Traveling has always attracted me. The curiosity to visit new places , meet new people, try out new cuisines excites me every single time when I look forward to a trip. The childhood memories include me visiting places within my home state and also out of it many times. I do not recall all the details but all I do is remember is the smiling faces of my parents with phases of unpleasantness when my parents like every young couple, had their little arguments. The black & White pictures which have now gone brown do say a lot of happy stories. I think my fondness to travel has to do a lot with the genes that I have inherited from my parents.
But as me and my siblings grew up and the importance of our studies took precedence over anything else, the travel diaries were kept closed in the corners of the house for a very long time. Like every family, we had our phases too, I guess! So, in those growing up years, travel for me was majorly looking forward to picnics & excursions in the school. A day’s affair was all it was but the overwhelming feeling that we kids used to have weeks before the D day, still gives me a joyful smile whenever I remember my eventful school days.
Apart from picnics , there was one more thing that made me really happy was the Inter Zonal Sports Championships which involved us preparing ourselves for around four to six months prior to taking part and winning trophies for our respective schools. These trips were for 4-5 odd days and involved a lot of discipline . Being active in sports was one of my hobbies and I was a part of Athletics team & a few team matches, There used to be a responsibility on each of our shoulders . And that was not to return empty handed. To win at least one medal and be worthy of the entire contingent was the prime objective. The days would start as early as 4 :30 am in the morning and end by around 8:00 pm with dinner and a lot of bonfire gossips unless our Sports teachers came marching towards us and scolded us to retire for the day and have a good nights sleep. The focus was on performance and we all were pumped and had to deliver under any circumstances. I remember one funny incident in one such trips where we were in our adolescent years and some of the boys had mustered the courage to visit the girls housed in separate hostels . It was a heroic move back then. I did have a crush on one of my classmates and seeing him made me smile from one ear to another that night. I remember when our Sports Sir got the news and within few minutes, there were strict orders to empty the girl’s campus. There was, no doubt embarrassment on many faces who after lot of calculations had braved it all to show themselves for their ladies that night as a token of whatever you can think of! When I look back, it seems so childish and funny and I laugh it off many times. But , thanks to such frequent trips , I got to live such experiences!
There were many of my friends who in order to score more, would curtail all plans to even participate in any extra curricular activities back then. But thanks to my parents, they have always had a very outward outlook towards life and hence they have supported me through out my journey of life & my decisions so far . It was because of their motivation , that year after year, I kept participating and winning trophies. Not to mention that , even after one incident when I was the only one to be left behind by the School group in one such Tournament and after a lot of tussle , my parents were able to find me, the next year I was again part of the Sports team! Many had thought that , after almost losing the child, my parents would not let me play or travel. But just the opposite happened. I not only continued to play, I travelled extensively wherever required. And that of course raised a lot many eye brows.
The next part of my travel experiences happened when I was a NCC cadet which involved a lot of camps along with a lot of physically tough exercises ( I was part of the Army wing) and I feel proud to have been able to complete all my assignments , attended all the prescribed camps and meet so many youngsters of different states! The interactions with many of them are still fresh in my memory and I made a lot of friends ,for a very long time till life happened and I lost touch with many of them. NCC days were always special and will forever remain special. May be someday, I will be able to write the little details of all the experiences I have had during those days.
I do not know if it has to do with travel or not, but the choice of my specialization during my MBA days was marketing . A lot of girls chose HR , saying the future job will give them stability and that is what is important for a woman! Well, I never understood their concept and though I liked HR and Finance as subjects but marketing was where my heart was. Especially branding as an idea has always excited me and after entering the professional world, where I joined as a Asst. Manager & then went to become a Product Manager handling a complete product portfolio and was in charge of every aspect of it, be it pricing, to availability to meeting the demand etc. I got a lot of opportunity to learn many new aspects of my job. Well , these roles, helped me travel new places, understand the market dynamics , meet new vendors, strike conversations with mostly all strangers and most importantly handle new challenges. It was definitely hectic, but I loved every part of it. With increasing years, my responsibilities too increased many fold and I was about to travel abroad when suddenly life gave me a big jolt on the personal front and the course changed.
I had to take a U turn and my current job is a kind of stationary job which does not need me to travel far and wide. Do I miss my earlier Corporate Career ? Yes, definitely I do! Do I regret being in the current role, No , Not at all! After all these years, I have understood that life moves on and whether you want it or not , you also have to flow along with it. Even this phase has taught me a lot of things. Travel for me has changed its meaning. Earlier I used to travel, mostly to either prove myself or get any task accomplished. Now when I travel, it is a quest to find my own self. I might travel outward, but this is also the time , when I pause and disconnect from the outer world and try to travel inwards to find my own self. Life teaches you so many thing with its twists and turns. And one more change with the current phase of my travel is to find a moment of quietness, to turn everything off and just be with self. Earlier , it was altogether a different ball game, where the target of making things happen kept me on my toes, the adrenaline rush was just too high and often I would feel burned out after completing my tours .That has changed to a phase where now travel is more of a rejuvenation for me. More than the glitter factor, what I focus is whether it fulfills these parameters . A pause with the nature is my favorite. And unlike many , I love taking the pictures of the serene nature more than my own selfies. Later, I however come back and become grumpy of not having clicked enough pictures of my own self. But the pristine nature is so mesmerizing that I just can not stand my own face in the frame in comparison to the beauty of the pure nature !
On a different note, my own home state, Odisha is a treasure house of beautiful, serene & sublime tourist destinations and I am yet to explore all of it. As they say, a tiny patch of darkness lies just below the ignited diya! Just like that ,in spite of being closer to such magnificent sites, I have not been able to discover them myself . The State of Odisha it has mostly been always promoted as a state with many religious sites. The Golden triangle of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack & Puri is what always gets highlighted. Not to deny this, but there is also another face of the State tourism , that need to be projected and promoted . This is just tip of the iceberg .I found this video, which aired on Discovery channel and probably this will help you understand what I am trying to say. Do watch it .
So, until next time when I get ready for my next vacation with my friends, which will probably happen after the lock down is over and the restrictions are no more there ( keeping my fingers crossed), you too can plan a trip to my Home State, Odisha and explore it yourself!
After all, Odisha , as per the official tagline of the Tourism Department is India’s Best Kept secret. So, why wait then , lets travel , take the journey and unleash the mysteries lying hidden in the corners of mother Nature and also within the very corners of our own self.
Do, let me know your thoughts too.