Hoshner and I met on a Tiger Safari in Pench in Madhya Pradesh over a decade ago. It was a common friends’ birthday and 10 of us came from three cities across the country to celebrate our friend, go tiger spotting and drink.
We mostly talked about our shared interests in travel and exploration. He was wearing orange pants and seemed more interested in taking photographs of goats, deer and spiders than people or his friends. This I soon learnt was what drew Hoshner to photography, nature, animals and random people, the older and crinkly the better.
Years after that meeting, after many Saturday afternoon chats on MSN Messenger (yep it was that far back) we finally got together and to cut a long story short, are now married. I remember on one of our first trips together after we had started dating, he warned me that he would bring his camera along; we were headed to the hills. I shrugged, ‘why should I care’. ‘Because most people do’ he replied.
I soon understood why everyone did: travelling with Hoshner and his camera means being the third person at that party. But it didn’t really trouble me, I love his photographs and have always been happy to support and encourage his craft. But back then it was different, it was a time when we were travelling on holiday, for a few days at a time or a couple of weeks at the most and our reasons for travel were different. In the time of deadlines and traffic, travel was a means of escape, a chance to unwind and leave life behind for those precious few moments.
Today, two years after we have quit our jobs and journeyed across India, moving from place to place, bus to bus, our reason and style of travel is different. Now our travel has become a large part of our lives and an extension of ourselves in many ways. Two years into this adventure, where we spend all our time together, be it on the road or at home, life and our relationship has changed, ever so slightly. Working and living together, where even social engagements are sometimes ‘work’ related and must be attended together, can get extremely challenging, especially for two people who are fairly independent and happy to spend hours with their own thoughts.
If there is one thing we have both probably learnt from this, it is a lot of patience, at least I know I have. Working together is not that difficult, we have many married friends who run businesses with their spouses, it is the constant togetherness while traveling that sometimes gets difficult. Especially in places where language is an issue and we go for days with only each other to talk to, and the world around us for company. But, what’s great about traveling with a spouse in those times, someone you are so comfortable with, is that you can spend days with only taking to that one person, or even exist in a companionable silence. And there is great comfort which we take solace in, especially in hard times.
Travelling with Hoshner and his camera, which is an extension of himself, is sometimes like traveling with a child, or what I imagine that to be like! The photographer in him, which takes over the minute we step out of the house or homestay or hotel or village stay, ensures that he is effectively sees nothing else but the world through his lens. Which means that I have to plan and keep track of time and money and space, all of which can sometimes become intensely frustrating. While I’m happy to be the planner and the adult, I don’t necessarily want to do it all the time, which usually leads to some amount of friction and bickering. It’s also terribly annoying because our lives are governed by the movement of the sun, that soft morning light or the brilliant reds of the setting sun, and everything else that I may or may not want to do sometimes has to take a back seat.
So I wait, sometimes endlessly, while Hoshner chases a sunset or a group of kids or waits for the angle of the sun to change ever so slightly for that one perfect shot of a monument. Or we hang about endlessly till said monument clears of people long enough for him to capture its essence in all its glory. It almost always takes him twice as long to finish seeing a monument because doorknobs and turrets have to be photographed and I spend a lot of time waiting. I have now become a selfie queen! In many places I chat with random people, guards, other tourists and travellers, the ones who are curious about us and these conversations are a great insight into the lives of people, and provide me with stories to tell, so sometimes the waiting can be fun and amusing. often times I find myself a nice cool corner and read, or write the mundane things that find themselves onto this blog. The only time we actually ‘see’ a monument together is in those rare occasions when they don’t allow in a camera, and then it’s usually speed viewing because Hoshner doesn’t know what to do with himself without a camera, which is quite funny to watch.
It’s hard to complain too much though because the end results, the stunning photographs you see here, are usually worth the effort of getting up at unearthly hours of the morning or climbing over gates and fences and random walls to help Hoshner carry his equipment or shoot something from another angle. And I usually forget to grumble and groan when I see what his (and my) efforts have produced!
The type of travel we do, which can get quite difficult at times, is only possible with someone you are extremely comfortable with for long periods of time, someone you can rely on and I don’t think either of us can imagine embarking on such a journey with anyone else.
But this sort of budget travel also calls for extremely high levels of compromise, which sometimes, for two only children, can get rather tiresome, as we have learnt.
Food is probably the one thing we argue about the most (though there are plenty of other little things as well from packing to who gets to carry what). With a limited budget it usually means we have to order a couple of things and share, without wasting food or money, and boy does that invite a whole lotta discussion and arguing, especially in the run of the mill cheap hotels or guest houses where a quick generic meal is best. I usually want something safe, like a dal or vegetables and he only wants to eat tandoori chicken, or at a Chinese place where I want noodles and he wants rice, it’s a battle of the wills. Who will back down first! I feel like it’s always me (though he might just say the same). So now we take turns, or we each order one thing which usually makes for some pretty mismatched hilarious meal combos! All part of the adventure I suppose!
They say that couples that travel together stay together. I can’t really comment on others, but I do know that the manner and style in which we travel can very easily break relationships. A very famous blogger couple that travels the world full time recently took a half a year’s break from each other, the toll of their chosen lives had overtaken them. They are thankfully back together and travelling again. We understand the perils of moving constantly, the toll that traveling through the heat and dust of India, shady hotel rooms and bad tummies can take on ones own self, and what that can do to the other. It takes a strong companion to be able to handle the stress of travel, blogging, money and rejection, and a cranky spouse on top of it. And it is during those times, for all that he does and puts up with, the solidness he provides, that I am very happy to be travelling with my husband, camera and all. Because beyond staying together, it means that we are exploring a whole new world together, understanding this crazy country and ourselves along the way, and that’s really what is at the heart of it.