|Picture Credit – Google
There are books and then there are books which take your breath away! I recently stumbled upon one such book called Bucket List of a Traveloholic by first time author Sarika Pandit. I was smitten by the cover picture, which I must say sums up the book, beautifully. Wanderlust has been a constant in my life since a year and a half now. So I completely understood when Sarika decided to get all the pages of her passport stamped before turning thirty. This book is a compilation of her journeys across the globe as a traveller, not a tourist. It takes you through experiences and not just through cities. Fifteen very well written travelogues later, a wanderer like me could not be held back any more, and I booked my next trip as soon as I finished the book.
Wanderlust is a state of mind. You either have it or you don’t. This book is a must read for everyone who is close to being a travel enthusiast. For people who understand journeys more than destinations, you can’t afford to miss this book. In Sarika’s own words from the Prologue -“It wasn’t just visiting a destination any more; it was about owning that experience.” More from Sarika, as she answers some questions which came to mind while wandering through her escapades.
|Picture Credit- Google
Me – Many a times, it happens that the most sought after tourist attractions don’t justify the hype. Did it happen to you anywhere except Brussels?
Sarika –Yes, that does tend to happen once in a while. On a recent trip to Paris, I visited the Palace of Versailles. It’s beautiful of course, but I hadn’t expected the large crowds and somehow, they took away a little of the atmosphere and sense of history of the place.
Me – Did you ever feel a connection or a similarity to India or Indian culture anywhere in the 20 countries you travelled to?
Sarika – Several times. Places like Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, in particular, do share several similarities with India in terms of food, culture and architecture. To cite a small example, I recently went to Turkey and, like India, its people love their tea or cay as they call it (even the word is pronounced as chai.) In Greece, I once sampled a dish called Tzatziki – only to realise that it was really just cucumber raita.
Me– When one thinks of Spain, Barcelona and Ibiza instantly come to mind. Both these destinations were not on your list. Any specific reasons for giving them a miss? Do you feel your visit to Spain is complete without marking these places or you think you’ll be planning another trip in round-11?
Sarika – I am not much of a party person and so Ibiza was never really a strong draw for me. I do want to visit Barcelona. I wasn’t able to on that trip, but it is definitely on my agenda!
Me – As an atheist, how did it feel to visit a land where everything is guided by religion or faith? Did it alter your beliefs as well? Did you come back a changed person from Jerusalem?
Sarika – Technically, I’m an agnostic, but I do tend to lean towards atheism than belief in God. I didn’t really become a believer after coming back from Jerusalem but I couldn’t help but be moved by the sheer strength of people’s faith. More than God, I think it was that faith that was a near-tangible thing in Jerusalem.
Me – No more travelling in India after the Khajuraho experience?
Sarika – I wouldn’t want to let the Khajuraho episode deter me from travelling in India. There is lots to see in India and lots I want to see. I have travelled post that in the South and North of India, with one key difference: I’ve been a lot more careful about my transport, accommodation etc. than I was in Khajuraho.
Me – It is my personal opinion that tour packages don’t do justice to travellers and are meant for tourists. Since you took a few tours with WOW, do you think they were good enough and you came back satisfied or they left you craving for more?
Sarika – I agree about tours being for tourists but what I found with WOW was that it did provide a certain flexibility and so I didn’t exactly feel like I was being shepherded like cattle from place to place. Plus I met some really lovely people on those trips. Also, for places like Jordan, Morocco, WOW worked because those are places which aren’t as easy to get around in as say, Europe.
Me – Did you feel as unsafe as in your own country, anywhere else in the world?
Sarika – Yep – several times. Paris is one city I never expected to feel unsafe in, but I did. We had taken the Metro and had gotten off at a station close to Montmartre and the station was extremely seedy with a very creepy crowd. What made it worse was that just the day before my brother in law had nearly gotten robbed at one of those stations. Just goes to prove that every country has its unsafe spots.
Me – Who would you name as your favourite travel companion out of all mentioned in the book?
Sarika– Haha. I wouldn’t want to risk getting clobbered by my friends by answering that. But honestly, I think every friend has brought her own unique element of fun and with that, adventure to my travels.
Me – How did you actually manage to take a week off every 3 months? I am sure many readers would benefit out of this super sensitive gyaan.
Sarika – I would usually plan my trips around public holidays; that way, instead of taking five days off, I would end up taking three or four.
Me – Do you plan to go back to the corporate world someday or plan to be a wanderer? Wanderlust can be explored as a career option of course, but do you think the passion would remain if it becomes a task and doesn’t remain an escape-route anymore?
Sarika– I am very much a part of the ‘corporate world.’ I resumed working after my brief sabbatical, but I still do manage to zip out whenever I can. For me, it’s important to have a steady source of income. How else would I finance all those trips? But there are people who do make a career out of it (rather successfully too) and enjoy every bit of it. More kudos to them.
For me, It was a wonderful experience getting to know Sarika, through the book and later, through our our conversations over Facebook. She is an inspiration and her agenda of Twenty by Thirty is a dream which she converted to reality. More power to her!
While, I am sincerely hoping there’s a sequel to Bucket List coming soon, you can order the book here.