It’s about the exaggerated moments

Day 32. It’s a Monday. It’s a travel story.

Photo Credit: Ayush Singh

Yesterday, I described a friend as an anthropological traveler I meant someone who likes traveling to meet new and different people.

This morning I had an hour long conversation with a friend who’s figuring out her travel plans for the year 2017 – I think she’s just excited about the excitement of planning as much as the excitement of seeing snow (for the first time).

This evening I saw my dad’s eyes light up as an opportunity for a holiday dropped in his lap – for him travel is definitely an escape from the mundane.

At different times I have different reasons for traveling and in this moment it’s about the exaggerated moments I get to live. I have trouble living in the moment but when I am living out of the familiar I feel time slow down.

This moment happened in the Maasai Mara, Kenya.

It was our second afternoon on a safari trying to spot the big five – the lion, the elephant, the rhino, the buffalo and the leopard

Our bunch of completely different kind of travelers had gotten really lucky. We had gotten used to seeing the kindly giraffes, every time we passed by a zebra we were in awe of their extremely elegant posteriors. And we had spotted four of the big five.

We had seen a lioness almost hunt a pumba (warthog). Through a shared pair of binoculars we had spotted a cheetah in a far away tree. We had seen a rhinoceros with one question on her mind to fight or to flee. Our luck held as she chose to flee, we had driven past quite a number of buffaloes.

A drowsy post lunch crew acutely aware that our list was almost compete boarded the vehicle for the last leg and that’s when my moment happened.

I had discovered the strangest gift during the safari – I had an intuition for the big moments. A couple of minutes before we spotted the lioness I knew it was going to happen, same with the cheetah.

I don’t know if it was the goosebumps that happen or if my intense sense of smell worked in my favour. Or maybe my lousy sense of intuition that never works in normal life just decided to switch on.

Either way it happened again, I turned to the only other person awake in my vehicle, “it’s going to be a leopard”. The next minute we were whispering and shaking people awake.

The moment happened. And I finally understand why Hugh Grant’s character describes literally running into Julia Robert’s character as surreal in Notting Hill.

It’s surreal when something you’ve seen in pictures is living, breathing in fact sleeping next to you. It’s surreal when it wakes up and jumps to the ground in one swift motion and all you can see is muscles. It’s surreal when you feel the most respectful kind of fear tied up as a knot in your stomach. It’s surreal when your brain deliberately pushes away all fear so you can stand still and admire.

That is a moment that makes me catch my breath every single time I relive it. And that is why I travel.