By Ritu Goyal Harish
I remember the time when I used to travel with my family – mom, dad and both siblings, the three of us squeezed into the backseat of the Fiat my father owned as he drove us across south India – from Cochin to Madras, from Bangalore to Kodaikanal, almost every other weekend.
I remember going to the same places each year and visiting the same sights: the boat club in Ooty or the sunset point in Kodai. And it would still hold us enthralled.
But by the time I was a teenager, I had stopped enjoying going back to the same places. I would prefer to be left alone at our hotel in Ooty – a cottages resort – where I’d take my sketching book, walk up the hills and use crayons to capture the scene. I remember being warned against carrying a novel on such weekend family trips. I also remember being reprimanded for having my headphones on, all the time. My parents felt I was distracted and wasn’t ‘participating’.
Reading a book, sketching or listening to music seemed more like a ‘holiday’ to me than going boating or sightseeing. I didn’t realise then that my style and purpose of travelling was different from theirs.
There are many reasons why we travel. To some, ticking destinations off a bucket list or taking photos with famous monuments and landmarks is the reason they travel.
But there is a growing community of travellers who go to places far away and ‘do nothing’; where all they want to do is savour a cup of filter coffee curled up on the bed with a book, or they want to just look out of the window and watch the clouds float by.
Often, the desire to be alone or ‘do nothing’ on a holiday has more to do with our primal needs – to connect with nature and to connect with oneself.
Some people desire to get away from the noise and hectic pace of the cities, and escape to places where they can hear the birds chirping as dusk falls. For some, the need to heal or recover – from a broken relationship, or troubled personal or professional life – is only achieved when they go away to a place where no one wants their time, where their attention is not pulled in different directions, where it’s just them and the new surroundings.
Sometimes doing absolutely nothing on a holiday is also an opportunity to learn more about yourself. They say that the desire for solitude exists at a subconscious level; all we need to do is understand the needs of our soul. When we travel, we have the opportunity to turn this time into a meaningful and almost meditative time for ourselves, enriching our lives.
Lead image: Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash. First published in the November 2017 issue of eShe magazine. Read it for free here.
Ritu Goyal Harish runs Ease India Travel and specialises in holidays to Bhutan, parts of Himachal, Coorg and Kerala