Traveling With Your Friends, aka, Waking Up To 999 WhatsApp Messages And No Decision

Six friends standing silhouetted against a starry night, or an expansive ocean, or a beautiful sunset. Arm in arm, at the end of their travels, which had, like a meticulously concocted potion, equal measures of fun, moments of self-discovery, carefully curated moments of frolic, precious bonding and meetings with strangers that change perspectives. The wind rushing through their hair, an unmistakeable sense of life-affirmation pounding through their veins and a genuine sense of love for their friends and a love for their lives. This, shall happen to you too, when you go traveling with your friends, you glibly believe. You’ve seen Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Dil Chahta Hai and Eurotrip. You have already created a playlist with songs like Ramble On, that you think you will listen to, and Babydoll, that you will actually listen to. You’ve packed that Proust you’ve never read, convinced that spread out on a beach somewhere, you will read it. With your friends, you’ll discover cute eating joints, quaint little shops, and new ways of living. And of course all this will be documented through Instagram.

Unfortunately, the Valencia filter does not extend to real life.

What will really happen : You’ll plan and coordinate fruitlessly for weeks. Your group chat will begin to resemble a Pythagorean equation-solving process, peppered with passive-aggression and frustration.

Nikita : Hey guys, should I book two shared bathrooms for all of us?

Rinki : Yeah sure, go ahead.

Nikita : Everybody cool with it?

Aarti : Yeah, yeah, not a problem.

Nikita : Okay, I’m booking it then.

(Five hours later)

Ridhima : Dude, we can’t share toilets! I am not okay with this!

Nikita : But I’ve already booked them…

Rinki : It’s fine, we’ll manage.

Ridhima : It’s not about the bathrooms. I just wish someone would care to take my opinion into consideration. We’re supposed to be a team, but I never get to have a say. Even that one time, for that group project no one asked me..

Ayushi : Why did the tomato go red when it saw the salad? Because it wasn’t dressed! Hahahahaha!

On the road : You want to reach the airport early to sip with a coffee and  read a book and feel like a real serious traveler. Your friend will arrive an hour late and the methi chutney will have spilled in her suitcase and there will be chaos covered in a green haze of methi. You’ll sit next to the one friend who hogs both the armrests, and when you finally arrive at your hotel, you’ll collapse, dusty and annoyed with yourself for ever having befriended these people. Too tired to take “checked-in” pictures.

You’ve planned the itinerary of the next day carefully. You’ll all wake up at 4 am, and see the sun rise from Sunrise Point. Then you’ll head to the National Museum of Art, which is what any curious,intelligent tourist would do.  None of your friends wake up before 5 am, and spend an hour drinking tea and eating omelettes and deciding whether the green earrings go with the white dress. Fuming silently to yourself, you’ll slowly give up the hope of seeing the sunrise and cling to the last vestiges of your sanity by imagining yourself in the museum. Your friends will spend two hours getting ready, and when, feeling like a shepherd with an unruly herd of sheep, you’ve finally managed to usher them out of the hotel, one of them will say, “Dude this museum is so boring. Let’s go to Adventureland instead.” Adventureland is a tourist scam, you tell them. Also, the smell of sweat-infused rubber rides make you want to vomit.

You reach the end of your tether when you’re asked to pick out a restaurant for the evening’s dinner. You pick out a delightful, reasonably priced place which serves authentic local cuisine. “No, I don’t feel like eating this today. Let’s have Italian.” You find an Italian restaurant. “That’s way too far.” You end up in a greasy dhaba. Later that night, when your stomach is churning because of your butter chicken, you wish you didn’t have any friends. Even later that night, when you’re vomiting and one friend is holding your hair back, another is searching for medicines, someone is calling your doctor and yet another is checking if the museum is open tomorrow to distract you, you’re glad that you have friends and feel immensely grateful for their presence in your life.

-Anushmita Mohanty
English 1B

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