Solo sojourner

Used to travel alone, cricketer Mithali Raj tells Shruthi Srinath that she likes to travel light but takes a bit of home whenever she's on her trips.

Hobbiton

Rarely at home and often checking into hotels for a stay during cricket tournaments, Mithali Raj, the skipper of the Indian women’s cricket team, says travelling has been woven into her professional life since she was 10 years old.

Then, her worried but encouraging mom handed over something to the youngster, which she carries to this day: a prayer book. “She said it would guard me on my travels. A lot of times, I had to travel by myself,” Raj remembers.

In close companion is her journal, the holder of her “thoughts, observations on and off the field” that helps her go back in time and reflect. Among its pages lies a photo of her dad and that of her late coach, Sampath Kumar, who passed away in 1997. Currency on cards, a mode of communication — a mobile phone, a pair of jeans and tee, and books are her travel essentials. “I love to read; it could be a newspaper, travelogue etc. Non-fiction is my preference, but I’m reading a mythological fiction, The Curse of Brahma, now,” the Padma Sri awardee says.

Favourite experience

Mostly, on tours, travelling means hanging out with teammates, but Mithali remembers a time in New Zealand when she visited the magical Hobbiton by herself thanks to luck. “From Hamilton, it’s a 45-minute drive. We tried for more tickets, but got only one. And I personally wanted to see it. So, I went on my own. The two-hour tour within the Hobbiton was all the more special because we had to fly out that same day. It was a very different experience,” she says. Back home, her memories of off-cricket travel are of the city Landour (in the outskirts of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand) and “the beautifully set-up cottages there,” and of carrying light luggage.

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