I was recently trying to put all my logical judgments and answer a burning query of mine “why do I consider myself a traveler, when I address most of the people, including many friends, as tourists?” I mean, I take the same road, experience similar locale, and possibly meet the same local people. So why this demarcation? Is it the term ’a traveler’ which has some sort of bounding appeal to it? What makes me a traveler?
I realized the answer, on its own, while having a conversation with an old friend, who came home for a quick visit, a couple of days ago. He was getting married in 6 months from now and was busy doing overtime to get promoted before the marriage. Under such convoluted circumstances, I asked him if he fancied a short motorbiking expedition in the Himalayas (I really did mention the word ‘short’). And the first thing he said was: “For how long? Give me the dates when we are leaving and arriving.”
I took a little breath, pondered, and then described a tentative route map, with all the precise dates my mind had the ability to process. Starting with a perfect play of weekend (as I know white collared folks often do) I told him, “we will leave on the coming Friday, and our first destination would be Kaza, near Indio-Tibet border. We will cover a few hidden on the way and see how long it takes.” Suddenly I realised the answer to my burning query…
It’s the fact that we never know when we’re coming back, is what makes us travelers. We don’t want to lead the road, rather follow it to infinity. We are helpless against the ecstasy and the joy of losing ourselves to the oblivion. I am addicted to this idea too. And that’s what makes me a traveler!
When I travel, I don’t think about dates, or about days. I don’t care when I leave, or when I arrive. All that matters to me are the places I am visiting, people I will meet, and the many unforgettable experiences waiting for me, on the other side of the journey. The joy of slow travel – as travellers call it, is best experienced when you treat the entire world as your little backyard and enjoy it with all the time in the world.
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been. Travelers don’t know where they’re going” Paul Theroux
Beyond any measures, and of all the biggest reasons, this is why I quit my job to travel at first place. I wanted myself not to be bound and helplessly restricted, under a time frame. I remember, the first time I left home for my first ever grand adventures – a one month backpacking in Bhutan – I remained excited, right from the day one, to the last. Whereas other people I met on the road, who were bound with a return ticket, they came and they left, after 2-3 days of little excursions, with a few hours of sightseeing, and a couple of half-baked conversations. They never appreciated the joy of travelling and experienced how it feels to greet the locals and sit next to them for a cup of tea, or just being alone, or with your friends, and watch the day pass, minute by minute.
It is only the idea of slow travelling, which has led discover a different side of Varkala or familiarized me with the dying land of Yogis, among many other soul-searching experiences, from many journeys. So plan a long break, fake a medical leave, or submit long and confusing excuses. Do whatever it takes, but once in your life, at least, go to a place where you can abandon any ideas of technology, throw away your gadgets, forget about the life back home, and just… TRAVEL !!!
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