Sometimes I think what would be the best way to express gratitude to my parents. They have been kind and obliging to accept a different child who more often than not neither asked or listened just went ahead. They nurtured the independent streak in me which helped me deal with every situation while I hopped from one country to another on work and travel. When I was growing up they took me to different parts of India to experience the different flavors of India through history, art, culture, nature and now that they are retired and reflecting on days gone by, and its my turn to take them on a trip that would make them happy. As luck would have it, I walked into a second hand book store one of these days and my gaze fell on Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 days” and voila the idea of a round trip around the world in 60 days with them took shape!! Well it could have been shorter or longer but keeping their age and all the travel in mind, I thought this would be just right.
Itinerary Planning: 5 continents, 60 days, two retired people and one nomadic soul, sounds impossible is it. But the lure of following the sun around great architecture, modernity, quiet rivers, gurgling sea waves, golden deserts, meeting the wild in their backyard, seeing the world from a hot air balloon, experiencing the perfectionist culture and the one time power house of the world, stretching lady luck in casinos and last but not the least tasting local cuisine is far stronger than thinking of aches, pains and the local grocer. This would give us a lot of time to chat under the stars about our lives gone by and I will get an opportunity to be the parent and be ever grateful for having them in my life.
- Thailand (Bangkok-Chiang Mai) : What better than to start the journey with the blessings of the Buddha in the various monasteries who gave the world the key to happiness
- Cambodia (Pnom Penh, Angkor Vat): The temples of Angkor have always been fascinating to all of us
- Singapore: Asia’s pride to have amalgamated the best of East and West and my parents have often contemplated a short break in Singapore.
- Australia (Sydney, Melbourne): I love their way of loving and living life and the best place to take long walks along the beach and a hot air balloon ride to fly in the sky.
- Japan (Tokyo, Mount Fuji and Ride in Shinkansen Express: I would love to show them around Tokyo and give them a glimpse of my life when I lived there a decade ago while I relive those days. They have lived my days in Japan through my stories and photographs but now they would experience it all in person ordering from pictures in restaurants to admiring the Japanese resilience
- USA(Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, New York,Washington): There is so much to see and do in USA that no itinerary can do justice. I chose the places to show them the best of USA that I have seen, lived and experienced which I am sure they would like. I cannot wait to take a walk with them in Times Square.
- UK (London, Aberdeen, Edinburgh): I need to give them a break from adventurie and allow them to rest in familiarity and London is my choice for it often reminds of Kolkata where they belong. I am adding bits and parts of Scotland for I want them to experience what it is to watch the reflections of the clouds in Loch Ness.
- Italy (Rome and Venice): They have lived Rome and Venice through my eyes, listening in awe when I related my experiences. I remember them staying up with me when I struggled with my History lessons on the Roman Empire conveniently mixing up one Caesar with the other. After nearly 3 decades, I would love to sit in a Piazza, enjoying the finest of Italian food and listening to that Roman History lesson again.
- Turkey-Istanbul, Cappadocia: Europe transiting into Asia and creating an open air museum and naming it Turkey. The food, the music, the mediterranean weather is a perfect combination to charge the weary traveler. It was a tough choice between Greece and Turkey but I leaned towards Turkey since I know they would love the archaeology from all the museum visits during my growing up years.
- Kenya- Nairobi, Jungle Safari: I remember my father reading to me a series of books on the Jungles of Africa and for a while I used to think all that Africa had was jungles. No trip around the world would be complete without me taking him on a safari that he described to me so vividly day after day.
- UAE- Dubai: After all the zest for days as we hop from one country to another, the best way to end the trip is to nibble into delightful delicacies and watch the sunset on the golden desert.
The aim is to see them happy so I keep pondering on the ingredients that leads to a happy traveler? Is it the sightseeing, the food, the good hotels and the comfortable transport that makes a happy traveler or is it appreciating the people of the land, their culture and food, going about places that make them proud and the tryst with nature that makes one happy!! Actually, happiness is a state of mind, of conscious awareness that allows us to embrace and accept everything during travel. Every happy traveler will recount at least one instance that led to a permanent shift of something deep within during their travel. So in my parents post retirement years I would love to take them around to meet some of the people who shared this earth with them, experience things that they only saw on television and come in touch with the inner child in them to experience true happiness.
Most part of our lives we are caught in a situation where he have time but not money or we have the money but not the time and in some situations when we have both, we do not have health. At a point in time, when we are blessed with all 3, it just seems logical to take off. I know I will be brushed off as crazy when I propose this to my parents but will need to use all my negotiation and management skills to convince. Time will tell whether I was successful or not. Even if not the trip, I will enjoy the planning, the arm chair travelling and weaving stories of the travel to be and that am sure will bring in happy moments.