Life is an adventure and we need to realize it. At every step, there is a new story to be written. At every breath, there is a new song to be sung. Nature has immense to offer but one must have the sight to see it. There is a plethora of knowledge and experiences that lay avid around us but we are blinded by our myopia complemented with an excessive fastidiousness. A major key to this dilemma is to travel.
Traveling has indeed become an important part of my lifestyle. For me, it is a seeking for enrichment and spirituality in nature’s belly; it also includes an in-depth interaction with the locals to grasp their colloquial traditions and for exploring their cuisines.
The purpose of this article is primarily to elicit the importance of traveling. Though this is an autobiography yet, it’s a medium to understand the broader framework since I’m just another random guy whom you may have passed by on the streets.
I was just like any other city-bred kid with an insatiable lust and greed for material objects which rose when I shifted from Chennai to Bombay. I was way too meticulous that I was not able to eat from the streets out of fear that it would lead to deadly diseases like cancer. I was also a classist to a huge extent that I considered street urchins to be filthy and refrained from touching them. If I ever did it, by any chance, then I would wash it away with soap. It is a different gamble altogether now as I became attracted to socialism and learned some empathy through traveling. I even was very self-centered that I would always reap away my benefit out of any action and others were mere items of utility.
When my father passed away, I came under the auspices of my uncle who holds an endless desire for traveling. One fine day, he took me along with him to Wayanad, which is a hill station in Kerala, that is famous for its tribal occupants. The purpose was to purchase land to do some farming and to set up a shelter where anybody could come, teach and learn by interacting with the locals. It hadn’t fructified then but the pursuit is still on.
This visit is important for two reasons. Firstly, I realized the importance of farming as most of the vegetables in Kerala come from the neighboring states sprinkled with pesticides. Secondly, I came to know how development is affecting the region as the climate is drastically changed that it is no longer cold during the winters because the hills are being leveled to pave path for the commercial properties. The tribals are the worst hit since they are assimilated into modernity and have lost their indigenous culture. Many often, the men become alcoholics with their exposure to liquor.
Nature Club of Wilson College contributed to my further travels. From my first year to the Third of BA, I have been part of many wonderful treks and camps across India. These trips vitalized me with knowledge of conservation, the problems that come with being anthropocentric and the importance of heritage management. This club has also been institutional in making me realize that the wild can be experienced without being captivated by humanity but in its own natural habitat. One such instance was at Jim Corbett national park where a tiger was sighted in its full glory just a few feet away from my jeep. This experience was both frightening and exhilarating.
A great advantage of traveling, as mentioned before, is being able to interact with various kinds of people. When a few years back, I had visited the Little Rann of Kutch, our guide was enlightening us regarding the plight of the villages in Gujarat as the government’s development schemes were only effectively implemented in the cities.
When in Wayand; it was Jamson, who was the caretaker of the resort that was staying in, who told me about the repercussions faced by the place as a result of commercial development. At times, we even meet the quirky kind; when in Dharamkot, I and my friends came across Alexander who is from France. He graduated in French literature two years back and is currently in pursuit of writing a novel; he is traveling across the globe to seek inspiration. Once, I met Kera who is a professor of British Literature from the US at Bombay. She had come for a guest lecture at the IIT Powai and wanted to explore the place so I acted as her unofficial tour guide after we bumped into each other during a local heritage walk. This way I learned more about my own city through a dialogue with her.
To conclude, this has been a tedious biography but I found no other way of talking about traveling except through my eyes so it is open to criticisms. Being a Philosophy student, I feel traveling would enrich the subject by being exposed to the varied worldviews and if I ever become a professor then I would be able to impart something worthwhile to the students. As one of my dear friends calls me, “The listener”, I do tend to listen carefully to the various points in discussions and contribute only when I feel a need to so as to gain unbiased knowledge also accepting my ignorance regarding many things. And, traveling is the best way to soothe that. I end with Frost’s often repeated line, “Miles to go before I sleep” and with a wish to make more solo trips.
P.s. Kera if you would ever be reading this then I would like you to know that I want to be in contact with you and I cordially invite you again to Bombay.