NOW that I am 30, let me share a small secret with you: I keep no secrets at all. We all remember Chinese whispers right? I hated that game as a child. You tell friend 1 something, then friend 1 goes and tells friend 2 something else, and then people extend the favour by sharing it with friends 3, 4 and 5. By the time, friend 10 knows all about it, the story isn’t meant to be same. So, if I said ‘I loveeee Leonardo DiCaprio (whom I do btw)’, when friend 10 learns of it, it turns out to be more like, ‘Jane’s star sign is Leo and she hates capris because it makes her look fat. She also loves Titanic and believes that Rose should have drowned.’
Thank you friend: The one who forgot the plot, changed the story or was simply, plain deaf and could not articulate whispers into simple English sentences. You got the Titanic bit right though! Let me put it mildly: Jack deserved to live. Rose: I am not so sure.
To save myself from the grief that such games cause me, I have never been hush, hush about events and people in my life. I probably have like just ten close friends, half of whom are my BFFs, and mostly, they all know everything about me. So, everyone knows I’d like to write another book someday (now you know too). All my girls know whom I am absolutely crushing on lately (Clue: Could be DiCaprio). The world also knows I just turned 30 (I made it a point to do a pre-birthday announcement on my blog). And of course, those who really mattered knew I was heading on my first backpacking trip to Hampi and Gokarna.
My mum, who isn’t one to let me go, attributed my ‘backpacking condition’ to quarter-life crisis. But, surprisingly, she didn’t stop me this time and that was such a big relief. I am no crazy traveller. I like breaks, mostly short, because I get homesick very soon. And, I enjoy soul-stirring conversations, so, I choose my travel company very, very wisely.
Hampi was within shouting distance (a night-long bus from Mumbai to Hospet in Karnataka) and suited my travel plans. I had heard about the temple ruins of Vijaya Nagara – once among the richest in the world and the jewel in the crown of Krishnadevaraya’s Vijaynagara empire – through a friend and it had been on my mind for a while now.
Part of growing old is reminding oneself that everything in life will someday be okay. And, of course, we all want things to be fine, right? A month ago, when I was at my ridiculous best, I made a call to one of BFFs, and asked, ‘Would you like to elope for a few days?’ I like people who don’t say ‘no’ when that’s exactly what you want to hear. Because, I think I might have been a mild wreck when I asked her that, and I probably just made that proposition to assuage what or how I was feeling. Had she said, ‘NO’, I already had Plan B up my sleeve, which was mostly on the lines of ‘let me try and get busier at work’ or ‘write more feature stories that only I read’. But, all thanks to her, she didn’t. Other best friends, hers and mine, also joined later. This trip happened. And so, onward we went, first breathing the history of Hampi, doing yoga on the mountains (à la Taal), gorging on Nutella pancakes, sipping ginger honey lemon tea, before cooling our heels off on the beaches of Gokarna – a seven-hour bus ride away from Hampi. I found three other travel sisters. I got time to go clickety clack with my DSLR and because, I barely managed to take my own pictures, I am now sifting through photos of my back taken from other people’s lenses.
I also met Anjaa, a rickshaw driver, who was the first person we came across as soon as we got down from the bus at Hospet. I knew instantly that he would be our best friend through this short journey. He has a charming smile. He is extremely shy of women. He can also use a DSLR. And, he knows Hampi like he knows his Gods. There’s something reassuring about people who understand God. They treat everyone well – not out of fear, but for the love of what this supreme force created.
Hope you enjoy the filter-free pictures.