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Go Gokarna by Aishwarya

Usually travelogues start with stuff about where the place was, how the place was and then how the experience there was. In this travelogue of mine, it’s quite the other way around. Because when i came back home, it was the memories that counted, so many many memories of people and places!

In a world of chaos, making money and running a life, there are just a few people who seek to be gypsies every now and then. So, what you’re going to read about is a trip to Gokarna, not just about where’s and when’s, but also about the how’s and highs!

‘Safarnama travels’, it was pure serendipity when I came across this group. ‘Starts with you, ends within you.’, the caption read. Unlike Airbnb, Ibibo and several such agencies, this tagline was not just another eye catcher. It made me feel intrigued, for only people who LIVE travel can come up with such words. Curious and excited at the same time, I checked through the website and the prices were so nominal! I realized how my n number of lame purchases in shopper stops wouldn’t get into the pages of my diary.

And so, from the month after, I saved up money in my piggy bank, I shortlisted a number of places that my soul reached out to, and I bookmarked several links in Safarnama. Luck as I may consider it, it was much more than what I thought I would get.

And this trip is one of the most treasured days of my life. I can think of no better beginning to the journey than to mention about this guy who just goes about spreading love and joy wherever he is at. Saurabh Rai, you are one hell of a person.

You might think what makes him so special, I’ll tell you why. You might have met organizers or guilds who give you an itinerary, tell you how long you can spend in each place, the whereabouts of lunch and relaxation. They’ll do it having a bland expression, the one of boredom, for you’re just another customer. They’ll be ‘just another’ kinda organizers.

Saurabh is a gypsy magnet, from the very beginning of the trip to the time you get down the bus, bidding bye, he’ll keep it so full of life. You’ll wake up to his cheery good mornings and go to bed with the utter surety of being taken care of, and a kick-ass tomorrow. Saurabh gives life to the trip.

Going with a group of other travelers, it’s a case of nobody knows anybody. You wouldn’t be sitting idle, fidgeting with your gadget or lost in your headphones, because what happens in the very beginning itself kick starts a cocktail like tour. Knowing who’s who is fun, especially when it comes to traveling with a huge group for two days straight. Sullen expressions and tattered groups are no fun. So once we got on the bus, each one of us introduced ourselves. Safarnama’s first move to a magical trip is to get us all know about the name of each one we’re traveling with, a little spice about the craziest thing they’ve done, and a beautiful one-word term of their nature.

And one by one, as each person tells about themselves, the others applaud, they giggle and rejoice. Having the ice broken, the next is music and dance, for who wants to spend a whole 8-hour journey in silence? As the beats drop and music takes life, the bus itself becomes a party zone.

After months of monotonous work and tension, everybody eases while they dance, together with a whole bunch of other people. And little would they know that strangers when they met would eventually turn out to be good friends!

Having danced our hearts out, we happily fell asleep. We woke up to the seashore, to windy beaches, and the mighty ocean in front of us. And the best perk? Our tents were put out right ahead of the seashore. The one night that we slept there, was a night when the waves cradled us with lullabies, a night to remember! For we all slept in the very bosom of nature.

Freshening up and having super tasty food in an open-air restaurant, right behind our tents, the phrase ‘breakfast by the beach’, made complete sense. Staying out of touch with the world eases you far more than you realize, WhatsApp and Facebook aside, just blending in with the universe itself is a feeling that can’t be described in a string of alphabets.

Our much-awaited beach trek began, with glucose in our backpacks and excitement in ourselves, we couldn’t wait to put on our trek shoes and sporty shorts. We took off on a journey across 5 magnificent beaches in one go. As I count with my fingers like a kid, there’s a broad smile as I’m going to step into 5 facets of the mighty mother ocean. The half moon beach, the Om beach, the paradise beach, the Kudle beach and the Gokarna beach.

We were all so enthralled when what we thought the most beautiful beach that we ever saw kept getting prettier, as we trekked from one to another. Dipping ourselves in each ocean, be it 20’s or 30’s or 40’s, all of us played like children, splashing water on each other, laughing out loud amidst waves and joining hands to form a teeny tiny circle in the might ocean that lay ahead!

Nature has a marvelous ability to make you go agape, for we all are just a blink of the universe, too tiny, yet too strong. As we clicked photos of one beach after the other, there was once a point when we realized that not all the moments we enjoyed are to be captured, some are just meant to be lived! And so I bid a goodbye to my camera as well, in addition to the internet of course.

What kept us bouncing our way was a Bluetooth speaker which played possibly every song we loved, we were in all terms, just rejoicing every step we made, every view we had, and every breath we took! And who was the one to choose the songs, upload them and play them as he walked with us, talked with us and made sure we had fun? Saurabh Rai, you are the first thought that everyone has when they recollect this trip.

Some moments in life can never be described, especially the ones that connect to your heart. It was one such beautiful moment for me when I was standing amidst the waters, looking right ahead at the sunset. With nothing but water in the vicinity, I forgot about everything else as nature herself looked at me. Breeze brushing against my hair, and waves jolting me up and down, I saw the solar slowly set, right in front of me, I needed no camera, no videotape or nothing man made. These moments are only meant for the soul. In a minute or two, the sun went down and a crescent came up on the other side of the sky. Wedged in between the sea and sky, all of us became a beautiful blend of both.

Lunching on the seashore, sipping a beer pint, we were in all terms ‘chilling out.’ Messy hair, salty air, and soothing waves, strolling on the beach lazily was bliss. Walking beside one another, everyone in the group shared deep heartfelt conversations and it was a beautiful day shared together.

Coming back to the tents, a sumptuous dinner awaited. Good tasty food after a day long trek marks a perfect beginning to an exciting night ahead. As we all sat around a cozy bonfire, a guy from Safarnama played the guitar and we all sang to the tunes in unison. As he went about playing mash-up songs, a few of us started dancing. And it was one hell of a romantic night for the couples who came. Bonfire, dances, guitar strings and songs, what more could make an evening blissful?

It was my birthday then and I had a birthday twin too, and what we were gifted with surprise (along with his birthday bumps of course:P)were two beautiful cakes; as everyone in the group cheered and sang for us, we couldn’t have been happier.

There was more to the trip! Having a whole night to spend, we all sat together before the waves with a couple of games to play. Truth or dare, Antakshari and more dance followed. Before we even knew, it was already 4 in the morning. The clock was almost forgotten as games passed after the other. 4 in the morning, having danced and rejoiced, all of us slept with such peace. It was not just a weekend getaway, it was so much more fun than what we thought.

What seemed like eternity was just a weekend tour. I felt so good when all this came for such an affordable rate, Safarnama people were travel bugs themselves, we were not clients for them, we were friends! And just as the caption said, what started with us ended within us. Met as strangers and parting as friends, we gave friendly hugs to everyone who came with a silent promise that we’ll meet again in yet another journey.

And I’ve already planned my next trek, and money is right inside my piggy bank. As I sign off for now, I open another tab of Safarnama thinking, ‘Now where?!’ As for the gypsy in me, she’s stricken Gokarna off her list and she loved it! Trek trips, Tent stays, Ocean dips, Sunsets and seashores, Backpacking and Bonfires, Guitar nights, Vintage forts, Friendships that build, Lover besides, Gypsy days! Travel and my addiction. ❤ — Ayesha

P.S: And oh! It wouldn’t have been the same without Safarnama:) Worth every single penny. Warning: Fun overload!