Waaay back in June 2014, I went on a road trip across England with my good friend Grace. In August of that same year, I made my first post introducing my travels as a photo series. Well, its been a year since the road trip and I haven’t posted anything since! College has totally absorbed my life but now that its summer, I’m back baby! Sooo after much delay, I present to you the SECOND post of the U.K. Road Trip photo series.
I went on a massive road trip across the UK from late May to mid June this year with one of my closest friends. Here is the first installment from our trip: a brief introduction to my partner in crime, Grace.
Grace and I have known each other since freshman year of high school and although she has moved several times in and out of the US, we remained in touch with one another. After two more turbulent years back in California, Grace and her family were permanently settling back down in the UK (where they are originally from). We started discussing our summer plans, mine working part time as a cashier while juggling college, hers adjusting to her new home up in Scotland. Our road trip idea first began over a tiny dream we both shared of traveling and adventure. “How amazing would it be if I actually came to England to visit you?!”, a constant fantasy I always poked at that slowly churned into reality over the course of our idle Facebook conversations. I promised her I would save up all my money from work to see her and after several long and tedious months of scanning peoples groceries, I finally booked a one-way ticket to London!
Little did Grace and I know the enormity of our nearly month long planned travels. After booking my flight, Grace quickly scrambled to pass her driving exams followed by rapid communication on which hotels to book and where to go. It was a frantic race to beat the clock before my arrival on May 27th! Most of the hotel bookings were done by Grace not to mention all the driving across England’s small, crooked streets. Grace was a nervous wreck and she had every right to be. Two twenty year old girls jumping from one city to the next in a soccer mom van was a frightening reality check. I was mostly in charge of getting my ass to Heathrow Airport on time and being the official navigator when our savvy, Aussie accented GPS screwed us over. Between all the anxiety attacks, junk food binges and wrong turns, we survived!
Although I have known Grace for nearly six years, being in a car with her for 3.5 weeks introduced me to a whole new person. We talked a lot about our future goals and aspirations, politics and family life. We mostly disagreed about everything and bickered constantly. We fought and drove ourselves crazy and annoyed the shit out of each other. While I was always looking for some mischief, Grace was thinking more logically. Safety came first to her while getting lost was always the first thing on my mind. Grace was comfortable on the ground, she kept our road trip steady and had her head screwed on straight. I was always up on some monstrous rock, feet dangling looking for adventure in dangerous places. Organized and clear headed, Grace was always one step ahead of me throughout the planning of our road trip. I simply sang along to the Spice Girls CD I brought, stubborn for some fun that would usually leave Grace worried. But through thick and thin, we always looked out for each other. – J
PS: Check out Grace’s side of the story! Click here to visit her new website.
I had spent the last 3.5 weeks road tripping across the UK and Paris. It was a fantastic trip filled with lots of captured moments that I have the rest of summer to organize, edit and upload. However, I can’t seem to ignore the sunny summer weather here in Northern California. That being said, I’ll leave you with some camera phone pictures of a beach trip my friends and I took today in Santa Cruz! Now, back to scouring through the road trip photos and getting all that sand out of my clothes…
Quick follow up with my life here… for the past 2 weeks, I spent Christmas and New Years visiting family in India. It was an awesome trip back to the motherland yet not my first. However, every trip back to India is laced with new experiences and adventures, this trip was no different. I mostly hung around the state of Maharashtra specifically between the cities of Mumbai and Pune. For the first time in my life, I traveled by plane alone. It was a very nerve-racking experience filled with (fortunately) very little hassle. On my journey to India, I mainly jumped between one family members home to the other for about 2-3 days at a time. Street shopping and bumpy rickshaw rides were a must between both destinations not to mention the incredible variety of food I was gorging three times a day. Most importantly, I was reuniting with aunts, uncles and cousins whom I had not seen for almost five years. I was also brushing up on my native tongue, Marathi and practicing my Hindi.
Another goal I had in mind while in India was to learn more about my family history. My last grandparents (the ones I was most close with) passed away in 2008 making this journey to India the first in which I would not have the pleasure of seeing them again. It was a very difficult thing for me to face, especially walking past my grandparents house knowing another family occupied the same rooms they once lived in. Their absence also left many dry, unanswered questions lingering in my mouth. Why was my grandfather in Germany and England in the 60’s? How many brothers and sisters did he really have? How did my great-grandfather pass away so young?
In America, everything is carefully documented and fairly easy to trace. If you had ancestors that lived in the US for many decades, you could most likely find some documentation such as immigration paperwork or a birth certificate about them in one of the 50 states. I thought that in India, they would also keep documentation of all there citizens. I was greatly mistaken. I was told by my parents that I could learn about my family history by visiting my family shrine in the small, desolate village on the outskirts of the coast of Konkan, Maharashtra. With my whole family on board, we rented a small travel bus and took a three-day vacation to the Arabian Sea coast. However, it took us 5 hours to travel only 70 miles due to the poorly constructed, pothole-filled roads leading us up to my family shrine. In addition to the 5 hours, we would also have to take two ferries and another 5 hour bus ride which on the second day of traveling, no one was looking forward to. Instead, we camped out at the beautiful bungalow my aunt and uncle booked for the family in advance and opted to visit the many beaches we came across throughout our journey. I quickly learned that the best way to know anything about my ancestors was to look through old black and white photos and talk to family that was already with me in the flesh. Thats just how Indians do things I guess. Maybe next time, I’ll just go to Goa for the long weekend instead of the Indian village side.
Although I never got to visit my family shrine, I sure learned a lot about my past family. I also learned that sometimes, it doesn’t matter what happened back then, but what is actually happening right now. “Just live the moment!” as my cousin liked to put it. Anyways, I had an adventure filled two weeks in India, reconnecting with family and creating memories with all the people that mattered to me at that very moment. And so, after two pints of beer, some whisky, three tequila shots, one tattoo, one drunk shopping escapade, a three-day family reunion bus ride and lots and lots of good food… its time to get back to reality. Happy 2014 everyone and I hope the new year brings with it many fun filled adventures for you as it did for me!