When we started IshqInABackpack.com in 2006, the whole purpose of the blog was to document our first backpacking honeymoon together, and to keep our respective families in California and New Jersey updated as to our whereabouts. And for them to know we hadn’t fallen down a well (there are many cases of people falling down wells in India, apparently). If our families all had Facebook and twitter in 2006 like they do today (including Navdeep’s father, Pashaura Singh Dhillon, a 70 year old Punjabi poet and singer), perhaps we never would have taken the time to create this blog! But we’re glad we did.
Our travelling experiences couldn’t have been more different. Navdeep had lived and travelled extensively in China for two years, and backpacked very frugally throughout China, Nepal, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Tibet, which he insists is a separate country from China. He spent his childhood in various countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, so travel was very much in his blood. Although born in Iran, Sona was raised in a suburb of New Jersey from the time she was 5 years old and had only traveled on family trips to places like India and Italy with shopping as a major component. So her idea of frugal was very different from Navdeep’s. And yet, it all coalesced during our trip and we had a deep understanding for the various cultures of the areas in India we visited, as well as a deeper understanding for each other.
When we returned, we had the inevitable “reverse” culture shock of having to adjust to everyday life again, and we quickly realized that despite some scary situations with local buses, the drama of haggling, and little tiffs between us on things like Navdeep not reacting fast enough to insects within Sona’s line of vision, and the “heinous” amount of shopping Navdeep felt he was “tricked into” being an active participant and/or bearing witness to, the fact was that we enjoyed traveling together. And we didn’t want our honeymoon to be over. So we kept the site up while we made the boring decisions of life: where to live and what to do for money. It wasn’t long before the impractical idea of another extended backpacking trip to Greece started to form. Then Sona got pregnant. All by herself. And we had to completely change our way of thinking. We had to start thinking about setting aside a massive amount of money for normal baby supplies like nappies, formula, clothes she would outgrown within a week, more clothes, baby food, and an even more massive amount of money for insurance, a cold, hard reminder that we’re in America. So, basically, we blew our budget for about seven years of vagabonding in under nine months. An approximate figure.
But rather than reminiscing about that one backpacking trip we took before we started being responsible, law abiding, adults, we decided to pave our own path, and continue to discover the world one honeymoon at a time. Kavya is now 24 months old and has already seen both the East and West Coasts of the United States, ate herself into a frenzy in the Dominican Republic, seen an active Volcano and black sand beaches in Hawaii. Think the honeymoon has to stop just because there’s a baby? Nope. It just gets better.
And now a reward for you, patient reader, for reading this far:
I’m sure you’re wondering what on earth Ishq In A Backpack means. We’ll keep you in suspense no longer. It was the title of a non-fiction story Navdeep wrote specifically for Sona in an effort to entice her into the world of capturing the spirit of independent spirit. Ishq roughly means “love,” but it goes much deeper than that. In at least four languages that we know of in the Indian subcontinent, the word Ishq is a word used to describe a specific, passionate, highly impractical, powerful type of love that invokes emotions that can only be described as “crazy.” Not the kind of love that you can fall out of, or the kind of love you have for ice-cream or reading a good book (unless you have problems). It’s the sort where all rational thoughts gets chucked out the window and you become obsessed and start behaving like a lunatic. So now, loyal reader, you know the story of Ishq. In. A. Backpack. Stay tuned for more adventures!