I was always in two minds when it came to travelling with anybody. Whether I wanted a companion to have an Amazing Race of my own, or be Elizabeth Gilbert and find myself as I wander the unknown lands and seas, I didn't know. This confusion made me take a few amazing solo trips, where I not only discovered myself but also learnt for a fact that I definitely didn’t “need” someone to travel the world with me.
Soon I moved cities and a new life started, but the travel bug never left my soul. That’s when I met the love of my life. Towards the end of the story, you'll know why he's such an important character in my story!
We lived in two different cities, so the first time we met, I had traveled for about 4 hours to meet him for 2. On my way back home I knew it somewhere in my heart that these 4 hour trips were going to be a weekly if not a daily affair. The next time we met was even more fun, he had decided to take me out camping on a full moon night. Of course I'm a traveler, I’ve lived in hostels and random people’s houses but I had never camped before, and from all his talks I could see how he loved being outdoors.
We met halfway from both our cities and headed towards our camp. This was the first trip but definitely not the last with him. Here is what I learnt about him, myself and us as a couple by travelling with him:
Things I learnt#1: I learnt I don’t like his taste in music. I love the dance-y numbers you can sing to whenever on a trip of sorts and this boy had not one song similar to my taste on his playlist. In the coming years that changed, I started making him mixed tapes for the car.
Outdoors bring out the raw human being in you. I had to wake up the next morning sweaty and smelling of morning breath next to him, of course I was a little conscious but it didn’t seem to affect him at all. It didn’t matter to him that our bottles from last night were lying around and that some dog had eaten the food we left outside the tent. Later I figured that he's a cleanliness freak, he cleans up after us when we are outdoors or traveling without fail, which is also a big relief and turn on.
Things I learnt #2: I hate to pack the next morning. After a few such trips I found out that my enthusiasm to pack our tent and belongings the next morning was a perfect example of 'Diminishing Marginal Utility', anyone who’s studied economics knows how those Gulab Jamuns get to you after a while. But he never complained. Soon, we would have a score chart that would tell us who had packed the last time and would get a leeway, even though he still ends up packing after us most times.
You know when they say ‘travel with your partner to know him well’? It's not a myth, it's reality.
Well, my partner and I had traveled-lived together quite a bit before we went on our first trip. We were only 3 months old as a couple (too fast to soon? That’s how we work) and we decided to go to Goa with a couple of his friends. I was a little worried about how it would go, but you have to take the plunge someday right? So we went through with the plan.
The first few Goa days were eat-sleep-rave-repeat with the friends of course, but towards the end we didn’t want to leave Goa (like always!) so we decided to stay back and let our friends carry our things that we didn't need on our trip. Amidst all the excitement we forgot all about our necessities — chargers, my wallet, pairs of clothes. But nevertheless, we were in Goa, what could go wrong? Wait for it.
The first 2 days we lived the carefree 'waking up on the beach—drinking till we fall asleep' kind of a life but by the end of the second day we were out of resources. We had a tent, a rented bike with the tank full and each other. So we headed up north calling relatives and friends for help, but the Christmas weekend didn't help either, everyone was too busy to take our calls.
I remember that evening very particularly, where we had a measly ‘samosa pao’ for dinner and thought how the situation would be if I were 'high maintenance' and he was some guy with bad attitude, we joked and made fun about this when we stopped at a bus stop to make calls.
Things I learnt #3: If I can survive absolute zero penny brokenness with him, we can survive anything. My resourceful partner worked his little brain and got us a place to stay with the loveliest people I had ever met — they gave us money, food and a place to stay for as long as we wanted. It was our Christmas miracle; I think my partner is the miracle that I got lucky with that holy night. After that, Goa became our yearly vacay destination, we make sure we go there every year.
Having a relationship with a person who lives in a different city is a little difficult even if it's only 4 hours away, the travel time is what gets to you. So we made a deal to meet on weekends. We would huddle in cozy hotel rooms with our motorsports and football and no one would hear from us for those two days.
We have gone from the very shady yet amazing to expensive yet hostile hotels on this journey of ours.
Things I learnt #4: I cannot sleep if the bed is dirty. He wants a table with a drawer next to his bed and I want a clean soft bed, these are our basic requirements during our travels, we realized over time. One time (at band camp) we ended up in a hotel with a pretty messed up bed — unclean stained sheets. I was complaining all night so much so that my poor partner was even contemplating changing hotels that night.
When you travel a lot with someone, your habits become similar.
Well that holds true for a lot of things but when you share a car with the same person every time you take a trip, you and him are not too different by the end of it. I am so comfortable in the car with him that I know exactly what he wants and when. When in hotel rooms we have our 'todo lists' always ready. I call the reception and order our feast while the mister is still busy deciding which side of the bed is his. He will do the last room check while I'm already heading to the reception.
Things I learnt #5: I love soggy fries. We've never had a routine that we follow on a road trip but with time, once in the car we take a few stops to buy necessities — our cigarettes, his beer, my assortment of drinks at McDonalds and our soggy fries. No road trip now is complete without soggy fries. Most people hate them but we look forward to the soggiest of fries in the carton.
Once I found these amazingly soggy fries and I shared half of it with him, he said, "I’m glad I’m the one you want to share your soggy fries with."
Both of us love adventures and last minute plans but there are times when we've planned things that never happened. And that's okay.
Things I learnt #6: Always take that bus, even if you are angry. There have been times when we are on a trip or about to take one and we fight, the 'about to take' situations are the worst. One such time was when we had planned it all and were supposed to go to this little land of flowers and because of some petty issue that I don’t remember now, I was very reluctant about going on this trip.
My partner waited at the bus stand for me and calmly said, "Please come, let’s go", the bus ride was too crowded but we managed to get the last two seats. On that trip we met two amazing souls, one of which we met and missed and the other one that treated us like family and took us around his town. Cherry on top was the amazing day I had with my partner walking around on the vast grassland.
That was the amazing destination our angry bus ride led us to. We fit like puzzles, we are different personalities but if not for each other, our picture is incomplete.
The above mentioned are only 6 of the many things I have learnt and understood about me and him only through travelling together. I am not in any way legally bound to this man – not married or engaged but I have learnt so many things about myself that I wouldn’t have, sitting in my rented room alone here. Both of us believe that if we can do something that is in both our powers, we do it. And if not, we try harder.
I don’t think there is anything wrong to live in hotel rooms with someone I am not married to. It’s not all about sex, and when you are at a stage in your relationship where you can burn his ears with minute details of your period pain and he can give you a detailed run through all of his adventures in the bathroom this morning, it never really is just about the sex.
It’s not like I want to tell every couple out there that they MUST travel together, but try alright? You will find your missing piece, your person to survive difficult situations with, have the weirdest food combinations with and most of all, the person you'll never get tired of travelling with.