This is the most common sentence my father used to speak when I was in Bengalooru, little did I realize it is the best philosophy to carry forward in life. This blog is about the trip I went on Christmas holiday. Why is it so important or why is it blown out of proportion, well to know that read along.

I never travelled a lot in childhood. Due to monetary constraints or growing up in a joint family, a holiday meant everyone came to our place. I hated the fact that holidays was the time I had to share the bed, dress, toys with cousins and second cousins whom I met only in holidays. The ‘After Holiday’ essay in school was usually about an article I used to read in Deccan Herald about a historical place. I didn’t want to be left alone in the class who never travelled in holidays. Slowly growing up, I had a fear in me to travel. I always thought I would lose something while travelling, packing is a pain, unpacking is even more irritating, no good bathrooms, it’s unsafe and so on were my reasons. The real reason was I was really scared to do it to be taking responsibility, to plan and execute it.

I overcame this fear in this holidays. I know it sounds silly but everyone’s fear is different and it’s not always easy to overcome it. My cousin (let’s call him PhD baay)  who was lost in the pragmatic world of pursuing PhD in Robotics from TUDelft thankfully wrote a mail to me asking if I could travel with him/group for a trek/hike. He is one of the wittiest in the family, did really well in studies and most importantly well behaved. Somewhere down the line pursuing his dream he lost in touch with most of us (maybe he never found a nerdy topic to talk to us 😀 ). He planned a hike to Ardennes Belgium and places around it. There were two more who joined us, the nerd girl and gujju baay. The supposedly fantastic four set out to travel together. These 3 are veterans in travelling, older than me and also quite nerdy. They knew the business of travelling so well that I had jaw-dropping movements all the time. They all were in Europe since their masters almost around 8 years. In their early 30’s they had an amazing sense of judgments and quick decisions. Before that I spent Christmas with my flatmate and almost my family member’s extended family in Belgium. I swear I never missed family there.

I still remember the mail I wrote to my cousin as to how much to spend, how much of luggage to bring. I pretty much carried everything from Barcelona. I paid double the airfare to carry my extra luggage which was totally unnecessary. We were wearing jackets, scarfs and every kind of warm cloth I could ever think of. It was important to carry necessary things. This is exactly what my father tells me about travelling light. It also philosophically means not take a lot of things very seriously in the journey called life. I think we are naturally biased, judgemental people. It’s very difficult to let go off the harshet things someone says to us, but trust me it’s important to let go off that feeling rather than sitting and hatching plans to give a comeback to them. Well lets get back to the trip.

Ardennes forest is a region of extensive forests, rough terrain, rolling hills and ridges formed by the geological features of the Ardennes mountain range and the Moselle and Meuse River basins. It is primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg but stretching into Germany and France. I was very happy to spend time here because most attractive tourist destinations disappoint me. We as a family spent quite a lot of money on seeing Paris and I was thoroughly disappointed about the Eiffel Tower and Monalisa. So I decided to find exotic locations and travel through.

We booked an Airbnb accommodation nearby and rented a car to travel around. Having your own transport in villages are beneficiary especially in winter. I and PhD baay had decided to play only Kannada tapanguchi songs during the travel and made a playlist accordingly. In a way, it was to relive our childhood. Surprisingly gujju boy also joined in with his Tamil collections. It was one hell of a ride to the trails. All of us are vegetarians (gujju boy was extreme – Vegan) so we had our stock of bread, juice and veggies. It’s important to know how to cook when you travel. All those luxuries that Amma will cook for you is a bad state of mind. Day one was interesting. Due to a novice like me, all 3 had to shift to an easier trail. PhD baay called it as walking not even trekking. I had to prep up my body and mind with the physical effort to be put forward. It was 3 degrees but someone from Bengalooru who had a comfortable constant 15 degrees it was really cold. The layers of clothing to wear and to walk really fast was a challenge to me. The first day was about 14kms of a small hillock. We had maps provided by the tourism development boards (which Karnataka needs to learn) and extremely clean trails. I learnt how to read a physical map there. Half the time all 3 were picking my case making jokes about me and countering the silliest dialogues I was speaking of. I thought it was in good humour but at a point, it became a little too much for me to show anger but yes these Phd people would have seen a lot of Masters students like me and their everyday job is to pick on them.The trail was beautiful, it was just a warm-up for the next day difficult hike. Of course, the tourism board was biased only towards men to provide them urinals in the middle of the trail, I and nerd girl had our frustrations to speak on the biases of the world. Well we tried to become part of nature (you know by what 😀 )

