We travel to learn new ideas, new philosophies, far distinct and much alien to our contemporary beliefs. We travel to chase memories. To grow, before time. And we travel, for much more.
It was 4 in the morning and my alarm clock pulled myself, almost incessantly, and a little unexpectedly, from the sleep. My eyes were swollen, blood shot, as I looked outside my window to find nothing, but a temporary gloom. For a moment, I was almost convinced that it is a ruthless dream, but then I rolled over and saw my rucksack – zippered, and ready to be lifted up, all over again. In exactly one hour from now, I realized, I am catching a train to my next destination.
Often we find ourselves waiting for trains and taxis, in the orange glare of a streetlight – before even getting time to drink a cup of coffee, and no, there is no fun in that. And there is no fun in letting out a sleepy groan either, or in being nervous because your train leaves in an hour. Yet here we are – herded in even greater numbers on the planes and in taxis that stay the same size.
Sometimes we travel because we have to, because we have a meeting to attend or we need to be with our family attending a useless marriage. But most of our travels are not non-negotiable. We chose them because we want to, because the annoyances of the airport, or train stations, often seem outweighed by the thrill of being somewhere else. Because the work is boring and we need a quick escape. Because home is unexciting and so is New Delhi.
Every time I speak to my friends – who find themselves hopelessly strangled in their work (and are not, as they think, fortunate enough to travel unceasingly, like me) they talk about leaving everything behind, and finding abode in the stillness of the nature, discovering a self that my many friends living far-off in Himalayas have never had a chance to lose. It’s a song of homesickness (of different kind) they’re singing about, repeatedly – wishing they could find more room for their destiny than the narrow pathways they’ve been moving since long. And travelling, even though for a short weekend, seems like a perfect (and perhaps the only) way to move away from the miseries.
“So, simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. I would stand upon facts” Henry David Thoreau
And how absolute, how correct they all are. Travel is a basic human desire. We are a migratory species, even if our migrations are controlled by jet fuels and Google maps, we haven’t forgotten the joy we get in travelling, in getting lost. Not to mention the ways travelling makes us better and helps us learn things with a whole new perspective.
Traveling is a constant broadening of horizons incomparable to reading a book or watching a documentary. Once you engage with a foreign culture, whether it is sharing a meal with a local or attending a cultural function, you gain larger perspective on the world outside your head.
A couple of months ago, I had a lucky admittance into the Tribes of Wayanad, in Kerala (Southern India) – where one of my friends was simultaneously working with government for the welfare of local Tribal people. His affection and care for the area and its people was infectious and he had made friends with indigenous members of the community, giving me an exclusive look at their culture and the way they lived, unseen by most. My experiences with the place and the people that lived there gave me a sense of belonging to a foreign land.
While travel, you put yourself into a place where is room for mystery, for juxtaposition, for adjustment and repositioning of beliefs
That’s exactly why travel is so vital. It gives you a newfound sensitivity into the lives of other people. It makes us walking broadcasters and living newspapers, the only channels who know this world and that town – who have studied them all, in their own beautiful and distinct way. When you visit a place, much different than yours (or even if not so different), you get a new perspective, a fresh outlook on things you’ve taken for granted for too long.
I know every time I travel, I find myself turning more and more romantic and sucrose to this world and all the people in it. And that’s what all matters. That’s what all matters!
[Inspired enough? Also read: What One Year Of Uninterrupted Travel Has Taught Me]
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