I love diaries. I wish people would gift diaries to me more often. Any diary I receive — hand-me-down, promotional merchandise, or a gift — gets my mind racing about where I will travel next, because I always associate diaries with exploring new places, with each diary symbolizing a new journey and a new story to write.
Whenever I set out on a trip with friends, my pen and diary find a safe corner in my cluttered bag, first thing. Any second of my trip can inspire me to jot down my thoughts as and when they strike me. It’s happened at 3 AM on an overnight train, when I was mesmerized by the silence that engulfed my crowded surroundings. It’s happened during the day when I saw children playing cricket in the middle of a bustling marketplace, oblivious to the marauding shopkeepers yelling at them to shift to the playground instead. It’s happened when someone bestowed an act of kindness when I was caught off guard. And it’s happened when I’ve missed a bus on my way back home, because I knew the hysteria and frenzy of that moment would be so ludicrous in hindsight.
I like to believe that writers write solely for themselves. But during my travel escapades, I’ve realized that’s not always the case. Being the one experiencing an entire whirlwind of emotions, I write for the people with me. For the friend who slept through the entire journey to our destination and missed the serenity of the palm trees flanking over the road we drove across. For the friend who was busy capturing photographs of something I could never understand. For the strangers who touched our lives during the journey and should never be forgotten.
And although I love diaries, I feel exhilarated when I part with them. Once I’ve documented every heart-rending moment of my trip in my diary, I gift it to the companion who made the trip happen. After spending all that time writing and observing my surroundings, I realize I don’t need those diaries anymore. The thoughts emerged in my mind, and I don’t need a token as a reminder. Instead, my diary becomes a memento for someone else.
Upon gifting several travel diaries, I’ve realized that friends always appreciate an honest piece of writing. It gives me the pleasure of knowing that the memories of our trip together are ignited in somebody else’s mind every now and then. It is my way of simply telling them that the trip augmented my life in so many more ways than one.
I often wonder who I’ll write for when I travel solo. Perhaps the experience of traveling alone will inspire me to write for someone who I think may want to walk the same path some time soon. Or someone I don’t even know.
I already have 13 diaries piled on my desk, and I have an entire year to look forward to.