We climbed up to see this, of course, the monkeying around the two DSLR’s and other mobile phones to get the perfect pictures for our memories took us the whole day to cover this trail. The sun sets at 4 pm or so in winter here. For someone like me, my sleep cycle is so much adjusted to the Sunrise and Sunset I yawned a lot after 4 pm. Again a joke-cracking moment for them. The PhD baay, as usual, had his riddles to entertain which I brushed it off by diverting the topic. I think in my life I never did put so much of effort for something just to see a fantastic view like this. It was mostly these 3 who kept on motivating me and told me that I could do it. The promised hike was with snow, but the temperature was merciful on me. I was disappointed but if it really happened,  I would have almost dropped out! I am deliberately not getting into the details of height, flight tickets, easier way to travel because it’s important to find that on our own.

The second day was almost a torture to me. It really required a lot of highs and steeps to cover. I had never done this in my life. It was important to push myself to it. Halfway through I almost had tears where my knee started aching, my head started spinning. It was a check on my physical fitness where 3 months in a new city I never did any physical exercise other than yoga very irregularly. It is the most important aspect of our life. Suddenly the baays stopped the fun and helped me out crossing those hurdles easily. All the dialogues which I wanted to tell after the trek just flew down the river because they helped me out. The happiness of finishing the trail cannot be matched to anything in the world. The accomplishment that feeling is amazing. In that cold,  I was sweating due to so much of physical effort. With all those aching legs and tears I had the best time of my life. This is an experience everyone should really have. Just pushing yourself above your limits and achieving it is an amazing feeling.

 

The third was reserved for the nearby village visits. The 3 I travelled with are the best people I could travel with. Going by the amazing things that they have been doing and will embark it is amazing. The one thing amazing with them is definitely their conversation in French, Dutch which comes with a lot of fluency. I see gujju baay studied in Gujarati medium and his french was mostly perfect. Me and Nerd Girl had a discussion on it saying English has become our limiting factor. The more we know English, more arrogant we tend to become and ignorant towards others language.

Well, what’s a great trip without meeting new people? I went to meet a family, a young Indian couple very professional and also very warm in their speech and action. I got to know the husband moved to Netherlands because the wife was doing her PhD. This is such a big step for a patriarch Indian society to give importance to women’s career as well. I felt really happy and proud that such a change is observed. Generally, it’s a man’s career given too much of importance and always a woman sacrifices for it. Here the true marriage vows were observed to be together and to grow together. It’s such a refreshing change. 27 years before, my mother had to give up her career for various reasons where in her own likes was not even considered but looking at the young couple I feel how wonderful the society has moved forward in providing equal opportunities to women as well.

My cousin with all his excellent analytical skill, intelligence is also a wonderful cook now. His brother as well. I cannot imagine how far have we come to meet in Europe but before a meeting was always at our home in Jayanagar. It’s beautiful that we met, spoke Kannada and had all the hearty laugh reminscing our childhood. Ofcourse we spoke serious stuff about where life takes us afterwards. Meeting my father’s friend in Belgium who was single-handedly responsible for building an Indian bank branch was even more of a thrilling story.

While talking this, I was reminded of what my father always said just travel light in life, do not carry any pieces of baggage of hatred, let go of negativity and always smile to move forward. Life is very simple if we let go of negativity and world is a much happier place.No wonder people tell me travelling teaches you a lot of things. I traveled to just not see places bit to have amazing experiences and learnings. My cousin also added that, since you are here even if you do not score a 10 but score a 9 and travel places you would have become a much more enriched person than what you are. It’s absolutely true. I promise to travel much more because “Desha Sutthu, Kosha Odhu” is the only mantra of life.