmi’s birthday. Part of the reason for the same was that I was told that I am not allowed to stay at home alone (my grandmom and uncle are off to Phuket on a family holiday.) For me, this was a wonderful opportunity to head to Bangalore and take off on a little backpacking trip around Karnataka. For a change, I didn’t complain or fight. I just quietly smiled to myself though I couldn’t resist a few comments about how they all think (except my uncle who found the whole thing absurd) it is safer for me to be living in some dump in some part of Karnataka as opposed to staying at home all alone.
In this light, I have been musing on something over the past couple of weeks. Having time but no money is a strange experience for me. I am used to having lots of money but no time and I am used to having no money and no time. However, having the time to take a 25 hour journey all the way to Bangalore for one of my best friend’s birthday is a luxury I could not have afforded when I was working. In fact, it saddens me to note that despite living in the same city, while working, I was unable to attend any of her birthdays for 2 years. I missed friends’ engagements, weddings, birthdays and all occasions of note. Instead, I spent money I earned by giving up valuable memories and time on shoes. In retrospect, how foolish of me!
To me, there is nothing more valuable than my time right now and the freedom I have to choose how I want to spend it, even if it involves sleeping all day long. While, I do try and keep myself occupied either by reading, writing or learning and more recently, planning a host of travel itineraries (including a trip to Rajasthan, one to Eastern parts of India and an overland backpacking trip to South East Asia), there are times when I simply do nothing and enjoy that as well.
Having time and the freedom to choose how I spend it is somehow translating into lesser money being spent. For starters, I can travel by train and depending on how low one is willing to travel, long journeys can be made for a fraction of the cost of a flight. I am still travelling like a diva but I am hoping to bring it down to the absolute basics. For short journeys, I have already done that but for the slightly longer ones, I am still spending more than I would like to. However, I am okay with it for the time being because I am comfortable with the idea of giving myself the space and time to adjust to this kind of lifestyle. The important thing is to start and from there, I can make modifications to simplify it further. I am just afraid that if I take it too far from the beginning, I might not find the experience enjoyable. Slowly easing myself into it, seems like a more sensible thing to do. And of course, I have all the time in the world!
I am notorious for overpacking. I could carry 20 kilos of things for 3 days of travelling. Partly because, I don’t plan my packing and partly because I suffer from ‘just in case’. What if I need this pair of shoes and that handbag? Tonight, while packing, I packed 3 sets of clothes for a 20 day trip, a host of basic toiletries, 2 pairs of shoes (a pair of sneakers and a pair of flip flops), a night suit, a shawl, a light sweater, a thin towel and some other basic travel gear. I am carrying two small backpacks and I now realise that I need to invest in a rucksack. The backpacks are light and there is a method to the seeming madness of the packing. The biggest challenge with respect to packing has been (a) not carrying a laptop, and (b) not carrying any reading material (except for Lonely Planet India). Instead, I downloaded some e-books on my IPod Touch and am hoping that that will suffice. I am finally beginning to understand why so many people carry Kindles. For an avid reader like me, not having a book to read would drive me nuts. Unfortunately, books are heavy and one would not suffice for me. My IPod should also double up as a device to surf the internet (provided I have access to WiFi, of course).
The next few weeks will involve me having to wash my clothes (an activity I absolutely abhor), live on dosas (which I love) and travelling the way most of India travels (except for the long train journeys but all in good time!) My budget is a little high and can be reduced further but that is another thing I have to figure out along the way. I am not the most street smart person I know, unfortunately. On top of that, I am terrible at directions and have no road sense. More than anything else, I think I need to worry about getting lost.
I get back to Mumbai on January 8, 2012. I will probably be bringing in the new year in some small hotel in some part of Karnataka either alone or with some friends made along the way. At the end of this trip, I expect to have some sort of direction and a few things figured out for myself.
This little girl is off to find herself a happy ending… in 3.5 hours! Yay!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.