months ago, right after I declared I would be getting married in December, my best friends decided a bachelor trip was called for. and it had to live up to my reputation for crazy travel. places and dates were thrown around, and it was collectively decided we had to go to Thailand. I guess it was not so much actual research and thought as much as it was the stereotype promoted by the movie "the hangover" (a cult movie for most groups of guys, I'm sure, as much as it was for us).
and so, Thailand it was. a top secret whatsapp group was formed, invites were sent, and I was only temporarily added so that the venue and dates could be confirmed, and quickly removed again.
while I busied myself with getting ready to get married, my friends did a great job of figuring what exactly we had to do to have the craziest bachelor trip ever, getting the itinerary and bookings sorted, etc. - all without my explicit knowledge. it was only when most of the planning was done, I was informed. and honestly, I didn't quite care about the details. all I knew was that the friends who decided to make it were really special to me, and this was probably (realistically) the last opportunity I would have to really bond with them on a trip like this.
there were some setbacks, like a few close friends who I was looking forward to being with, canceling at the last minute, and me finding myself flat broke a few weeks before the trip. my parents were either not informed or conveniently forgot, and threw half a tantrum when I reminded them. shruti was as understanding as I could humanly expect her to be (a lot more, in fact!), but I know it was difficult for her to trust me. and there were some friends (yes, mayur, I'm talking about you) whose repeated, if light hearted, jokes about "bang bang" and "pee pee massage" were a constant reminder to her about what could happen. I made promises, but we both knew that promises could be broken.
and then, of course, there was my life. when we started planning, I hadn't even started preparing for my wedding (in fact, the wedding dates were changed even after we had already started the trip planning!) as I got into wedding preparations, things started getting crazy. I was literally struggling against an ever growing to-do list that was refusing to get stuff checked off. things felt like they were getting out of control.
a month before the trip, I actually half considered calling it off. I guess it was less out of respect for what my friends had all done to plan it for me (and obviously, there was a significant amount of money at stake) and more out of the realization that I really needed this, that I dismissed all thoughts of canceling.
the days before the trip were harrowing, to say the least. I was literally struggling to stay afloat and productive at work. I was sleep deprived, overworked, frustrated and broke.
but then things started improving. I got a lot checked off my todo in a week. things improved at work. shruti was more supportive than usual, and I got my paycheck.
I slept just two hours, the night before we left. I started packing at what was my usual bedtime. I headed to office sleep deprived and unenthusiastic. my office colleagues were probably more excited than I was. I was planning to do some overtime and leave in time for my flight, but my colleagues would hear nothing of it. and so, pre-drinking plans were made, shruti was called to see us off, and the fun started well before we even took off.
what happened in Thailand was half a blur (also, a bachelor trip without a secrecy pact isn't really a bachelor trip, is it?), and so I'm going to skip the details... but now, on the flight back home, nursing my 3rd gin and tonic, I think I can talk about what I got from the trip.
for starters, you can have real friends, even if you barely meet them twice a year, and have never traveled with them ever before. friends are the same people, no matter where you go. the level of comfort used to surprise me, but I kinda take it for granted now.
also, you can have a good (nay, amazing!) time on a vacation even if your objectives are different.
I have finally accepted that I do have a taste for luxury, even though I have scorned it all my life. opulence can actually be enjoyable. it's possible to travel without converting every transaction to my own currency, and subtracting it from my ever-diminishing bank balance.
and last, but not the least, I am now ready to get married.
travel is a good way to assess similarities and differences, and after traveling with shruti earlier, and now with the guys, I can now say that I fully appreciate how much shruti "completes" me.
I hate to admit it, but I think I have to: I am ready to go back home to her. after 5 days of luxury service apartments, private bungalows and opulent hotels, I crave my simple life. the life that I have been so carefully setting up for myself. the life that actually seems awesome now. when the plane started taxiing in Mumbai, 5 days ago, I was relieved to let go of my life back home. but now that we're a little over an hour from touchdown, my enthusiasm for the future beats any remorse of the trip being over.
married life will probably be difficult, but it definitely will be awesome.