Exploring the world through blind dates over the years #SayYesToTheWorld #TheBlindList


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I grew up as a single child in a small town in Bengal called Berhampore. Every year my Professor father ensured that we had two vacations. The first one was always planned and it took us to Kolkata, then Calcutta. My mother had her parents staying in that city and I was amazed at how different a metro city was from my town. But what I would look forward to was the unplanned vacation to a new destination during summer holidays. My parents would keep me guessing until we reached the spot. As I grew up, I would try to open the bags to see if winter clothes were packed because that would mean a vacation in the hills. Every year that I went back home, I took back fond memories of places I have visited and left a part of me in those places.

Victoria Memorial Kolkata
Victoria Memorial Kolkata

Much later, when I asked them about this game of suspense, my Dad had disclosed that he wanted me to feel the thrill of exploring the world without any preset ideas. He believed in striking a balance between bucket list, which helped tick off items after fulfilling of wishes and #TheBlindList which taught me to keep my heart and mind open to experiencing new things. This is how began my journey of travel to explore new destinations. Darjeeling, which was one of the first ever vacation spot for me is a personal favorite even today.

Chennai
Marina Beach – Chennai

As I grew up, I moved to Kolkata for higher studies. This was my first date with the world. An eighteen-year-old was trusted by her parents and Permitted to stay on her own so that she could pursue her dreams. There were deterrents in the form of discriminatory behavior in college, heart breaks in the form of relationships gone wrong, harassment by random men that led to cringeworthy moments but I didn’t let the negativity ruin my journey.

Varkala
Varkala

Post-graduation course brought me next to Delhi. This was the first city that made me realize how far I actually stayed away from home now. But I chose to embrace it as my own leading to two years filled with fun and friendships.

Ooty
Ooty

Bangalore was my next destination when I started working for a market research company. I moved to a one-roomed rented flat, started exploring the city, its restaurants, some amazing bookshops and went on to create memories in the seven years that I spent here. As I moved on to do my MBA next to this city, I shifted to the institute’s hostel.

Agra
Agra

The next two years saw my date with the world soar high as I mustered the courage to pack my bags and head towards an adventure trip. I explored Chennai, Pondicherry, and Ooty through unplanned trips. I visited Ahmedabad and Hyderabad for conferences and seminars, representing my B-school. For most of these journeys, my tickets were rarely confirmed and the food and lodging hardly decided, yet I took up each of these adventures because I didn’t see any fun in leading a monotonous and planned life!

Pondicherry
Pondicherry

In 2009, I was campus recruited by ICICI Bank and sent to Khandala on training for one month. When other batch mates preferred to relax over the weekend, I started exploring Pune, Mumbai, Lonavala, Panchgani, and Mahabaleshwar.

Panchgani
Panchgani

At the end of the training, I was offered to lead a branch in Mysore. After staying in metro cities for a decade, it was a little disheartening to move back to a small town again. Besides Mysore was known as the retired man’s paradise. By then I had developed the nature of moving on without any preconceived notion. In the first two years of stay here, I had explored Agra, Coorg, Madikeri and Chickmagalur. Mysore turned out to be one of the most memorable phases of my life. I got married while being posted here and in less than five months from then, I lost my mother overnight to pancreatitis.

Mysore
Mysore

My husband and I had traveled to Munnar immediately after getting married. But, I had become numb after losing my mother. For a year, I had shut my doors to any conversation related to travel. While putting up a brave face, I had started crumbling from inside. In Dec 2012, I had switched jobs and wanted to visit my father before trying to restart my life. We had to go to Trivandrum for my husband had an official work in the city and then taking a flight from there. I had left Mysore after more than a year.

Munnar
Munnar

I remember crying the whole night that we spent in Trivandrum and then I decided to  face life heads on. We canceled our flight and took a road trip to Varkala through Kovalam. When you take life as it comes, you learn to live in the moment. There were no plans because I was not in a state to plan a trip. We just went with the flow, got an accommodation in Varkala and explored the place like it was the last vacation for us. The experience was so cathartic for me that after three days when we came to Trivandrum to book a flight, we chose to dismiss the idea and headed on to Kanyakumari instead. We stayed in Kanyakumari for a day, boarded a train without reservation to come to Bangalore and took a flight to Kolkata the next day. I have often heard that ‘Life is what happens to us when we are busy making other plans’. I experienced that during that impromptu trip to Varkala that day.

Till the time we spent in Mysore , we had explored Thekkady, Periyar, Alleppey, Athirapally, Cochin, Wayanad, Goa and Kodaikanal among many other places. And almost all were trips decided on an impulse wherein we just took the car and left. If writing helped me cope up with my mother’s loss, traveling gave me oxygen to live.

