Be a traveler, not a tourist. That’s the latest fad, I hear. Of course, like many other things touted as part of the contemporary lifestyle, this travel bug is also mostly limited to the urban middle- and upper-middle classes. [Aside: These are mostly sections of media-fed, westernised, modernised India and strangely most of our popular culture is built on the idea of mass-selling their lifestyle choices, because rest of the India perhaps has no ‘lifestyle,’ only life!]
Everybody and everybody’s cousin is a traveler now, whatever that means. With lots of pictures too in case there is a need to verify and validate that ‘traveler’ credential. Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, and many other virtual platforms are full of such ‘travel’ photographs – exotic locales, adventure sports, fun moments, cross-cultural encounters, and what not.
I won’t deny that as and when I can afford I also enjoy visiting new places or experiencing what those places have to offer. Though in the last few years most of my travels have been of the nature of pilgrimage, that timeless Indian tradition of tirtha-yatra, the travel that is meant to help us find a truer home.
During the last few years I have also come to realise that regardless of whether one travels to a faraway place for a fortnight or spends a quiet weekend in a nearby eco-village or visits a big city for a few days, what makes any travel more than an ‘escape’ from the mundane, more than a ‘change’ from the daily routine is not what happens during the holiday, but after.
What makes any travel more than a touristy experience is what we bring back from the experience. And I am not speaking of the tangible goodies collected via mall-hopping or visiting the homes of rural artisans or seashell-gathering at exotic beaches. I am speaking of the intangible silences we manage to bring back, silences that refuse to be expressed through any travelogues.
The essence of the travel experience is perhaps not to be found in the several places of interest one visits or the fun activities one manages to do during the holiday, but in the quiet imprint that one continues to carry within long after the travel is completed. It is generally felt much later, perhaps after all the excitement of holidaying, all the noise of the newness is over.
This essence is a subtle thing, quite subtle. Perhaps like that feeling of silence which we could manage for a few exceptional moments, silence that allowed us in those moments to listen, really listen to what those places, sights, people, experiences were telling us.
Those silences were transitory and momentary. Like all silences are. But their memories can be relived. In fact, they must be relived if we are to not just be a traveler of the worlds outside, but also of the worlds inside. If we are to not only remain in movement, but also learn the wisdom of being still. If we are to not only remain wanderers, but also grow in the wisdom of being rooted.
So will you join me today as I try to re-live and re-hear some of the silences I experienced during one particular travel last year?
I. STAY GROUNDED.
II. BE ROOTED IN THE HEART.
III. BE STILL. BE STRONG.
IV. SEEK WISDOM IN STILLNESS.
V. BECOME HOLLOW AND GROW.
To view more posts in the series, When a Picture Leads, click HERE.
To read more Personal Reflections on the blog, click HERE.
To enjoy more Inner Views, click HERE.
Linking with ABC Wednesday, T: T is for Travel