Just a little over three years ago, I was chained to my desk at People magazine, working sixty-plus hour weeks. Yeah, I got to interview celebs and blah blah blah, but to me it was all just a day job. I was too wimpy to quit to pursue my real dream, filmmaking. And then I met Navdeep. A hardcore traveler who’d lived in China and backpacked overland through Tibet into India. An adventurer who scoffed at the idea of staying in one of the fancy pant palaces converted into hotels in Rajasthan (as my sister and I did on our trip there). He thought nothing of sleeping alone in a tent in the middle of God-knows-where in Mongolia. I didn’t know it then, but his free spirit (and indie travel bug) were about to rub off on me, big time. Now, at 30, I’m a fulltime freelance writer with all the instability that implies. Journalism, unfinished novels, screenplays gathering dust in a pile on my bookshelf.
I’m not sure exactly when the idea of a three-month long honeymoon jaunt in India started to percolate between us, but for the longest time I didn’t take it seriously. We both had strong roots in the country, but for me, a trip to India simply meant being shuffled from one relative’s house to the next in Delhi. Besides, who really quits their dayjob to pursue something as amorphous and unstable as writing fulltime—let alone pursuing the fantasy of filmmaking? Even with the clips from those glossy magazines everyone picks up at the newsstand, the decision was impractical at best. Besides, shouldn’t we be thinking about serious married-people things like health insurance and 401Ks?
But the idea just wouldn’t die. As we fell into the typical Gen-X/Y (which are we, anyway?) angst of low-paying permalance gigs without benefits (Navdeep as an adjunct English instructor and photographer, myself as a freelance writer), we asked ourselves why we couldn’t just drop everything and jet off for three months? What, really, were we leaving behind? As I went from one freelance gig to another, Navdeep brought up the idea again. Why not? He could take a semester off, lining up work for the spring in advance, and we could pitch travel stories along wave. After all, what’s the point of being a freelance writer if you can’t be—well, free?
Soon enough, we were researching itineraries and contemplating equipment. Backpacks. Travel guides. The tickets were booked. Navdeep had his camera, and he saw this trip as just the right opportunity for me to finally pick up mine. I’d long written screenplays, but was always too scared to just go ahead and shoot something. So we thought we’d start small, shooting short pieces on the road for our website, which would keep us sharp, writing-wise. Here on IshqInABackpack.com, you see the results of our labors.
We’re still in the midst of gearing up, and with the trip now just a month away, the tickets are booked, the website is launched, and we’re set to shoot (and eat) our way through India. After 30 years of waiting, my big adventure is finally about to begin. And though he may be my opposite in many ways, I’m glad I’ll get to share it with Navdeep. He’s sure to lead me into corners of this world that I’d never see otherwise. And I can’t wait to get started.