I wonder what it is about travel that everyone loves to do it. At least most of the people do. It’s like music in a way, I have never heard anyone dislike music. To think about the genesis of the concept of travel, I think it started with explorers and sailors who set to find new lands and spoils for their countries. Then our national leaders went to study or work abroad and came back with much learning about governance of a country. Over the years, we have realized how, despite being of the same race, culture, topography, history and development affects how people’s lives everywhere. Many start-ups like Ola and Zostel were born by adopting concepts from abroad. Likewise, Yoga went to western countries from India, giving them such a healthy way of life. It beautiful how different countries are basically different worlds and we can learn from one another.
But what if you are not an aspiring politician or entrepreneur? What about normal people like you and me?
Travelling helps you meet new people. The degree of newness is, a lot of times, directly proportional to how far you are travelling from home. What is the big deal about meeting new people? One, you pick up progressive thoughts, like when I first travelled to Europe, I found so many girls studying in cities away from home, working and traveling alone. I was exposed to this innate sense of equality there, one which you don’t fight for but just exists. Two, it is simply interesting to know how people in other places live and think. Three, different or not, you might have a great time partying or even make friends for life.
Adventures- on my first ever trip abroad there was just one sermon my parents gave me- take utmost care of your passport. And alas, my passport was stolen in Italy! To survive in this situation, make quick decisions and talk to strangers with a different language altogether and safely make my way back home was a feat in itself. It gave me some confidence that I can handle difficult situations.
Culture- Travel helps you understand what way of life people have in other countries. It helps open your mind to possibilities instead of blindly accepting things the way they are. For instance, I found people in France have a leisurely lunch. Markets would be shut in La Rochelle from 12 pm to 3 pm. This was frustrating to me coming from a country where working 6 days a week isn’t unheard of! But I found this work-life balance very beautiful. I realized that it is important for me too. And no matter how much my work environment forces on me, I will strive to find peace in my day and life. Another beautiful experience was one in a quaint town of Mukhteshwar in Uttrakhand. I had landed in the town in early evening and I found each and every person of the town outside, chatting with neighbours or playing with friends. It was beautiful how egos were dissolved, far away from the rat-race of cities, here were a bunch of people who were blessed with the culture of togetherness and happiness.
Food, yum. What more can you do with rice I always thought. There can be Dal, Kadi, Pulav what else? I was mind-blown when I tasted a Kumaoni rice dish (unfortunately I cannot recall its name) and realized that there are so many combinations possible with the same set of ingredients. I live to eat so, food is a great source of delight to me.
Busting myths, there is some inexplicable pleasure in finding that all the stereotypes you had are not true. I always had the image that children in western countries were not much connected with their parents. But on a weekend, I found the educational hub of Strasbourg practically deserted and a local told me that most students visit their family over weekends in the area, I was a little embarrassed at the typecast in my mind. It has made me hesitant to having stereotypes about cultures. While I agree that there can be specific trends in a culture; I feel I should try to witness it firsthand before accepting it.
Adventure, even years after, jumping out of a plane for sky-diving remains my claim to proving I am a brave person. So many beautiful locations which are popular for adrenaline driving adventure sports exist around the world. It is an experience to have.
The natural beauty, it amazes me how happy I feel when I see greenery. If not anything to stimulate your mind in the above ways, travel will help you calm your mind and give you happiness in being close to nature. Also, nature is such madness, it will show you freaky northern lights, hot water springs in freezing cold climate or gigantic mountains which will make you realize that you and your problems are just too small to worry about. To remind you to just enjoy yourself.
Art & architecture- while we are on the topic of beauty, let’s take a minute to remember the beautiful things we have built as humans. To see the breathtaking Mysore palace is a privilege, forget about living in it. A place where every nook and corner has been crafted with utmost detail. It makes me believe that no matter how much we exemplify science, life is nothing without art! It is not just the beauty but the message behind it as well. When you stand in front of the Colosseum, it is not about just about the building but what it means in history. That was the place where hundreds were killed for pleasure in a time when it was thought to be acceptable to do that. Travelling is the joy of seeing and feeling.
Connect with friends & family- how much time can you take out for your loved ones in your routine? Even if you do, are you sure you aren’t thinking about sleeping early and waking up early the next day for office? Here comes in the concept of quality of time. I find travelling together just moves you and your family to a different context. There is time to crack situational jokes, time to fast forward and discuss future and rewind and discuss the past. While, in day-to-day we find ourselves simply talking about the day and tomorrow. This is a chance to connect on a deeper level.
You don’t know how travel will affect you. It might in the way his motorcycle expedition changed the life of Ernesto Guevara.
Of course this blog is a lot about travel. And of course, it is about the mecca of wanderlust, Europe. Stay tuned for more. 🙂