“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness” – Mark Twain
Well, travelling does expose you to vast experiences and opens your third eye for seeing more that what is normally visible. In fact to say that travel changes you is a highly understatement. Often, long-term or frequent travelling sprees impact your life and thinking in a profound manner. However, it is up to you to be open-minded enough to absorb and grow from those experiences.
Here are some jewels of wisdom that I picked up while travelling length and breadth of India…
1. UNUSUAL IS INTERESTING AND ENRICHING
Well, if you have chosen an offbeat path in life, it does not mean you will not reach anywhere. In fact, you too might reach a beautiful destination.
While travelling from Rann of Kutch to Bhuj in Gujarat, we decided to take a different route rather than the usual and shorter one i.e., Bhuj via Lakhpat Fort located on the mouth of the Kori creek. In a hope to bask in the glory of one of the prominent forts of Gujarat, we began our journey. However, it seemed that that day, sun was too humble and was generously showering his rays more than the usual. Finally after travelling five-six hours, we reached the destination but found the fort (guarded by walls on all sides) in a dilapidated condition and almost standing alone in the barren surroundings. However, I don’t know what occurred to me and I climbed one of the walls of the fort and what I saw just left me speechless. Guarded by Indian Border Security Force (BSF), the seaward side of the fort looked into a salt marsh land which was not far away from the international border between India and Pakistan. The sight was breath-taking indeed!
2. LET UNPLANNED ACTIVITIES HAPPEN IN YOUR PLAN
Even if you plan meticulously in life, unforeseen circumstances can alter your plans. So, you need to learn to not crib and find other interesting things.
Last winters, we decided to travel to a small hamlet known as Kanatal near Mussorie in Uttarakhand in lower Himalayas. It was an offbeat destination in off-peak months. On reaching there, what we experienced was an unusual freezing cold weather due to melting snow (since, snow absorbs most of the heat from the environment to melt, the temperature decreases drastically that time). Due to this excessive cold weather, most of the places to visit were closed and there was limited supply of food too. The rooms of the hotel were also not tidy and above all, there was no heater in the rooms. After mourning for about an hour, I decided to let it go and took out my GPS-enabled phone, explored the nearest spots and decided to book a cab. Well, to my utmost pleasure there were no taxis available and all what was there was a part-time taxi driver and his Maruti 800 car. Yes, you heard it right! In those curvy, deadly sleek and slippery roads during melting snow time in dense forest of lower Himalayas, we had the option of Maruti 800 car to climb the hills and go to Devprayag and the travel (back and fro) was of nearly 6-7 hours. We decided to go on this unusual excursion and it turned out to be the best day of my trip. While, we were the only one to travel on the densely forested route and this scared the hell out of me especially after the sunset, nonetheless it was a treat to see various flora and fauna around. On top of one hill was cactus culture and on bottom was a mango forest. On the right side hill, there was a Chir Pines forest and on the left side was a barren hill. So, when plans go wrong be prepared to unplan..
3. RESPECT THE LAWS OF THE LAND
Just like travelling in extreme temperatures and hostile surroundings and on risky path, requires one to obey the laws of nature, success requires you to follow a path of truth, integrity and humanity. My travel in Ladakh taught me this lesson.
Nature can be beautiful and brutal at the same time. While on the route back to Leh from KhardungLa Pass (at around 5.p.m.), suddenly a huge boulder from the snow-capped hill on the right side came rolling down in front of our vehicle. I only remember, our driver pressed the brake hard and the vehicle jolted before we became numb. We were lucky to escape death by an inch. Later our driver told that yesterday a family died at the spot under same circumstances and that is why, we always tell people to not travel in the evening. Well accepted! Heeding to expert advice (in this case our driver) and respecting the laws of the land is necessary.
4. TRUST PEOPLE THROUGH YOUR INSTINCTS
Agreed some people are selfish, cruel and unfriendly but that does not mean you lose faith in mankind.
When we went to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan nearly a decade back, we decided to spend a night in the desert camp. That night, there were no other tourists and only one tent (which was of my family) out of the four was occupied. We were terribly scared and had almost decided to go back to Jaisalmer (although it was risky too in the night but it was better than staying all alone in the desert with wild animals making weird noises and loitering around our tents). However, a tall man in his 30s with thick moustache and having a mole on the right of his cheek who introduced himself as our caretaker came with a very cheerful expression on face, affection in eyes and sincerity in words, “Don’t worry, I am here.” I don’t know for what reason, we decided to trust that stranger and slept peacefully.
5. ENJOY THE JOURNEY ALONG THE DESTINATION
In life, it is always important to find the right balance, discovering the mind-set that allows you to pursue your goal without sacrificing the little things that make life worth living.
While on a trip to Matheran from Pune in Maharashtra, instead of having a formal and structured travel to the destination in shortest possible time, we kept the journey completely unplanned to enjoy the odds. Instead of hiring a train from Pune to Karjat and then a taxi to reach Matheran, we made a cocktail of a highly crowded local bus, a dilapidated auto and an Omni Van to reach the destination. Well, Matheran did give me one story but the travel with the ever-interesting locals gave me at least five more stories to narrate.
There are many more lessons learnt and placed travelled.
To conclude by the famous Arab proverb, “Who lives sees much. Who travels sees more.” So experience life, learn new lessons and unfold your own myth of life rather than being satisfied with the stories that are narrated by the world around you?
Pics courtesy: ©Avani Jain Godavat