Of journeys and lessons

Maya Kamalakar sits across me, a warm smile on her face and enthusiasm illuminating her eyes. She recalls the magical moments she had during her travels. Maya is an avid traveller and a teacher by profession. She worked as a teacher in Vidyaranya School till last year and now is part of the administration of the school. Her other interests include movies and hiking. Excerpts from an interview:

When did you start travelling?
From my childhood, I loved to travel. But I hardly took any trips with my parents. One day, my aunt asked me to accompany her to Shirdi. I decided to go because I wanted to experience a train journey. That journey revealed to me the joy of travelling. In fact, that was a journey into a different world. It opened a new world to a nine year old girl – a world of unknown people and experiences.

How was it different for you when you started to take travelling more seriously? You said that this childhood journey showed you the wonders of travelling.
Yes… that first journey gave a chance to realize my passion for travel. I started to brush up the list of places I wanted to visit after reading about them. My dreams came true after I started to earn. Each journey inspired me to travel more. The misty morning and chirping birds made the Himalayan trek one of the best journeys. Each drop of water I drank from the valleys seems to be elixir, pure and sacred. We trekked miles a day but we were never tired because the destination made us move forward. I started trekking in my late 40s. The interesting thing about most of my journeys is that I travelled on a shoe-string budget.

So you are saying you learnt a lot from each of the hurdles you faced during the journeys? Was there any moment in your trips when you really wanted to give up along the way?
I had many hurdles during my trips. I don’t consider them hurdles now. Those were the lessons to know the other side of life which made me stronger. I thought of leaving the travel camps during my initial days as I was unable to get used to living so close to nature. I found it challenging to sleep in public places where vendors and street dwellers sleep. I started to accept those challenges realizing that they added value to our journey. I never quit any of my travels half way. I am extremely happy to interact with all kinds of people. Each person I met, the different kinds of food that I ate and each place I visited taught me the splendid aspects of life. What I believe is that one will start to think about the alternatives in life when you face problems. These hurdles and problems unite human beings regardless of class, caste and creed.

Any unforgettable experience during these journeys?
I went for a Himalayan trek in 1991. There was a snow storm and we had difficulties in trekking during our last camp. My friend and I got isolated from the team because each person walks at a different pace. The roads were fully covered with snow and we couldn’t see the path clearly. We were lost and could not trace our way back. We patiently waited at a place till our colleagues came to rescue us. I also went sand trekking in a few deserts and it is more challenging than mountain trekking. These trips showed me that each season is magical. Yeah… it’s really magical.

As told to Shabina Cheruvaatu

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