Girls on the move!

 

Girls on the move!

Well, Rakhi, StoryBerrys creator, gave me the idea! ' Soma you go on Girl Trips…do write about that! How does it feel? ' She showed me a Times of India clipping for Women's Day with the caption 'Girls on the move'

To begin with I'm a travel freak and honestly, most bongs are! With a humble budget and humbler needs bongs travel around the country with an enthu which is hard to match! 'Girl trips' though so in now, born in a family of fiery, independent women, wasn't something new to me, something I had embarked on hardly when I was twelve!

 

Tryst with Indian Railways… journey in Awadh Assam express!

My first Girls' trip was with my aunt, her friend and me. Both independent, single women and the twelve-year-old naive me set out for a rather prolonged, complicated train journey from Guwahati to Jhansi. My uncle was posted at Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh and we were supposed to join him there. What a ride it had been in a fateful train called ' Awadh Assam' , where our seat was booked in a ladies' coup which actually had a functional door in the sleeper class! Not to speak of the broken glass of the toilet window which had men leering from the platform. The train had a special compartment that was left over by the parent Awadh Assam at Gorakhpur junction, where the compartment was shunted throughout the night by some stray engine as we whined with pricking mosquito stings! In the wee morning, the stray compartment was picked up by some other Bombay-bound train (a name I can't recall) and finally, I think around day three we reached Jhansi at late night! Well, my uncle was there in the station with a Fauji vehicle! Imagine all this without any phone call only maybe some letters before the journey! 

 

 

Himachal Highs:

 

My second girls' trip was again with my Bubu (Bua) and another of her feisty friends. One hell of a travel freak she was! Manu Pishi was well-read, well versed and planned a Himachal Pradesh trip with exquisite detailing…I mean without any internet, just reading Bengali travel magazines, travelogues! She gave an insight into Himachal Pradesh as they say not as a tourist but as a traveller! With places such as Bharmor, Chamba on our itinerary, it was a journey into heaven!

 

Meghalaya Magic:

Next, I remember when I worked as a teacher at Barapani, my friend came over and we had a blast! Morning I used to make sandwiches with cheese before going to school, pack them for breakfast and leave some for her. Afternoon when I was back from school, I had a warm lunch waiting for me with innovative dishes! One innovative cook she is…and we relished each other's culinary skills merrily!

For believers, she and I promised each other a DDLJ trip to the Swiss Alps, may be sometime in the next year! Well as they say…the world thrives on hope…

 

Twining in tea garden….

 

Bubu was my window to freedom! My first solo trip was a journey to Jorhat by bus to her place. Freedom tasted exotically delicious! Later I went with my friend to Jorhat, though memories aren't overtly sweet, it was refreshing and counted as one of my beginner independent trips.

 

Barapani Bliss!

My one-year stay at Barapani again with my, daughter, and household help with my current job gave me an entire year to explore a world… unique and unscathed. My Malayali colleague and I sneaked into the heavenly city of Shillong for some delectable food, shopping and a taste of the pine-filled hills! So we had these all-girls trip once in a while with a toddler at toes!

 

 

Singapore Swag!

 

Ok those were filter-less, mobile-less, social-media-less days where I wasn't that financially stable. Later when I joined my present job and was doing fairly well, I and my colleague turned friend embarked on our first foreign trip. I was almost frustrated hearing anecdotes of my husband's work travel all over the world. So some guilt trips notwithstanding, we headed for Singapore in a jumbo brimming with excitement and enthusiasm unplugged! That trip made us like we were out in the world, I remember my friend tracing the movement of the Singapore Airlines flight on the display screen minutely as I had dozed off on the flight after a hectic night duty. The Singapore journey gave us an insight into waiting patiently in queues at metro stations, public restrooms, and user-friendly public transport, not to claim a reserved seat for the senior citizens in metros even if it remains vacant! Also, Singapore was the place where we shopped in H&M first before it came to India. A trip of many ' firsts' for us!

 

 

Mount Abu Moments!

Well, I didn't find the place picturesque at all and overly religious for my taste but we four girls had a blast! Though initially it was a ladies' trip from the office, we broke free and made it our own!

 

 

In the land of Greek Gods!

After a hiatus, my friend getting hitched, transferred to another corner of the country, her infant daughter…we came together again for a short trip to Greece! Boy, it was fun! She had planned each detail and we were on our own in the country from day one. From staying at BnBs, to raving at the guards before the Greek Parliament, to whom we foolishly asked what was this building and why people were crowding here! In reply, we got a stern look and a curt answer that it was the Parliament! I mean from the land of Lutyens Delhi, this seemed a fledgling in kindergarten! And patting my friend when she tried to hide the telltale bra strap, ' Girl this is Greece! Let the bra strap show! Chill!' 

Mykonos, Santorini took us through the Bollywood songs we grew up with. While my mad penchant to click pics with Bougainville in the white blue doors as I saw in blogs was hilarious 😆. and yes the shock we had visiting a nude beach at Mykonos! How we called our spouses from there, how they panicked, ' Get away from here!' Both the spouses shrieked in different phones! How I told my friend ' I'm not going to leave ' and settled comfortably in the couch on the sand to watch the spectacle!

 

 

 

Goa Gang!

This trip was just before covid and there was days and months of terror and confinement after that. Five colleagues/ friends painted the town in Goa with those short dresses, shorts, casino visits for the first time! Five of us were different, eccentric yet we rocked …there was faction yet we sprung back and hit it high!

 

 

The Land of Leh…

 

 

Covid was weaning off after the invasive second wave, and that was when I and my partner decided for Leh. This was to be our third one after Singapore and Greece, our first desi one. And what a terrain it was, domineering formidable mountains, and rivers from the beginning of civilization, Leh had us totally laid! High altitudes, pristine lakes, tough terrains, arid deserts..Leh had it all.

Leh was the true Shangri La to the core beckoning us to an ancient wonderland!

 

 

Jai Mata Di!

My latest trip was with a friend who isn't that keen traveller but a superfit trekker who wanted to do a VaishnoDevi visit. Yes, I have nothing to do with temple visits yet since nothing was cooking up I agreed readily and added Patnitop to the itinerary to spice up the trip. We explored a bit of Jammu, relished some local cuisines, visited Vaishno Devi ( I also made a reel Chalo bulawa aaya hain!) and Patnitop welcomed us with loads of snow. The stay at JKTDC cottage was gruesome, where we were stuck in an isolated cottage amidst dense deodars in a dilapidated room with an eerie chowkidar present around one hundred metres away at least that's what he said! It was an experienced of a lifetime with dirty bed linen , fungal curtains, spooky forest, we danced the evening away. My friend slept off, I had the deodars prying through the ventilator all night! Next day we checked out and shifted to an army guest house my friend's brother had arranged! But that didn't dampen our spirit, a bright and sunny day in the snow and the welcoming deodars in the morning!

 

 

As I always say at the end of such trips I return a few years younger, more carefree and silly than I already was, a healthier heart bursting with joy and loads of anecdotes for my daughter and for all other women who'd have loved to take such trips! And yes you dress, makeup without much judgment, you let your hair down and chill! Yes, you do have some girl fights as well at times with a dash of ego or factions. But who cares!

Girls are on the move! The world is at our feet….just need to take the first step.

 

Soma Bhattacharjee

 

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