Once a upon a time , when I was sixteen, I went off on an overnight train journey all by myself. Mundane as it might sound this train journey was not boring. I was travelling from Kolkata to Bhubaneswar ,India, on a sleeper berth right beside the door. Sleeper trains in India are not for the faint-hearted, the doors remain open all night and every one from the saint-like to the unscrupulous travel on trains because, unlike Britain, trains are the cheapest means of travel in India. So, as I pretended to sleep the train rushed along at high speed stopping occasionally at deserted stations. Eagle-eyed I watched the door ,the vestibule connecting the next compartment and imagined every person who passed by to be a crook. The slightest brush of a passer-by made me believe that they were out to steal my luggage. Early in the morning, the next day, when I finally reached Bhubaneswar I was convinced that this was the greatest adventure of my life.

Indian Railways sleeper coach - Wikimedia Creative Commons License - Author -Dforest
Indian Railways sleeper coach – Wikimedia Creative Commons License – Author -Dforest

A few years later I moved from Kolkata to Hyderabad, about 1500 kms, 26 hours by train, to university. My first night ever at a hostel was spent alone in the wing annexed to the boys hostel. The girls hostel ran out of rooms that year! It was a dark and stormy night and the annexed wing stretched out into the overgrown wilderness. All the excitement about starting my Masters degree, and living alone away from home flew out of the window, at the first bat’s screech, the first jackal’s howl and the owl that hooted outside. The next great adventure of my life had started. All those train journeys made me believe I was ready to tackle anything in life!

Nelson's ship in a bottle, Trafalgar Square, London 2011
Nelson’s ship in a bottle, Trafalgar Square, London 2011

By the time I started living abroad, in London, I was ready to hop off onto an international flight alone without thinking about what my life was going to be like. All I had was oodles of excitement. My first week in London was in a tiny flat in Guilford Street opposite Russel Square. My marriage was less than a month old and I was in the city where, I believed, literature and history was created. I was in a travellers dream, my dreams. I was so enamoured by everything  I was seeing and experiencing around me in this new country , a city so familiar yet so different.

First evening in London, the first thing  I did was shop for a coat at Zara.
First evening in London, the first thing I did was shop for a coat at Zara and wondered why the newspaper was free!

The reason why I’ve moved around so much and will continue to do so is because my husband and I wanted to travel. Both of us had different reasons. He, because, until he left Kolkata for a job, he had lived in the same city for 23 years. Me, because I’ve always moved. Whether, it was within the same neighbourhood living in different houses or in different towns, cities, or states in India. I am still moving from house to house in various parts of London. By now I’ve travelled to 15 countries and countless cities and have had numerous adventures on the way.

Every adventure has felt like my greatest adventure. Did I tell you about the one in Bangkok? When my taxi driver was reading the hotel’s address upside down? We didn’t speak the same language and I realized he didn’t read any of the languages  I could write. I really thought I should take up acting after successfully pantomiming with the driver. Finally, we just called the hotel, who spoke both our languages and the day was saved.

I’ve also learnt the strangest facts about each city. The gondoliers in Venice do not sing unless they are paid 150 Euros. Beer in Prague is cheaper than the public toilets. Prague also has strange art on its streets. No wonder Kafka lived there! Most of the narcotics available  in coffee shops in Amsterdam have Indian names. The room with the Monalisa, in Louvre, Paris also has a large painting, covering all of the opposite wall. But, did anyone notice what it was? or, who it was by? The list is endless and continues to grow every day.

So,travel gives me a constant supply of great adventures and lots of excitement and life is my greatest adventure.

C’est La vie

This post is an entry to the The Blogger’s Lounge Your Biggest Adventure competition in collaboration with Gap Year.

Written by Amrita Dasgupta - Visit my blog for more food and travel stories
I love to travel, discover new things, experience new cultures and then I get back home and experiment with the new food and recipes I discovered on my travels. My blog is about all those life experiences. If you’ve enjoyed this post, keep in touch with Drifting Traveller on Twitter and Facebook or by adding my blog to your RSS feed. Follow my blog with Bloglovin or Networked Blogs! If you really like reading the Drifting Traveller why not share it with people you know who'd like to read it too.