Shillong
Shillong

In 2016, we moved back to Kolkata with our infant son. Unplanned trips were difficult now as the baby had his requirements to be met. But that didn’t stop us from traveling. In september 2016, we traveled to Goa for his first birthday celebration. In Oct 2017, we decided on a trip to Shillong and Cherrapunji all of a sudden. Since then he has visited Mandarmoni, Tajpur, Shankarpur, and Digha. This year we have traveled to Delhi and Noida again on an impulse.

Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal

There have been many instances that could have discouraged me from having a blind date with the world. But I never let my wanderlust die. I became a storyteller and an author through the experiences that I gained while getting to know the world better. I’ve traveled as a solo traveler, as part of an all girl’s gang, along with my parents, with my life partner and now I also have my three-year-old for company. I’ve not let any hurdle or incident stop me from saying #YesToTheWorld and now I want to pass on the same spirit to my son.

Every city, that I have visited, has been part of #TheBlindList rather than the bucket list. But I was open to embrace the new and unknown territory. My late mother used to say that we visited places as outsiders, but as travelers we always imbibed a portion of the places’ culture, cuisine, and thoughts in our lives. I still live by her words.

Goa
Goa

Of all the places that I have visited, Varkala has the most special place in my life because that unplanned trip finally brought my life back on track.

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Watch a video that validates my love for the blind list over the years  –

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Who am I? Ex-Banker turned Blogger/Writer/Solopreneur. Any qualifications? A Post graduate degree in Chemistry followed by Post Graduate Diploma in Management. I am still trying to figure out how and when I can connect all these dots to what I do presently. Have I done any real work? If two years in Market Research and six years in Banking (three different Banks though) as Branch Head can be considered as real work. Where do I live? After a nomadic sixteen years in Delhi, Bangalore & Mysore, I am back to where it all started from - Kolkata. My favorite things - Food, travel, books and my two and half year old toddler son What is this blog about ? Sonia's musings is an attempt to channelize emotions through words and pictures hoping they touch a chord with my visitors.

33 thoughts on “Exploring the world through blind dates over the years #SayYesToTheWorld #TheBlindList”

  1. I too have “wanderlust”, and your story of how your parents encouraged it is inspiring…sorry for your loss and the impact it had on you – your story is beautifully told, bravo

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  2. Really nice post. You have traveled a lot. Unplanned trips are the best. It is exciting. It has a strange kind of romance. Romance of the unexpected.

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  3. A very well written post Sonia. You correctly brought out the joys of the surprises attached with unplanned trips with no fixed rules and restrictions in exploring known and unknown lands. The fact that these unplanned trips give valuable and memorable experiences in spite of life’s adversities, has been rightly brought out in your musings……a nice response to the prompt.

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  4. Life itself is a blind travel. My quote for life is “while you have plans for your life you don’t know what plans life has for you”

    I think life is the best teacher! Thanks for sharing your moments from life, Sonia!

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  5. You’ve travelled a fair bit and that’s amazing! I love unplanned travel. I’ve mainly travelled around Australia and a bit in the US and Canada. Must confess, haven’t travelled much in India or elsewhere but I’m hoping to change that.

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  6. You’ve travelled a fair bit and that’s amazing! I love unplanned travel. I’ve mainly travelled around Australia and a bit in the US and Canada. Must confess, haven’t travelled much in India or elsewhere but I’m hoping to change that.

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  7. You are a very brave soul to have the guts to take on unpanned travels; a control junkie like me has to have all her items planned to the T!!
    Loved your travelling tales and the concept of The BlindList is most unusual and intriguing for me- may this list grow with leaps and bounds! 🙂

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  8. The way you have summarised your trips and journey of your life till date is beautiful. Nobody can make a better BlindList than life itself. And I completely agree with you when you say that the experiences during these trips and journies are the ones which make you grow as a human being

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  9. That’s super, Sonia. I have yet to do a solo trip or a gal’s trip.
    Solo trip I wonder if I would ever do. But so want to do the gal’s trip.
    Loved your post.

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  10. What a pleasant post, Sonia! I enjoyed reading about your extensive travel experiences. Sorry to hear about your mom, that must have been devastating. Here’s wishing your blind list gets fulfilled!

    Like

  11. Reblogged this on soniasmusings and commented:

    #IndiBlogger #campaign #winner #SayYesToTheWorld #TheBlindList

    The blog has hardly seen any activity for more than a month now. With my focus on NaNoWriMo last month and trying to bring the novel to a convincing climax this month, I doubt how soon I can get back to the groove. And then a mail arrives this morning from IndiBlogger team saying that my post submitted for the #TheBlindList campaign, the pan India contest has made it to the winning list. This is the second time that a post of mine on travel writing has made me a winner this week. I guess it is time to get back to my Wanderlust stories soon. Thank you IndiBlogger and Lufthansa for this win.

    You can read the winning entry here.

    Like

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