I love traveling. Love everything about traveling. I’ll take anything from a flight to a train ride to a bus ride to a car ride longer than an hour. Except the packing of course! I think it’s because while you are traveling you are in a state of suspended animation, your life is literally on hold, everything that binds your life at home, your routine, nothing matters inside a plane, train, bus or car. Once you are on terra firma again, you are expected to start acting normal and doing things according to plan. But all rules go out the window while you are traveling, especially the diets! At home I try to be careful about what I eat because I gain weight so easily. So while I am traveling, I go nuts. I love to keep eating, even though I am not exercising. I mean how luxurious is a flight? You are sitting back in your chair and someone is constantly serving you food. It’s even neatly packaged and everything. And they clear it away after you are done. Now think about the Indian trains. The vendors are constantly going in and out selling everything from tea and coffee to cutlets and vadas. And that is just in between meals. All you have to do is reach for your purse!
The bus and car rides are perhaps the least pampering modes of travel but fun in their own way. You pack your food in little doggie bags and keep munching all along the ride. You have to be a little careful with your supplies because you get food stops only once in a while and that too may not be your favorite place if its a bus! I am thinking of the 12 hour Greyhound rides from Ohio State to Cornell. We would stop and change buses at Cleveland and Buffalo and I had to eat at either of these places. Neither had a good cafe at the bus terminus. Most of the times it was either Ramen noodles or a bad chicken sandwich at Buffalo and some kind of a pastry at Cleveland. But those days being in grad school and all, I wasn’t really picky about the quality of the food. Occasionally I would carry something along if I remembered. Otherwise I would eat whatever I could find because either I was too excited to care what I was eating or too depressed!
Car trips are much nicer. My first one in the US was one of my most memorable. It was in my first year of grad school with a bunch of college friends and we drove around Florida for 4 days. We set off with a rough plan, a huge box of Christmas cookies, bread, butter, jam and some Indian namkeen and pickles. For 4 days when we were hungry before lunch and wanted to save some cash, that’s what we ate. At nights we would try to check into hotels with kitchenettes in them and buy some rice, yogurt and potatoes. We would boil the rice and potatoes and eat them with yogurt, namkeen and pickles. At the time, I was quite upset about not getting a proper meal. But looking back, it was the stuff of stories. This is what I will be telling my son when he is old enough to understand and complains about his food!
The most food fun road trips I’ve had are those that hubby and I take together. We both love our food. He takes care of stocking up on the drinks – cases of soda, coffee and water. I take care of the food – cakes, cookies, chips and the like. He mostly does the driving and I keep handing him the food. Every time it’s time for a meal and even sometimes when it’s not, we stop and have a good meal – neither of us believes in depriving ourselves just because we are not on schedule! In fact en route the Bay Area to Napa valley there is a fast food place where we always stop and have the spicy chicken fingers with their hot sauce. One time when we were traveling from Cornell to Ohio State, I was carrying a 3l bowl full of fruit salad that was sitting in the fridge and I was worried might rot soon. We ate it all halfway into the ride. And then stopped for a late lunch!
Recently I traveled from Chennai to Bangalore and back by car with my parents and the baby. He was in his car seat for the first time since moving back. I was worried that he would hate it. But I found out that he is the perfect traveler. He looked around, fell asleep, woke up and ate a meal, followed it up with snacks – crackers, chips, juice, lollypop (I let the rules on his food also go when we are traveling), complained about being strapped down for a while and then promptly went back to sleep until the end of the ride. I am thrilled to discover that he loves to do exactly what I do when I’m traveling – eat and sleep. I’m looking forward to a lot of fun trips with him!