Posted by: miilee | December 24, 2009

A Travel Bug’s Dream

I was bitten. Not now, not a year ago; I was bitten when I was just a kid. The travel bug got to me way before any of the others, even my first bout of flu came later. And unlike all the other bugs, there is no vaccination to shield yourself, neither is there any bunch of antibiotics to cure you of it. Once it gets to you, you’re stuck with it for life.

And I love it. I agree it often clashes with my meager Indian middle class pocket, but if there comes a travel opportunity knocking at my door, I am the least likely to keep the shutters down. If my pocket manages a just-able-to-cope-with-the-strain sort of nod, I don’t look twice and jump aboard. Fate has been kind and has provided several opportunities; holiday times with family, school and college trips, Industrial Visits, Nature Club treks. But the dream come true for the travel bug in me, was the Tata Jagriti Yatra.

Tell me, how many times in your life are you told that there is to be a train that will make a circuit of the entire country and you could be on it? Not everyday, and when Disha told me of the Jagriti Yatra, that little bug in me dances with joy, dragged me by the hand and got me to fill in the form and waited with a baited breath for the response from the team. When the acceptance letter came, the only thing I did not do was hijack the nearest radio station to yell out my good news to every one. Excitement, thrill, anticipation, anxiety, joy, ecstasy….. you name it and I was full to the brim with it. A country tour! a fully sponsored one..!! It was so unbelievable that every morning after that, I woke up with the fear that it was a cruelly wonderful dream and it was time to crash to reality.
But weeks went by and I continued to network with faceless names on the internet who were supposed to be on the train too. Hyderabad, Pune,Indoor, Delhi, Lucknow, Jamshedpur, Kolkatta, Chennai…… there were people from EVERYWHERE!!
Within no time at all….. or what could have been a lifetime, I was pulling my bag towards the cluster of people at IIT Powai. Got my group and cohort details, met all the faces I’d befriended on the net, and introduced myself to the people who were to become my family in the next 18 days; My group R….

The problem with us is that through out our childhood and student life, we are hammered with words like ‘unity in diversity’, the ‘magnificent patchwork of the Indian diversity’ etc so frequently that it becomes a cliche by the time we are young enough to understand the ramifications of having a diverse population. Same was the case with me. I had stood up on countless national festivals on the school and college dais and made speeches about this very multi faceted personality of the land that I call my nation. But that day, as I stood in the Ravindra Natya Mandir and looked the very same Diversity in her eye, I couldn’t think of any speech…. I was speechless. That was just the first blow in my gut.
Over the next 18 days, every time I looked out of the window and either saw a hill side, a river glittering beneath the bridge, a golden coast, a foggy stretch of open land, a city, or any of the marvelous eye pleasing portraits that my homeland threw at me, my gut twisted in a knot not just with the idea that it was all there but also with the realization that all of it was My country; My land!

Then was the factor of meeting the faces who murmured the song of success into the ears of the country. Meeting the people who defied all the conventional myths and beliefs about standing up for your dreams is something not every ambitious youth gets to do. And we didn’t just meet one or two…. there were dozens!!! From the role models and their success stories, to the panelists at the CNBC debates, they were all there, not just meeting us and showing their faces, but more often than not, seeing the same spirit that had possessed and propelled them in the hundreds of eyes drinking them in. They all spoke from their hearts; because they knew that some dreams were listening.

It was amazing and no note, speech, or even book could rightly justify what I learnt from there and the experience. All I can say is that fate had thrown my dream at me and my heart was drinking it in and my brain marinating in it. The ignored embryo of impossible dreams had been dormant in me so long; Now it is taking form, a small but potential life form pulsating with promises. It had been so long that we had been kept from dreaming big that when we were shown these people and their works, the floodgates opened to the land of never-say-never….

It was like my dream come true; But the thing about dreams is that when you dream them, you don’t expect them to fall into your lap, smiling genially up at you. And when your dream is unfolding before you, writing itself upon your very soul, hope, determination and every positive feeling available glistens to your eyes with the unshed tears. Like Shashank Sir said once, Here I was, offering a symbolic garland of our route to our nation. Here I was, paying the tribute I thought would take me a lifetime to offer at the feet of the land that was much more than a mother to me. Here I was, taking notes as dreams spoke to me. Here I was, Dreaming….. with 400 others.

To those who seek to embark on this experience, log on to and register. If there is anything worth the time, this is it.



  1. Awesum Post!!! COngrats!!! I was selected but could not go!!!

    • Hey, thanks… too bad you couldn’t go! try again next year and be there 🙂

      • Great. Lucky YOU!!! wht an experience u must have had, following your heart, which is the most difficult thing to do.

      • Thanks srini and yes, it is an experience to die for… I was so caught by the first time that I’m dying to go on another yatra…

  2. My God! Reading that I become a fan of the Jagriti Yatra.

    • Go for it once and you’ll fall in love with even more… register karo..

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