A couple of years ago, I spent a week in Paris with my mum – just the two of us. I experience cities differently when I visit them with just my mum as opposed to with both my parents. She forces me to slow down, look at and enjoy things I would otherwise breeze past. In that, Paris was the perfect city for us. Left to myself, I would have completed the popular sights in a day and spent the rest of my time doing a city patisserie crawl. But the culture vulture that she is, I was made to take my time at the museums and we spent our days strolling around the city, gorging on delicious food and ending up with more shopping bags than we could carry. My favourite memory of the trip was when we were stuck in our room all day because of a thunderstorm, which led to an Indiana Jones marathon on the television.
—Kamakshi Ayyar, Features Writer, Web
My mother and I live together, which leads to an illusion of daily conversation. In reality, our lives are full, bursting at the seams and we end up discussing only meals, bank accounts and groceries. Despite having different interests, we travel together so we can talk, really talk, and laugh. And bicker. But we’re going to bicker anyway, may as well do it with some beautiful backdrops. While I travel almost always for wildlife, adventure, activity-based travel, she likes to travel for sights, to learn something new. We met halfway and picked Coorg. We are both fans of long walks that involve trees, the smell of the earth, waterfalls, streams and some really good conversation. I got my nature fix, and she got a little glimpse into culture. I knew some locals because of a story I’d done there, so we visited them for dinner, where she listened in delight to stories of local legends and then in (veiled) horror about the various meat they ate (she is vegetarian). She’s a coffee fanatic, so she enjoyed the various brews on offer, and laughed repeatedly that the tea tyrant in me had to suffer in silence. This year, we’re planning to visit the Rann of Kutch, so she can go birding.
—Sejal Mehta, Former Editor, Web
My mother first experienced the wonders of travel as a 10-year-old. My granddad had lost his wife and decided to take my mom on a trip to Kashmir as an attempt to fill up the void in their lives – it was a trip that ignited her passion for being on the road and exploring new places. She later married my dad, a Merchant Navy officer, whose passion to discover the world made him choose a life aboard the ship. With two travel enthusiasts as parents, my childhood was filled with memories of long family vacations hanging out and having fun. One of the memories that I cherish the most is the holiday I took with my mom to Christchurch, New Zealand for a week-long surfing trip. Along with beautiful sunsets, relaxing beach days, and perfect surf, we had leisurely dinners, followed by margaritas, dancing and never-ending hilarious conversations. I was so overwhelmed by how easily she paddled into the big waves while surfing, I couldn’t tell if she was scared. Her valour and love for her family makes me endeavour to be brave and a more confident explorer. She and my dad opened my eyes at an early age to the joys of being on the road, and inspired the wanderlust that is still so strong in me.
—Ritika Basu, Brand Manager
In the monsoon, Varkala is a world away from the party paradise it is during winter and summer. In July, I took my mother there for our first trip together (that hadn’t been planned by her). Varkala was lush and slightly chilly, with only a few other travellers around, most of whom spent their time like we did, enjoying walks on the beach or reading in little cafes. For three days, we strolled along the shore, with cliffs on one side and the sea on the other, enjoying our precious bonding time. We giggled like 5-year-olds when the cool water touched our toes, watched storm clouds roll in over the ocean, and enjoyed great seafood while squinting into the distance to spot the dolphins that often pranced around far out at sea.
—Akanksha Ohri, Intern, Web
I went to Goa with my mum, who had spent the last few months caring for her ailing father. Since the circumstances were difficult to plan around, I grabbed the opportunity to take her with me on a design conference I was attending in Panaji. We stayed at Casa Britona, a tiny boutique hotel that had unique designs for each room. The chef tossed up a home-style crab masala the very first evening and we sat on a wooden deck by the backwaters of the Mandovi river and watched local fishermen sail by. While I attended my conference during the day, my mother got a chance to explore the slow and peaceful village of Britona. It was a new experience for us to spend time alone and bond over great food, wine and conversations in the evenings. What initially felt like a difficult trip soon became a cherished memory.
—Diviya Mehra, Art Director
“Just take me to London one day, that’s all.”
“Oh! And you know that train ride? The one that goes through the snow covered Alps? That one.”
My mother’s travel bucket list has always had these two things (and the Eiffel Tower), as far as I can remember. Maybe it is a Bengali thing: bilet or “foreign land” is usually synonymous with London for a certain generation of us, maybe it’s the Indian-mountain-lover thing, or maybe it is just the wide-eyed traveller’s wishlist.
Being the more enthusiastic ones in our family of three, my mother and I have explored the joys of visiting new places, usually restaurants, in the city together but we haven’t got around to going on holiday together.
Finally, thanks to an upcoming graduation ceremony, I am going on a much-awaited vacation with my mother. For her, it will be the first stamp on her passport. For me, a chance to see Ma be a teenager, be a child, be an absolutely adorable, surprised, anxious, excited traveller who is ticking off the constants on her travel bucket list.
Yes, we’re going to London and Switzerland! I am looking forward to a beautiful first trip together. As for Ma, I have a feeling she’s just waiting to sprint to the experience. I can almost hear Ma talking to me on the flight back to India – “Now I don’t ever need to travel anywhere again. Okay, um, maybe just the Eiffel Tower.”
Maybe next year.
—Rumela Basu, Features Writer