Travel, much like reading, has always been more than just an escape. It’s my imagination craving for all that I have read over the years through literatures of various geographies and genres. To actually smell those smells and see those sights that have canvased their way across my mindscape – is what I have always wanted. For many, travel is spiritual and meditative in experience. I guess I am one of them.
It’s one of the best ways of decentralizing yourself and webbing out in different directions in the universe which is big, round and ripe for exploration. I have a comical visual of me giving the earth a big bear hug, the whole blue-green-brown globe of a deal, with an even bigger satiated smile on my face. I want to slowly and steadily conquer it all, and yet not own it.
I imagine the satisfying moments to be like those white, fluffy, opaque clouds you often get lost looking at when staring out from the oval-shaped windows of a plane. Those clouds are dreamy, shape-shifting, and are really what you define them to be. You will never be able to catch them but they will always be around you on the best of your days.
Nothing can make travel come alive like stories can. They can be a figment of someone’s rich roguish imagination or they can take root from hardcore lived and breathed experiences. You shall never be the same person again after you visit a new town, city, country or continent. The place will leave its indelible yet invisible mark on you.
The accidental brush against someone in the teeming crowds outside a railway station and that inexplicable exchange of looks, the seductive whiff of a perfume well-worn on a woman who rushes by you to hail a cab, the exciting yet unnerving confusion of a new language that can lead you down wrong winding paths, the titillating aroma that arises from the earthen pots in a market somewhere nearby and engulfs you in a cloud of hunger, or the sudden clarity of depth you see in the changing colors of the ocean, or perhaps those myriad sunsets you chase around the world because you are quite jet lagged to chase the sunrises. Each of those moments is a thousand leagues of exploration within yourself.
What if that man who just brushed past me outside the railway station could answer those soul-searching questions that always haunted me at night, and I could suddenly realize that God was there at every corner? You just had to follow your instinct and pause at the right one. What if that woman who brushed past you and stopped you in your tracks with the smell of that arresting perfume was the one that could have held your hand and steadied you in life? What if I let someone earn an extra buck or two by leading me down the wrong alleys in a country where the language was foreign to me? Once the safety aspect was taken care of (because life ain’t all peachy and sunshiny just because we are writing about it) those alleys could be the gateways to adventures that could regale me in my old age. When discovering a new city, it has to be done on foot. And when we tired foot soldiers conquering foreign lands need some good chicken soup for the soul at the end of the day…biting into freshly fished-out shrimps or delicately set crème brulees or simple warm buttered bread with wine can often be the balm to many a tired heart.
And then there are the oceans, mountains, and the sun. In definition and structure they may not vary much across the world, but each river, sea, and hillside has a story and character of its own. If only you are patient long enough, you will hear them whispered to you soon enough.