familiar travel song.

 Photo taken with my Nikon SLR. Ahmedabad, Gujarat: INDIA

I’ve been missing traveling. It’s been almost 18 months since I have been to another country, (besides the 2 hour plane ride for a weekend in Mexico for a friend’s vow renewal we went to last fall). I mean real travel. The exploration. Those who know me, know this is a long time. With a just reason of course, I was pregnant and then gave birth to my own love bug, rearing the travel bug in me to the side. But I’m itching again. Mommy hood has been good to me, and of course my daughter’s precious eyes, (she really does have the most unbelievable eyes), remind me that this part of the journey is a different kind of travel…to a place of unconditional love.

So I guess, the rest, well, it’s just a layover, a temporary stop in my exploration of culture, life and learning overseas. Yet at times, I still can’t help but to long to hear the song of travel, (over the sounds of Baby Einstein’s blue puppet that my daughter just goes ga-ga over).

The sounds of airports and unfamiliar tongue, the scents of a country’s comfort food sold by street vendors, the bold colors of it’s flag against the skies.

This photo is was taken on my travels to India in 2009, when I went with my mother and she led me through the neighborhoods of her childhood, turning corners and through narrow streets, recognized what was still and taking in what was new. To me, it was all new, and I stopped at anything to that made me feel something to snap my camera. Which felt like everything. In an odd way, it all was old familiar and new, even for me. I wrote this poem when I got back:


about the way

the ground felt

on her American heels

Unsteady, but ready

Emotions of a new path ran through her toes

Each step

The feeling of raw earth

Like a child learning to walk

Voices filled her


Her grandmother’s

sister, brother, best friend

Sounded like roots

Familiar, but distant


With a strength

that stayed with her.

More than just memories

Scents seeped into her mind

Ginger chai with tulsi leaves and fresh mint

were her aunt’s prayers in the morning

pencil shavings and old book pages

and she was beside her cousins who studied until late hours of the night

Folds of silk saris,

bowls of turmeric,

gasoline seeping from rickshaws

and she was at the market

drinking fresh coconut water with her mother.


about the way

the air felt on her skin

that encompassed the rhythm of a whole city

of a place that started

to feel like


Her visits to the ashram

hundreds of children

to love, help, cherish.

Gandhi-ji’s namesake


Was spiritual or something

kind of like…

visiting a past life

she was still living in.

This rhythm…

that was hard to find a genre for

wasn’t the jazz of New York,

or new age of California…

It was complex.

Like some underground joint no one ever heard of

mixed with

a beat she couldn’t get out of her head,

lyrics that she started humming,

Like a song she always knew.

it was just…


She always knew.

It’s interesting how, three and half years later, this poem has a different beat to it for me.

There I was back then, with my mother, as she showed me her old bus stop, as she led me down a dirt path to her uncle’s home, as she told me, “just try it, we don’t have it in America, you will love it,” to foods I hadn’t tasted before. And I thought, how soon, when my girl’s grown into her little self a bit more, I can take her to the monkey forest in Bali and say “this is where your father and I did a yoga retreat,” to ancient ruins in Peru, “this is history; it’s important to that we learn this,” to the stretch of the Amalfi coast in Italy, “we always dreamt of coming here,” to Paris as I point to her a store window and teach her French, “la chemise, mon petit chou,” to Uganda and smile as she steps on African earth for the first time, “this is where I helped many kids like you,” and of course India and tell her of our deep roots, “the origin of namaste.”

While, yes, I miss traveling now, I can’t wait for a new next time, with my cutie strapped to my chest, watching her exploring eyes as I lead with my exploring heart.

And until then, I will whisper memories of my travels to her as she falls asleep, tell her stories of our future travels and hum to her…that familiar travel song.


  1. Priyanka says:

    This is really beautiful, Puja. I too miss traveling, knowing that it will never be the same again since becoming a mother. But it is beautiful in a different way to experience the world through the eyes of a bebe. Happy travels to you and yours.

  2. Puja says:

    Thanks so much priyanka!