All I ask, the heaven above and the road below me – or something like that. Vagabond, a poem by Stevenson has had a huge impact on me. Or maybe wanderlust is in my genes. Traveling to far off places, becoming one with them and staying on seems to be a family trait. No, we are not hippies. We just have the wanderlust. Those wheels on our feet. That urge to just up and go when the fancy strikes.
I spent many years squashing my life in two suitcases. And the 100 pounds or so baggage allowance. Life, it is not really made to fit into a suitcase, you know. That favorite dress, that coveted frying pan, that antique punch bowl, they all had to be thrown on a dumpster or donated to charity when it was time to pack up and go. Only a nomad can understand what I mean. But I guess, we endure it because the desire to move is more than any attachments to material things.
When I decided to buy a car, my big requirement was, well, that it should be big! Big enough to hold most of my belongings and then some. So 2-3 big boxes of kitchen stuff, two large 32 inch suitcases, duffel bags, laundry baskets ( it gets really old having to buy a new laundry basket every time), 5-6 dozen hangers, 100+ clothing items, a sleeping bag or two, maybe a futon and 8-10 shoe boxes. That is not a lot, you know.
If someone asks me what I would like to take with me for a road trip, the answer is, all of the above! But if I had to pick my top five, here is what they would be.
There is no music here because, hello, there is FM and AM. And no family etc. because they will be with me one way or the other.
1. Camping Gear
A futon that can be rigged up in an hour,
a sleeping bag to sleep under the stars,
a couple of camping chairs to set up on the beach,
straw mats that are great for grass or sand,
rugs and blankets to ward off the cold
while watching that meteor shower
Well, these items should take care of my physical comfort.
2. Food, food and more food
No, this is not another TV channel by Sanjeev Kapoor. It is what I want to take with me on any road trip or long road journey. The answer is to be prepared for any scenarios. What if there are no hotels or restaurants, or maybe a strike?
Doritos and Lays and Peanuts and cashews
Snack Mixes to munch on, maybe some laddoos
Plenty of water, a crate or two of Bisleri
A six pack of Coke, while driving there is no sherry
3. First Aid is the Best Aid
Never underestimate the need for first aid. Because disaster can strike without warning. It is always best to be prepared with basic meds, band aids etc. especially when traveling with kids, or even if you are alone.
Aspirin for that headache, BandAids for that scrape
Sanitizer because not everyone washes bathroom hands
A crepe bandage or two, maybe a thermometer
Liniment to make your back feel better
Something for motion, something for sickness
Ginger ale and brandy without any questions
4. Sanitation etc.
If you are wrinkling your nose at the thought of this, you don’t know the ground reality in India. When we drove from Punjab to Himachal, I had to hold it in for almost the whole day because not a single place offered a restroom.
An extra set of clothes
rolls of toilet paper
an extra gallon of water
hand wipes and other wipes
a rubber sheet or two?
5. Tool Box and Accessories
Every car is supposed to have a tool box and a jack, and also a spare wheel. But when was the last time you checked its condition.
Coolant in the can
Air in the spare
Flat fixing spray
And a flashlight with batteries spare
I was blessed with a car that handled all of the above. But finding something that satisfies all the above requirements and also fits my budget is a tall order now.
There is a lot of buzz about new MPVs in the market and someone mentioned the new Renault Lodgy. Maybe it will fit the bill. I guess the only way to find out is take a test drive. Maybe it will surprise me like the Tata Nano did.
A long, long time ago
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile…
To listen to Madonna singing these very words…hmm.. maybe I will take my MP3 player along after all.