THE ROAD WELL TAKEN by Siddhartha Sarma

'East of the Sun' by Siddhartha Sarma

(A new post by the 2011 winner of the Bal Sahitya Puruskar of the Sahitya Akademi! Congratulations, Siddhartha!)

There are different ways of travelling. Some prefer their travel plans to be made by professionals, but personally I feel it takes away from the overall experience of a place if the itinerary has been made by somebody else.
Another way is to make your plan yourself, which gives you a lot of space to make matters interesting. Using this method, you can either choose to take the road many others tread, or go find your own, little-known places. It is entirely up to you.
If you are travelling using the third method, a lot of care needs to be taken about what you carry. Backpacking is the best method, for the obvious reason that you might end up walking a lot, and having both hands free is a big plus. Also, your back can carry a lot more weight than both hands.
As a backpacker, you will soon realise the necessity of packing light. Unless you are the sport of person for whom clothes matter a lot regardless of where you are, you will eventually learn to manage on the barest minimum, depending of course on the duration of your trip. Also kit yourself appropriately for the weather and the climate. This last will not be difficult to do, but there are some places you might find yourself in with vast temperature differences over relatively short distances, and these can affect your body some.
Be ready for different kinds of food, sometimes not cooked in exactly hygienic ways. If your stomach is not accustomed to different kinds of food, it will limit the kind of places you can travel in.
An essential you have to remember if you travel alone is a first aid kit, with medicines for headaches, nausea (if you are into high-altitude travelling) to other ailments which might strike just because the water or food is different. It pays to watch your back, particularly when there is no one to look after you.
Finally, after you’re done packing and have reduced the weight to a manageable level, remember that the new or exotic place you’re travelling to is someone’s home, or homeland. Respect the people and try not to get on their wrong side, and you will find that, no matter where you go, you will meet the most hospitable people you ever expected to encounter.
Once you do that, you will find that your pack weight is much lighter too.
(You could check further details on how to set out travelling in my travelogue, East of the Sun).(Siddhartha Sarma is the writer of The Grasshopper’s Run (published by Scholastic and Bloomsbury) which went on to win the 2009 Vodafone-Crossword Award, and more recently, won the Bal Sahitya Puruskar of the Sahitya Akademi. Westland has recently brought out Sarma’s East of the Sun: A Nearly-Stoned Walk Down the Road in a Different Land under its Tranquebar imprint.)

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One thought on “THE ROAD WELL TAKEN by Siddhartha Sarma

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