For as long as I can remember, I've had deep and earnest desire to travel and explore the world around me. Growing up, I wanted to be a diplomat so I could live in a different country every few years. And until I was able to do that, I travelled vicariously through books and television. However, as you grow up, you realise that your childhood fantasies may not quite be the right fit for you. Despite a mental shift in career paths, I wasn't cured of the travel bug. I continued to devour travel books and shows. On our recent trip back to India, Ed found one such book: 100 Most Beautiful Cities of the World. I bought the book ten years ago and never imagined that I would actually be able to visit almost half of the cities in the book in the few years that followed ( through a combination of extreme wanderlust, luck, planning, the arrival of budget airlines and roughing it!).
Despite having travelled to many of my dream destinations, the travel bug continues to egg me on to discover new and exciting places. I'm older now, possibly less adept at sleeping in communal dorms and have a mortgage. Hence my travel wish list is less ambitious and not time bound. Nevertheless, here are some of the places that I hope I can visit in the next few years:
1. Sicily: I want to soak up the cultural diversity of the little island, wander around cosmopolitan Palermo, relax in the exotic Aeolian islands, hike up to the island's famous volcanoes and indulge in its sensational yet wholesome cuisine.
2. Japan: I love all things Japanese. I'd like to experience the buzz of Tokyo and the creative excitement of its Harajuku suburb , eat the most fantastic versions of sushi, make friends with a geisha, stock up on matcha, watch a sumo match, travel on the bullet train, visit little fishing villages and so much more!
3. Australia: I really like the Aussies and would like to visit their country, check out its cosmopolitan cities as well as its rural districts. I'd particularly like to experience the cultural scene of Melbourne, Sydney's architecture, the great barrier reef and smile at a kangaroo in the wild.
4. Iceland and Northern Lights: I fancy learning the Icelandic language, bar hopping in Reykjavik, visiting the country's many natural wonders and witnessing the spectacular aurora borealis.
Whilst travel opens your mind and helps you grow as a person, it is important to not forget one's own culture. In an effort to stay true to my roots I cook Indian ( and Keralite) food as often as I can and indulge in a but if Keralite fashion. The traditional dress worn by Keralite women is the 'Set Mundu'. Keralite fashion is very minimalist; it is all about whites and crisp cotton. I suppose it explains my evolved fascination with Cos, Crea Concept and other such brands that channel summer lightness best. Anyway, I found a lovely Set Mundu whilst in Kerala and had to feature it as a toast to my culture. How often I wear it in the UK remains to be seen!
What does your travel wish list look like? And what have you fine lately to reaffirm your cultural identity? I'd love to hear. Ann x