It was the 3 of us. Me, Nidhi and my friend Bijou. The only guy who was sure and readily agreed to come with us when I asked him. I told him I’ll do all the bookings for him and from time to time keep asking him to transfer cash to my brother’s account, since neither of us had used any plastic currency ever.
I had planned to do the whole of South America. Then as things became more and more clear, we realized that we wont be able to cover the whole continent. So we narrowed it down to 3 countries. And throughout all of this there was one person I kept in the loop, and it was Siddharth. Nidhi and Bijou, I would tell them about it! But Siddharth, I would discuss my details with him.
When we were kids, Papa would regale us with stories of South America and Amazon and lake Titi Caca. My father used to say that Titi Caca was like a Sea. And that it was a Sea at a height of about 4000m. 4000 bloody meters!!
When you stand on the shore, you will not be able to see the land on the opposite side. Like when you look out to the Sea, the water will merge with the Horizon(Atah Paani).” And both Siddharth and me would listen intently (me more than him I think) and make plans in our head to see this magical land. A land of the Amazon river and the Anacondas; where you could have fried ants with Beer; the land of the Andes and the magical Inca civilization.
Siddharth was jealous, and he didn’t mince no words to express it. But in fact it was me who was jealous of him. Doing bike trips to Ladakh from Delhi, going all around town (in Pune) on his Enfield. Doing trips to Goa and back, his World and weekends revolved around travelling.
And his travels were adventurous. Not you’re cushy, comfortable travelling. He liked to rough it out and he always was good with bikes and cars and instruments. Nidhi on the other hand knew him as someone who did a lot of International travel. Macau, Bangkok, Egypt etc. etc. But at the same time he liked the trips I did. I suppose a bit of sibling rivalry never hurt anyone! He had even told Mama, “Ma, Bhai World Cup dekhne South America jaa raha hai, usko jaane dena. Bechara bohot din se plan kar raha hai (Mom, brother is going to see the World Cup in South America, let him go. He has been planning it for so long).” And so I decided to start with Peru, from the west coast, from the Pacific, all the way to Rio de Janeiro (to the east coast) to the Atlantic. And all this while, each and every step of the way I would use Siddharth’s credit card to make all kinds of nominal bookings. Bookings of bus journeys, hotels, flights, hostels, even bookings on a boat on Lake Titi Caca. And I would maintain a note of all the expenses and keep paying him off so that more funds were available to use.