Childhood is one of the good time in our life. Whatever you do as child that come direct from your heart. What does travel mean, I did not know that time. For official reasons, my father used to travel a lot. I used to listen his travel stories. My general questions were, what did you see, what were the items you eat. He used to laugh and say it was official not an outing. Hearing him made me believe that travel meant only serious works, no fun at all. Contradictory, when I used to hear others travel stories, it seemed like full of fun, adventure, excitement. Then I got to know those people were on vacation unlike my father. So I was clear in my head that vacation is fun and trip means office work.
One day one of my friend and his family were going for a vacation in Goa. And when my friend came back to school he told his fun travel stories. Where he been, where and what he ate, fun rides, sunrise to sunset, music and many more. He gifted me little bag tag written Goa. And immediately he became my best friend. That time I realised fun means travel. And my fun travel would start with Goa.
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My first travel planning
1997 at the age of 13 I planned to go Goa for my first fun travel. I was not courageous to tell my parents about my travel plan to Goa. So I broke my piggy bank and found some 550 rupees. But I needed 450 rupees more. At that age, thousand rupees was a big amount to me. It was enough to cover my vacation, in my head obviously. So I made my mission impossible plan. In coming few days I asked my father to give me some money for my new piggy bank and I did the same with my mother and elder sister as well without letting them know. I collected some 350 rupees more. And I needed 100 rupees more.
So now, the question was how to go to Goa from Kolkata. My friend told me that they travelled to Goa by train. He said from Howrah rail station to Goa by train it would take 50 hours. And my house to Howrah station I planned to go by a local minibus. So my goa vacation plan was ready. After 53-54 hours, I would reach Goa. I was feeling excited like never before. I was so excited.
My Travel packing
I had a grey colour school bag. I removed all my books and took out the pencil box and packed my Binocular, walkman, red sunglass. And my most favourite colourful t-shirts and shorts, pair of jeans, some chocolates and most importantly my school identity card. Because I heard that without an identity card, hotels do not accept booking. So my goa plan was so on.
I did not fixed a date to go. I was ready to go but needed a perfect time. One fine morning my parents were out for work. My elder sister was in school. I did not go as I faked my illness. I thought this is my day. So I wrote a letter to my family, I am going to Goa for my first vacation. Don’t worry about me I will come back in a week.
My Way to Goa
I didn’t had any knowledge of the road. But I knew somehow the bus route to Howrah station. I took a local bus and reached Howrah rail station. My plan was very simple. I thought I would go and buy a Goa ticket from ticket counter and board my train. After 50 hour I will be at Goa beach. I was excited as I asked for a ticket in the counter. When my turn came, I asked for a Goa ticket.The man looked at me shockingly and told me that I was at wrong counter. I was ready to move and looked for the right counter. But the man called me and asked me to fill a form first. I learned a new information that I need a form. But from where that was still not clear. Somehow I managed a form and again joined a long queue. But I was hungry by the time. When finally my turn came I handed over the form to the man. He asked me my age. I told him 13. He smiled and told me to come again when I am 18. People started noticing me curiously. Someone asked me, where is your father? I did not reply and moved away. I felt bad for not executing my Goa trip.
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When Digha plan is on
I had decided, firstly finished my lunch and after that, I will think about what can I do. I found a clean restaurant beside the rail station. And Suddenly I heard the sound, a bus conductor’s call for new passenger Digha, within 30 minutes the bus will start. Immediately I changed my plan. Digha is one of the famous beaches in West Bengal. So instead Goa, Digha will be the same fun. And I surely believe Digha exactly feels like Goa. So at least my Digha plan was on.
The Digha day I never Forgot
When my bus started, I was very happy. I almost forgot I didn’t inform my parents. What would happen when they would found my letter,? I was enjoying my journey, beside a window seat. And enjoying Ricky martin song, “Maria” in my walkman. What a day! After 2 hours our bus stopped for 15 minutes that time I bought a coca-cola and enjoyed every sip.
When I reached Digha, I was excited to see the seashore. But first I needed a hotel. Some people at the bus stop were grabbing my bag and asked me to come to their hotel. I thought Wow what an entry, so much importance. Now I chose a man and went to his hotel. Hotel named New Sagarika. At the reception, the man asked me “where are you coming from? What is your age?”. I gave my school identity card and told him that I needed a room for 5 days. Hotel receptionist asked me to wait and called the hotel manager. The hotel manager asked me a lot of questions. Why are you here alone? Where are your parents? What is your plan in Digha? I told him that I am here for a vacation. I wanted to go Goa but my age did not allow me to go, that’s why I came here. Hotel Manager called the local police. And then I was a little nervous and hungry again.
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One Good Man
Within 10-minutes the police came and asked me the same questions as the hotel manager did. But this time one officer asked me a unique question “did you come to Digha to commit suicide? “. I told him, why would I spend money and come to come to Digha for suicide! I could have done this in Kolkata. Police searched my bag very rudely. I was disturbed. Outside of the hotel, many people gathered and were watching me. At that moment, one young gentleman came forward within the crowd and asked me very politely “Are you hungry”.
After a few minutes, one hotel boy came with egg roll and coca-cola. The man started talking separately with the police and the manager and kept an eye on me. Later that man introduced himself to me. He was Sanjay Sen, and he had a hotel too. He asked me if I want to stay in his hotel instead. I nodded yes. Then Mr Sen suggested me to call my Parent first to inform them about my safety. I was in dilemma. If I made that call my travel would have ended there. Mr Sen made me understand the intensity of the situation. If I did not call them, then Police would do whatever they feel right. I was scared of the police as they were treating me like a criminal.
The call ruined my travel plan
So I had to call home and informed my father that I am in Digha. They were already searching for me and filed a missing complaint at the local police station. Mr Sanjay Sen spoke to my father and told him not to worry about me. Next day, he will personally drop me home safely. Again My brain worked. I requested Mr Sen to call again my parents to inform them that tomorrow he won’t be able to come but the day after tomorrow he will. He was surprised until I gave him the logic. I came for a vacation which I did not want to destroy. It already got spoiled because of the fiasco. at least I could have 2 days to explore the place. He laughed and took me to his hotel.
End of the day
I realised tomorrow afternoon I would be at my home. So I had very little time to enjoy my vacation. I asked Mr Sen, would you like to come for an evening stroll or I shall continue. He agreed as he had no other option because I was his responsibility. That was my first and last visit to Digha. But that night I enjoyed a lot. We walked through the beach. Sat somewhere near the beach. I saw every people were happy and roaming around enjoying the beach. Mr Sen offered me a horse ride. I told him that I don’t like to ride animals. Then he bought me some fresh fish fry and coconut water. I bought a black hat and a new sunglass for me. After that, he took me to a nice restaurant for dinner. I was going to stay with him in his hotel for that night, next day he would take me back to Kolkata. So I requested him again to sit beside the beach for some more time post-dinner. That time he laughed again but agreed.