What does adventure mean?
The other day my six year old daughter Kavya asked me “Mama what does adventure mean?” I looked at her for few moments and wondered how to explain this complicated yet so simple term to her. To make it easy I decided to tell her a story that actually started with her.
ADVENTURE IS TAKING RISK
When I was carrying my daughter in the fifth month of my pregnancy I developed itchy feet. The restless soul in me wanted some change in life as I was bored with the daily humdrum. At the last minute we planned a trip to Konkan and booked a room over phone. For the uninitiated it was an unsafe situation as I was putting my life and my unborn child’s life at risk. Considering my interests my husband decided to take the risk. We hit the road and reached a small hamlet called Harnai. To my surprise the room that we had booked was in a fishermen’s colony and the smell of fish hung heavy in the air. But that didn’t deter me from enjoying my stay and relishing the sea food cooked by a Koli (local fisherwoman).
“And the day came when the wish to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
I looked at my daughter who was intently listening to my story. I had definitely caught her attention. I then questioned her do you dream?
ADVENTURE IS TO DREAM
I had always wanted to get into journalism but my father thought otherwise. He was of the opinion this profession wouldn’t give me enough dough and I would have to travel to unknown and dangerous places with not enough security. I graduated from an engineering college and got into the big wide world of software industry. After working for thirteen years seated in a cubicle for the whole day I decided to leave the full time job and follow my dream to become a travel writer. When I left the fat paying career I didn’t know if I would be able to foray into the world of print but slowly I did make a mark and travelled to some little known places in India and abroad.
“Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist but you have ceased to live.”
Kavya was surprised to know that I had never wanted to be a software engineer. She then asked me, “Mama now are you happy being a writer? It might be all rosy now for you.” I smiled at her and replied everything is rosy if you have the interest to do it, but it doesn’t stop there you want to push yourself to excel and attain your goal.”
ADVENTURE IS PUSHING THE LIMITS
Last year I travelled to Germany solo after winning a blogging contest. I reached Heidelberg and made it my base for the next three days. I explored the beautiful Aldstadt (old town) in the pouring rain, stayed in a hostel and made friends. On the last day as I left the town I experienced body pain and fatigue. By the time I checked into the hotel in the bewitching Black Forest region at Triberg I was down with fever and bad cold. I hated myself for falling sick in a foreign country where support system was limited. I had planned to go hiking into the woods, relish the local food, check out the famous cuckoo clocks and enjoy the scenic beauty of the region but all this seemed to go down the drain considering my health conditions.
I stayed in the hotel whole day popping pills and taking rest. The fever didn’t subside neither did my thirst to explore the region. The next day I set out hiking into the forest with my camera gear and a rising body temperature. But that didn’t deter my spirits as I was rather worried about the light conditions. I made my way to Germany’s highest water fall, planted my tripod and started taking pictures. As I stood there for the next thirty minutes clicking photographs I noticed I was sweating profusely in the cold mountains of Black Forest. The fever broke finally. That evening I raised a toast to my health in a Gasthof (A German styled family owned hotel) and treated myself with a German schnitzel.
“Follow your bliss and doors will open for you that you never knew existed. Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”
“Ooh mama you fell sick in Germany? It must have been difficult there with no one to take care of you?” queried Kavya. “It sure does but you know its also about getting to know something new,” was my reply.
ADVENTURE IS GOING IN SEARCH OF THE UNTOUCHED
Talk of Kochi and everybody is sure to think about its Jewish influences, Chinese fishing net, Portuguese, Dutch and the British rule. But not many know about a quaint Bird Sanctuary 50km from Kochi named after the Birdman of India Dr. Salim Ali. I was fortunate to stay in this sanctuary and meet the renowned ornithologist Dr. R.Sugadan who was a student of the birdman. When he took charge of the sanctuary the Ceylon Frogmouth was an endangered species in the avian world with just two pairs sighted in 1983. These birds breed once a year and lay only one egg. Their nests are flimsy and the survival rate is low. But by habitat management and planting bamboo and eeta the bird lover was able to revive their population. After two decades their numbers have increased to fifty pairs. I went in search of this elusive bird that had managed to evade my eyes during my stay. Subsequently, three days of walking through the leech infested forest I managed to catch sight of this nocturnal bird sitting dead pan on a low lying branch.
“…adventures don’t come calling like unexpected cousins calling from out of town. You have to go looking for them.”
“Ceylon Frogmouth, that is a strange name, never heard of it” exclaimed Kavya. I smiled and asked her ” There are even stranger things, do you know of Austrians cooking sambar?”
ADVENTURE IS DOING THE UNHEARD
When I visited Innsbruck in Austria my guide Andrea Werwitz showed me the beautiful city of Innsbruck and took me to the Austrian Alps. As we warmed up over a cup of coffee and sacher torte (Austrian chocolate cake) she opened up and narrated her Sri Lanka travel tales. She then went on to tell me how she enrolled for cooking class in Sri Lanka where she learnt to prepare sambar. Back home she had tried to recreate this curry but it didn’t turn out well. She asked me if I could teach her to prepare the lentil curry as her family loved it.
I was in for a complete surprise as I had never expected sambar an Indian dish would be liked by an Austrian family and that I would actually cook it for them in Austria. But as they say expect the unexpected it was a pleasant surprise and one that I thoroughly enjoyed as I got to meet and spend time with the friendly and hospitable Werwitz family. The whole experience right from shopping for the Indian spices, tamarind, curry leaves, lentil etc. to cooking in Andrea’s kitchen was a memorable event.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
As I narrated these incidents to my daughter I realised Adventure was a sum total of everything that I had recounted. It was actually following your passion and living life to the fullest. Adventure is to live your dream. It is to live your dream day in and day out, every moment of your life. It is emancipation.
“So my dear child never stop dreaming and most of all do not forget to live your dream,” I told my inquisitive daughter.
The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams ….Oprah Winfrey