When I was a kid, summer vacations meant no school. But they didn't mean going away to another place, much less another country. Of course, there was no money to go to another country back then but Dad didn't believe in travelling, even to a neighbouring town unless there was a specific need for it. At most he'd send us to a relative's place or to visit my grandparents. So, my earliest memories of vacations are limited to train rides to Mysore or bus rides to Mangalore and a stay at a relative's house. Of course, Dad got transferred to another small town but yet until much later, my experiences remained limited to Bangalore and some other parts of the state.
And then in college, I told Dad I would like to go and study elsewhere. To him, this was an absurd idea. Since he had himself grown up pretty much in hostels all over India, he didn't want to put us through that. Shocked as he was, he said something along the lines of, 'You get in first and then we'll talk'. That was when I travelled to a few more places in India for the entrance exams of prestigious universities. It's another matter that Dad didn't let me go to any of the schools I got into, but I am thankful that he at least let me travel to a few more places in the country.
A few years later, I moved to Singapore. Moving to Singapore was a fresh start for me. It was my first time staying out of home, living alone, earning my own money and living in a different country. Along with a lot of other firsts, Singapore opened doors to a lot of places around the country. In the first couple of years, I travelled to some of the neighbouring countries, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and each trip, although short was a new experience in culture and in travelling itself.
When I enrolled for my PhD, my scholarship gave me funds to travel to any place for one conference every year. I learnt from my fellow students that the conference was less important than the location where it was being held. Then started my experiences with real travelling. Using my scholarship, I travelled to Switzerland, Italy, Scotland and the United States of America. Each trip opened my eyes a little wider to how substantial and diverse a place the world really is. Every trip made me want to travel more. Although I enjoyed all my trips, the ones which let me grow the most, was when I travelled alone. It forced me to meet new people, experience new things, and take leaps of faith. It helped me to broaden my horizons just a little bit more.
It has been a while since I last travelled (if you don't count my annual trip to India). Travelling with Pickles will be a challenge to say the least. I know a lot of people do it and with great ease, but for me it will be new and it sure is scary. But I hope to travel more with him. I hope to take him to newer places and experience newer cultures with him. I guess it is true that we do for our children, what we lacked as kids. Just like my dad wanted to protect me from hostels because he had bad experiences, I want to give Pickles the gift of travelling early in his life, because I didn't have it.
This post comes right in time as I am planning our next vacation. I'm super excited, can you tell? After all, half the fun of a vacation is planning it and waiting for it. Don't you think so?