Since the dawn of life, humans have been fascinated by the urge to travel. The thirst for experiencing new lands and the fresh insights it provides is recompense enough for the time and trouble taken on such endeavours. In a great measure such journeys do enrich lives. All journeys are born in the mind. From that seed sprouts a travel through space, time and cultures. The pleasant thrill that springs from voyaging enthralls the self. The physical aspect of travel is mired in the present, but the mind shatters and transcends the barrier of time. Then comes that urge to capture in words the variegated experiences and emotions. The verbal imagination thus aroused can take any form - intensely impressionistic, fictionalised, or intensely personal. Somehow for me, a place is a territory that is pregnant with the promise of exploration and a treasure trove of knowledge. Thus it yields its riches, whether of historic resonance or artistic flavour, or redolent of myths and legends, or the simple tales of ordinary people. The untravelled life is not worth living.
Each travel is different. The Alps are not the Himalayas and neither is the Danube, the Ganga. Still, each place in its diversity is a lode of information. The people there, rooted in that soil, are more knowledgeable about their tradition and myths than us, however erudite we may claim to be. This is a banality that bears recounting for most people miss this elementary truth. Conversing with the people of a region is better than relying on Lonely Planet or information gleaned from other sources. The traveler must constantly remember that each individual has something of interest to share. Partaking of their ethnic food, getting to know their customs and beliefs, lends passion to writing.
The company one chooses on travels also has an intricate charm. On my travels, both in India and abroad, I have a band of regulars, including friends, colleagues, and immediate family, that make for a merry gang. The intimacy that develops over days of close-knit contact binds us forever in each others' memories. The final moment of parting when each wends one’s own way is a momentary occasion of sweet sorrow. But more abiding by far is the richness of a shared relationship crafted by the journey. The different perspectives thus generated lend flavour to my understanding. Starting out as individuals we meld into a community by journey’s end. This sense of a shared community is a temporary defense against individual nature of our fated exit. As the sublime Basho calls attention by contrast to the itinerant nature of our tenure on Vasundhara
: 'Days and months are the travellers of eternity.' The journey never ends...