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Secrets of an Impractical Backpacker

They were bulky, often ineffective and mostly indulgences I could have done without. But sometimes you need to ignore the rules and embrace the ‘happiness quotient’ instead.

I’ve been back a month and I’m yet to unpack completely. I don’t want to unpack. I don’t want to get too used to being home, or having a closet and too many clothes to chose from. I like having a minimal selection, I don’t mind wearing the same clothes over and over again and believe me… it’s liberating to not care what people think when you turn up for three separate occasions, wearing the same clothes (which may or may not have been laundered).

From the deep crevasses of my backpack I fished out three things that I didn’t use much, but I lugged them across three continents and twenty-two countries!

My father’s old sleeping bag It’s green and bulky. Any experienced traveler would balk at the extra weight and the fact that it’s not made from some space age material. It doesn’t even have a carrying case and it’s almost as old as I am!

But, this sleeping bag belongs to my dad- the man who led by example and turned me into the seeker, adventurer and gypsy that I am. I have a long history with this sleeping bag. It reminds me of crazy stories and situations that my dad would land up in. It’s kept him warm in cold desert nights and freezing mornings in the mountains. You can’t convince him that there is a better sleeping bag on the planet!

For me it was a safe and familiar refuge. At the end of a tough day, it was a reminder of all the lessons my dad taught me. To be positive, fearless and open to anything that came my way. I’d curl up in the sleeping bag in some dodgy hostel after a harrowing day and chuckle at the memory of my dad telling us that, “we’re not lost, we’re just taking the route no one else knows about yet.”

My Mom’s little vanity case My mom is my biggest supporter and chief cheer leader. She’s traveled to more than thirty countries and her travel advice has always bailed my behind. She had scanned every page of my passport and kept a copy in my backpack- when I got robbed in Paris, I was able to get a new passport in one day thanks to that.

She nagged me about packing light, but then the mommy in her couldn’t resist putting together a small vanity case which included a small bottle of perfume, clothes deodorizer- she knows how much I hate doing laundry, some make-up, a set of razors, fun jewelry, spare key-chain, a small mirror, a tweezer, fancy smelling miniature bath products and a mini pharmacy with everything from band-aids to antifungal foot powder to anti allergy pills! Other than the medical supplies, I didn’t use much else. But the little case was a reminder of how my mother loves to indulge me! She knew the trip would be tough and she wanted to pack a few luxuries for her daughter. Every time I’d open the case, I’d find something thoughtful my mom had stashed away for me. Even though the case weighed a couple of kilos, I couldn’t part with anything in it!

My Grandmother’s torch In February 2009, my grandma passed away. She was an amazingly independent, open-minded, well traveled; self-taught/educated woman. She had an immense lust for life, a loud laugh and an outrageous sense of humour. She pushed her daughters and her grand daughters to constantly be better and always do the right thing.

My most treasured heirloom from my grandmother is her old torch. She always carried it with her. It’s red and black, runs on two pencil cells and works best when it’s completely dark! I’m sure there are torches that weigh a fraction and light a room brighter, but none that belonged to Bimla Kapur! I remember two travel friends mocked my torch as we trekked in Thailand- saying that maybe we should light a few candles instead. I merely switched it off and let them fumble and fall in darkness till they had to take back their words!

The torch has the image of a wild boar dancing in the moonlight! It reminds me of my granny’s practical, yet incredibly fun personality. How dependable she was and how she made all our lives a little brighter.

10 Responses to “Secrets of an Impractical Backpacker”

  1. Nishat Ekbeer says:

    When I went to Goa this year for new years I took my own pillow. me and my friends had no money and it was my only luxury for one week, I slept like a log on a kitchen floor for 3 nights, what brand is your dad’s backpack???

  2. minakshi bhutani says:

    damn sweet ya, love your mom’s vanity box, you should post a list of all that you packed in your backpack, i want a peek. pls pls!

  3. Shekhawat Dhruv says:

    lol “we’re not lost, we’re just taking the route no one else knows about yet.” sounds like my dad
    also a fauji like yours, it looks like an army issue sleeping bag btw

  4. mom says:

    Thanks tithi
    you sure know how to brighten up everyone’s spirits.
    I love the way you write. love you. mom

  5. Avipsa says:

    Awwwwwww :) Now I know why your mom suddenly melted like butter in the middle of an otherwise shitty day! All the best as you go ahead!

  6. DK says:

    ur mom sounds like a kool lady, ur a luck gurl, my mom will not let me go to goa alone. and 30 countries is impressive. did she go alone?

  7. Puja rao bhasin says:

    love the part abt ur grnadma, the torch is too cute

  8. Debopriya says:

    you were my senior in Gargi college, very impressed to see your project. you should come visit us and share your experiences soon. salute!

  9. manu says:


  10. AliceIndex says:

    Absolutely made blog post. Are you a journalist?

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