When she was a little girl, she was thrilled to be gifted a baby doll from the UK, with a pink knitted frock and blond hair, mostly because of the glimpse it gave her into what children in other countries played with.
She wanted a golliwog when she read about it in books that she used to borrow from the library.
She wanted to see the houses with smoke coming out of chimneys, the pink pigs, the bath tubs, the rolling green fields, and the snowmen with pipes in their mouths, from the Enid Blyton books that she devoured. She had never known that such things existed in the world outside her house.
She wanted to see what marshmallows and s’mores and hot chocolate tasted like.
Her favourite pastime while travelling by train was to keep looking out of the window. Sunflower and marigold fields, little huts, winding lanes, coconut groves, rivers sparkling in the sun – there was so much to explore out there, she felt.
She used to make up lives for the people she saw while travelling.
She always pored over the labels of the clothes that she received as gifts from the UK and the USA. She marvelled at how different the styles of the clothes were from those in India.
She stared for hours at the stamps whenever she received a letter from outside India. She was in a world of her own during those times.
She wanted an English wedding gown, when she turned a teen.
She wanted to have tea made in a whistling kettle and served in a fine china tea pot, cup and saucer.
She was fascinated by the accents of the Americans and the English.
She was thrilled when her relatives told her tales of snowfall and hurricanes and the sun setting at 8 PM.
She wanted a snow globe to keep on her desk.
She wanted a dream catcher to hang in her bedroom.
She wanted to go for a walk in the woods, wearing a thigh-length leather jacket and high boots, looking for mushrooms.
She wondered how it would be to have pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast, for a change.
She wanted to see kangaroos, alpacas, emus, giraffes and zebras in their natural habitat.
She wanted to lie in a hammock between two palm trees on a beach, gazing at an azure sky. She wanted to set foot on a white sand beach.
She was more interested in the locales than the story, whenever she watched a Bollywood flick.
She made list after list of the places she wanted to travel to. She daydreamed of these places.
When she had a decent-enough earning, travel was the first thing she started budgeting for.
Whenever her spirits were down, she read up about enchanting-sounding places on the internet.
Books about places were among her favourite types of books.
Looking up cruises and flights and trains to a variety of destinations kept her up late many nights.
Many lunch breaks were spent gazing at pictures of Venice and Australia and Japan.
She often dreamt of quitting her full-time job so that she could travel full time.
Nothing inspired envy in her, except for the vacations to the most exotic of places that her Facebook friends seemed to take so effortlessly.
She eagerly awaited the yearly list of holidays from her office to land in her inbox, so that she could begin planning her holidays for the year.
She was impressed when her fiance told her he wanted to see the world with her.
She couldn’t contain her excitement when she came to know that her honeymoon would be on foreign soil.
She and her husband spent their honeymoon watching dolphin and elephant shows, exploring beaches, fascinated by dances and boxing events.
She started a blog, and began to write about what she saw in the world around her. Many told her they loved her travelogues, because of the passion in them.
Today, all her stress, all her tiredness, melts away at the thought of seeing a place she has never seen before.
She asks for travel as gifts for her birthdays and wedding anniversaries.
She seeks to find a new India, different from the one that she is used to. She has, indeed, found bits and pieces of it already.
One thought that makes her sad is that there is so much of the world to see, but so little time. Budget constraints, too. What will happen to her dream of exploring every nook and cranny of the world?
She longs to buy a flight ticket to a place like Zagreb or Morocco, on a whim.
She wants to get down at those little towns that she sees on her train journeys and car trips, to live for a few weeks there and get to know the locals.
Little souvenirs from distant places, like the sand of many colours from Kanyakumari or a purse from Bali or a bead necklace from Tibet, thrill her more than anything else.
She often thinks she was a gypsy in her previous life.
She has the soul of a nomad, she believes.
She has her fingers crossed for her children to be little troopers, so that they could all go on road trips together. She wants them to be known as the travel-crazy family.
From the little girl to the adolescent to the married woman, one thing has not changed. Wanderlust was a fixture in her life then, as it is now.
And, in case you haven’t guessed yet, the little girl is me.