To travel is to take a journey into yourself.
Until before his cancer diagnosis, Arun was fond of thre things: food, travel, and the company of friends. The had been the essence of his very being, and for him they determined his quality of life. A month after the start of his treatment, since there were no restrictions on food and travel, we went to Kashmir for fifteen days. We spent seven days in Srinagar at a boutique hotel on the Nagin lake, before going on to Gulmarg. In Srinagar, the Kashmiri wazwan was delightful and made up for the restriction in movement due to a lockdown. Things appeared to be steadily getting better and back on track for Arun. Gulmarg, too, worked out well. I was pleased to see Arun navigate the slopes without much difficulty. It was paramount, given the situation, to maintain normalcy as far as possible.
On the morning of the last day of our trip we got the good news about our grandson's arrival. Babies have a tendency to take you by surprise-he was born a week before the due date. The excitement was palpable. On our journey down from Gulmarg to Srinagar, we seemed to be flying. Arun put his weight behind the car to propel us faster.
We arrived in Delhi by three in the afternoon. I suspect Arun was a bit tired, but we went straight from the airport to the hospital to see the mother and child. Arman, the new entrant into our family, soon became his only love. Arman was the most beautiful thing that had happened to him. He said, 'Just holding him is soothing to my soul. It has mad everything in life worthwhile. He now had a new purpos to his life.
Three months after his treatment had started, A PSA was below one. Radiological findings showed that some of his bone lesions had regressed, while others had leared completely. Happy with this outcome, he wanted to v a longer journey in August. We went to Switzerland, the intry he considered the most civilized and decent. He had orked and lived there for seven years in his fifties.
He knew his time was limited, and he was feeling better. Besides, travel was a passion and he had to be on the move. It was summer and Switzerland was at its most picturesque, with flowers growing along the pavements, colour-coordinated and landscaped. Everything was exceedingly clean. Despite there being many more people in the towns and villages, and many more houses than a decade earlier, it was still like a picture-perfect postcard in whichever direction we looked. We stayed in the French part of the country, travelling to familiar haunts and eating some delectable French food. The time spent in Switzerland was never enough for Arun.
We went on to Belgium to spend three days in a charming, small and old pre-Roman town with a Dutch influence called Bruges. It had old, narrow cobblestone streets, many canals and waterways, and excellent chocolate, beer and food. The street food, like waffles with strawberries and cream, was superb. The town itself had no transport except at a few places and we walked, seeking out the many recommended restaurants. Arun never tired when there was good food on the other side.
At the best of times, Arun had been a great planner and the best guide on any travel. He extensively researched a place—its cuisine, historic sites, almost anything you could think of-and it was all done well before any trip. His study was so complete that it felt as if he had been there before.
That December, after Christmas, we went to Pondicherry as a family-three different generations. It was an exceptional trip, and he got to spend quality time with his grandson. To op it all, there was interesting French and Vietnamese food managed to do being. His quality here was complete re were no gaps, pectations, and his imself. Come on offer.
Arun's condition remained stable and he man all the things that were crucial for his well-being. H of life was good for the time being. There was physical, mental and social well-being. There were at this point, between his hopes and expectations present experiences. He was at peace with himself what may, he visited his grandson Arman daily.
In May 2011, we travelled to China. Shanghai a spanking new city, yet it was a place without a soul We could have been anywhere in the world—there nothing Chinese about this city, except the people. The historical pottery collection on display at the museum wa the personal acquisition of a baron from Hong Kong. The French and British influences were apparent but old Chinese Shanghai was difficult to find.
There were no children in the streets or in the shops There were no elderly people either. We must have been the oldest couple there. The entire population of the city seemed to range between 20-40 years, and everyone was in an enormous hurry. We wanted to buy a security blanket for Arman, our grandson, and it was only on the evening of the third day of our trip, after much searching, that we discovered a small children's store in a mall. Without any more shopping to worry about, we could finally enjoy our trip.
We did all the touristy things, seeing the terracotta warriors and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian. We even ate a meal of what tasted like keema paratha in the Muslim quarter, wondering if Hiuen Tsang had, along with the Buddhist scriptures, brought the parathas back to Chile from India. The best food, of course, was in Beijing. It different from Indian-Chinese food but quite delicious stuck to seafood, chicken and duck, never quite sure the other meats were. Fifteen days later, having Visi Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, and the For City, we happily returned to Delhi with Arman's blanket.
The China trip did wonders for Arun's confidence.He was now ready to do short trips on his own. He Made to multiple trips to Goa, Kerala, Bangalore and Lucknow some of which were work-related.We even managed a bed-and-breakfast wina trip did . He . He made ins to were while others were for pleasure. on managed a short road trip to Simla, staving at and-breakfast called 'Sunny Mead' with my niece, having the most exceptional home-cooked food. The seven months of 2011 went by like a breeze, without hitch. Three monthly blood tests and radiology reassured that the disease was currently in check. He was in partial and having remission.Maintaining Nutrition While Travelling
Culinary experience is an integral part of the pleasures of travel. However, travel can be disruptive on the diet, particularly while on medication. By following the broad outlines given for a healthy diet (see p. 67-68 in 'The Relationship Between Cancer and Food'), these challenges can be overcome and imbalances can be prevented, particularly while on a long cruise or trip.
In Srinagar, the Kashmiri food where we stayed was largely non-vegetarian, centred around lamb/mutton, which is often cooked with yogurt, using little or no onions or garlic. Ordinarily, on the menu there were always some curries with the meat cooked with vegetables (not potato). This could be eaten along with a saag (spinach) substituting for the salad.
There is wisdom in finishing a meal with a fruit rather dessert rich in refined carbohydrates and sugar. This le for the Western diet as well, which should ideally start in vinegar-oil dressing, then a main course of with a salad in vinegar-oil dressin chicken or fish, and avo food, including sautée the meal. While travell careful study, selecting dishes luding sautéed vegetables or a salad works well in hile travelling, the menu at every meal requires electing dishes that ensure adequate fruits and health requirement vegetables. Foods satisfying not only the health but also the taste should be eaten. straction from the Arun was not one to alt. He was stoc of his conversation venting the disease.Dealing With Cancer
Though travelling was a complete distraction fra disease, anxiety did surface at times. Arun was complain about the hand he had been dealt. He wa about his disease, generally keeping it out of his conversa even from me. Was this his way of preventing the from affecting his spirits or was it a way of overcom anxiety for what lay ahead? Everyone reacts differene a serious illness. As we cannot wish it away, it is bet face it head on. I have always felt that being better informa about the disease, participating actively in every aspect of the illness, and looking after your body and mind improves the harmony within you, and enhances your ability to heal. This complete involvement achieves mobilization of the body to fight the disease better. Putting a problem on the backburnet is no solution. Arun read extensively about his disease but remained stoic, and did not encourage much discussion. This was his sanctuary in dealing with the situation he found himself in.