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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Monday, June 05, 2006


There was a time, long long ago, when holidays meant packing your bags an hour before the bus, train or flight was to take off. Head to the destination with breathless excitement. Reach point A, dump your bags, then head out to explore whatever lay beyond.

Since my Dad was in the Army, the ritual of discovering unknown parts of the country, was almost second nature to the two of us - my sister and me. I remember the heady days of jumping into the army jeep or the jonga to drive into the eastern recesses of India. Gingerly stepping on all those monkey jhulas that passed off as bridges to find places of stunning beauty beyond Rajouri, Poonch and Bimbar Galli. Taking the train for a long distance adventure all the way from Gaya to Dehra Dun with the entire 7 Field in tow. Or surviving another long hot distance transfer from Cuttack in Orissa to the burning hot spot - Ahmedabad in Gujarat.

The journey of a thousand miles invariably began on a train. Then it morphed into more adventures in a car, jeep, sometimes even the Shaktiman or through the treks that Dad took us on in Dalhousie. As he always said, "if you must travel, travel light because there are so many ways of seeing the world."

But then that is Fauji speak. Of course, during our early years, he kept a tight reign on us, never letting us head out if we had more than a pithhu on our backs. "Men have fought wars on a lot less", he constantly reminded us.

Along the way, those were lessons I had happily forgotten. Of course, when the kids came along, the bachchas became a good excuse.

"You know I need the pampers, the medicine, the doodh ka dabba, the clothes - I don't want to be washing on our holiday."

Then the kids themselves started adding on their own little bags to the existing ones.

"Mamma can I just take one colouring book and the colours and that small monkey and one doll and what about my bracelet," goes Aneesha till her Barbie bursts at its seams.

Then there is Dhruv happily sneaking his car, helicopter, motorcycle into his Bob the Builder bag which is only supposed to hold his water bottle.

So it is that Bala almost every time collapses under the collective weight of all our bags.

It's going to be different this time round - I hope, I believe.

We head to Thailand, to discover parts of it, just the way I did when I was a kid. Doing the great rail journey across the River Kwai and more.

Hopping from place to place with mega bags in tow will be no fun, so before we even get packing, I'm gonna sit back and recall all of Dad's famous words.

Travelling light will be a must as we'll take in the sights of Bangkok via Shanghai Inn and Chang Mai via Tamarind Village.

Whether these places will live up to their pictures, the next week alone shall tell.

Though one thing is for sure, our adventure on wheels will definitely give me new insights into the art of packing. Lessons I should never really have forgotten.