Travel for the experience

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Last week I overheard a conversation between two of my neighbors as they were talking about travel and since anything related to travel will catch my attention and activate all my 5 senses I could not help but hear them. One of them was animatedly explaining to the other about how they had recently gone on a holiday to Europe on a package tour that sounded something like ” Magnificent Europe in 10 days ” and how it was the most “amazing experience” in their lives.I was shell shocked and could not understand how someone can cover even 2 places in 10days in Europe and here I was listening to a lady describing her travel to Europe in which she covered some 5 odd places… No offense meant but as I am writing this post I am yet to recover from the shock.

How I wish I were like that, then I would have easily managed to cover the whole world in about a years time and would not have to fight for leaves at work. For me traveling does not mean packing bags and going off to a destination and ticking off all the places in the tourist circuit, in fact I might sound rude but I truly despise the concept of packaged tours. I believe that they just help you in having conversations with people and do not serve any purpose beyond that. Traveling is about experiencing the place, walking through the streets, soaking in the smells and savoring the local food (even if that means visiting the bathroom very often for reasons best known to hardcore travelers).

To be very honest travel has been my passion and I have spent a major part of my life dreaming of exotic destinations and imagining the inhabitants and their lives in those places. In fact, my biggest fear is that one day I will grow so old and feeble that the only travel I’ll be able to accomplish successfully will be to the restroom. The very thought of not being able to travel sends an icy shiver down my spine. I begin to feel claustrophobic and then immediately start planning the next vacation. I have this innate ability to transport myself to any place that is being talked about and can spend hours thinking of the moments I’ll spend there. The only thing that drives me and serves as a chief motivator is the fact that someday, I will be able to visit the whole world. And maybe campaign for world peace while I’m at it.

Lonely Planet is my friend, philosopher and guide. After diamonds, this priceless guide is my best friend and has seen me through countless delicious daydreams.   My family has declared that I have wanderlust and that sometimes I attach too much importance to travel. Given the amount of importance I give to travel and vacations, I make sure I research the travel destinations thoroughly. One such experience was visiting Bhutan which was an eye opener. My apprehensions and misgivings evaporated as I breathed in the pure mountain air and conversed with the serene Bhutanese folks.The entire concept in which this country runs is very strange. The Gross National Happiness is more important than the Gross National Product.

Every day was a novel experience and with every passing moment, my wonderment for the country increased. Looking at the simple country folk going about their work with a song in their heart and a smile on their lips, surviving harsh and unpredictable weather conditions; happiness took on an entirely new meaning for me.It’s not material possessions or a super fat bank balance, but what we make out of our existence that will make us happy!!!

I’m passionate about travel because it affords me the opportunity of seeing the world in all its glory as well as all its shame. It’s during my numerous trips that I have seen and met strange and weird people and have been a part of some wondrous and wonderful moments. Some trips have been revelations; they have made me much more thankful to God for not putting me in some of the more unsavory places. Some trips, like the Bhutan trip, have left an everlasting image of happy and smiling people who’ve taught me life’s lessons in the power of simplicity, happiness and love.

Henry Miller truly summed it up in one line when he said that ““One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

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