Ever since I have been old and hygienic enough to travel with an intimate female friend—31 years old, just two years after marriage—I have always highly valued the rejuvenating effect that travel has on romance. There is something about displacement, unfamiliarity and exploration that drizzles the heady truffle oil of excitement upon the pan-fried free-range eggs of a mature relationship.
Walking in the rain in a strange city (San Francisco) full of strange people (Tamils) speaking strange languages (Java) draws both of you closer together more than everything else except parental disapproval.
“Sidin darling, why is that man following us?”
“I would not worry because the guidebook says that this is an ‘upmarket neighbourhood famous for its friendly cafes and gourmet restaurants’…”
“Yes, but he was also following us yesterday…”
“Oh my god it is my uncle Tommy who works in State Bank of Travancore, Istanbul branch…”
“You have an uncle in Istanb…”
“Hello uncle! How are you?! This woman?!!! Ha ha ha! Girlfriend, it seems! Please go away madam, we are respectable gentlemen… Uncle, it is so difficult these days to travel as a single man seeking chaste experiences! Fed up. HOW MANY TIMES I HAVE TO SAY! GIVE ME THE BOTTLE OF FANTA IN YOUR BAG AND GO BACK TO YOUR HOTEL STRANGE UNKNOWN WOMAN! KEYS ARE WITH THE RECEPTION!”
How can such thrilling experiences not enrich the trust and respect that is essential in any amorous collaboration?
Romantic travel is also a great chance to see sides of each other’s personalities that tend to remain hidden otherwise. Thus, bringing even greater authenticity to the interpersonal bond.
For instance, I am reminded of the time that a friend of mine, not at all me, went on a two-week long trip to the south of France with his recently wedded wife. He, not me, did not notice anything untoward with her for the first week or so. Then, half-way into the second week, he suddenly realised that there was something strange happening to his wife’s face. And then he saw it.
His wife, deprived of shaving equipment and taking a lackadaisical post-matrimony attitude to grooming, had forgotten to maintain the partition between her eyebrows. For the first time he, again not me, realised that his wife had a unibrow that meandered sensuously from temple to temple. Exactly like Miss Poonam, his arts and crafts teacher in high school. My friend considers this the most electrically erotic moment of his life.
Even for couples who have been together for many years, travel offers exciting opportunities for rediscovery—such as role play. Why not ask your husband, say, to go down to the swimming pool. And then, a few minutes later, follow him down…
“Oh, hello. You must be Mr. Aditya Pancholi…”
“Yes I… what?!”
“Nice to meet you, Aditya. I am a huge fan of your work,”
“Oh yes. Do you mind if I climb into the water with you…”
“If you insist, Rohini Hattangadi…”
“Wow. No no no no no no no no.”
“Wait, so I have to be Pancholi but you can’t be a young Rohini for me?”
“Dude. Pancholi is handsome.”
“Pancholi looks like he was designed on MS Paint. Have you seen Hattangadi in her youth?”
“No. Because I don’t watch silent films.”
“AHAHAHAHAHA. So funny,” he says, splashing water at her.
She splashes right back.
And this ensues until hotel staff ask the playful couple to go back to their hotel room. There, they collapse into bed and switch on the TV. Which duly plays a scene from Baghban featuring Hema Malini and Samir Soni. Pushed over their limits, the couple spend the rest of the night in, to use a popular euphemism, Kerala Congress.
This brief analysis merely scratches the surface when it comes to the limitless pleasures possible in romantic travel. The unknown road is lined with delights both strange and familiar. Why not partake of them yourself? Thus with Valentine’s Day just days away, why not reach for your favourite travel booking website and plan a trip for the two or three of you? Travel, after all, is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way or form represent the views of National Geographic Traveller India.