My earliest memories of travel outside of the city involve bus and train rides. Bus rides would be in the ubiquitous “Red Bus” or “Semi-Luxury” or “Super Deluxe” out of the city. In those worry-free days, the travel plans were out of our hands and minds, as was packing and logistics of the journey and destination. We were expected to show up, stay in sight and out of trouble. I never had a problem with meeting those expectations (at least as far as I can recall, my mother may have a different story to tell). The Red Bus journeys were the most adventurous – finding a seat and retaining it was always atop priority. As a kid, I was happy to help. Squeeze in among the rush to get inside, put a handkerchief on a seat and spread the hands out wide as far as I could, waiting for the family to join in. I can only imagine the thoughts in the parents’ heads now. I used to enjoy those journeys as the bus would make a stop at every town along the way to the destination. It would take forever in today’s times. Maybe our expectations from journey were far fewer back then. Can you imagine getting off the highway at every town, for a 5-10 min. stop? My 10 year old nephew has a simple question 30 mins into every journey – have we reached? Bus journeys in the 1980s and 90s could easily last for 12+ hours and no one seemed to be in a particular hurry to get anywhere. And there were no A/C buses with push-back seats that are deemed to be so uncomfortable nowadays. How about traveling for 14-15 hours in a bus with straight seats with hardly any cushioning to talk of? Did we really go through that? Did we really have a time when there was no TV and no Internet?
Back to travel though. The lure of the travel remains unabated. Every few weeks, there is a call of the road/ air/ tracks that makes me want to head out. A few years ago, there would be a lot of preparation for every journey. Planning and packing would be completed in advance. As times have changed and more experience is gained, there is a lot less planning involved. More and more, I find that traveling to new cities or places is so much easier than it used to be. All the fear that one had about going to an unknown place has dissipated thanks to the Internet and the smart phone. Any and every information about a city or town is available in a few seconds. Travel is a lot easier nowadays, no questions. For example, take the travel reservations. During college days, making a train reservation meant visiting the Railway Reservation office, filling up a form, standing in line in one of the many counters and waiting for our turn to arrive. For us back then, even having a dedicated, air-conditioned Railways Reservation Office was a novelty and a luxury. Now, if the irctc website is down, forget booking a ticket. Travel by air was a rarity in itself, so making a flight reservation was only through a travel agent. Times have changed and how.
What are your memories of travel? How do they contrast to your travel now? Do share your thoughts!