Day 078 – Traveling without moving

2008/11/21 § Leave a comment

Quite entertainingly people I met, frequently revealed some type of theory to me of what the right way of traveling is. In the process I got rather tiered of hearing phrases like “if you have not been there you have not been to x,y,z” and “I went there to see the real x,y,z”. As if there was some essence of a country you could suck up somewhere while it would go amiss in other places. Often these ideas are interwoven with the impression that it is possible and necessary to try to blend in with the local population in some intimate fashion and that this is more possible in some places than in others.

The reason it is especially silly to think this way is that as a tourist in exotic countries you stick out like a nuclear mushroom cloud in the Nevada dessert, no matter where you go or what you do.

Now it is understandable that one would try to blend in and get a genuine impression of a place´s culture and qualities. Nevertheless, the means for doing so are very limited indeed. And unless one is prepared to go to extreme lengths most activities a tourist can indulge in are designed to be an act rather than a natural reflection of what is going on somewhere.

Saying that, there are of course different ways of traveling. Personally I have been less occupied by the question how I manage to be a tourist without feeling like one (I am fine with being what I am for the most part) but rather what emotional qualities the different ways of traveling have to offer.

Especially India is a great place for observation of the species Homo Travelensis. As Ajax put it, a guy from Mexico I talked to, “the hippies go to meditation class in the morning, visit Yoga class in the afternoon, go to a meeting with the Dalai Lama in the evening and then chase away a beggar yelling and swearing at him- it is illogical”. I can agree with that. But this type of traveler seems to need the feeling of being in a spiritual India that has maybe never existed, but certainly does not exist in 2008. Unless you live in a hash and XTC induced d illusion.

Another popular way of traveling is the power-traveler type who will manage to see 15 major sights in places with at least 6000 km between them in ten days. This type basically needs a picture of himself in front of every temple, river, bridge and tree that has any even remote meaning in Indian history. This type is not compatible with the hippie traveler- at all. Hardly compatible with any traveler at all really because of the naturally stressful and restricted schedule the traveler has to follow.

Taj Mahal, AgraAnd then there is me, I guess. I do not know what my goal here is. I am not keen on getting too close to the spiritual culture and I need not see all of India´s sights either. But I have noticed that it took me a while to get into that mood of mellow and sweet indifference. The real “chill” while traveling seems to come at around two months for me. And yet, it naturally is in a constant flow. With every country putting new demands on your ability to balance curiosity, fun and entertainment with health, safety and budget. So we will see what if anything will throw me off that balance. Though if India doesn´t do it, what could? 😉

So the remaining question is: why do we travel? Seemingly the reasons vary a lot, but maybe it boils down to the same core of things. It seems to me every traveler searches for something, though the objects vary. And every traveler seems to run away from something. Some search for themselves, or a rescue from themselves, some search for a thrill, other for the absence of thrills and so forth.

However, I do believe that you can get into the “zone” of traveling. And in my mind that is when you travel without traveling. When you are on the road and forgot why that is. When you are taking a step at a time as you naturally do living, just because… Basically then life and traveling is the same thing. And maybe, just maybe, it always is anyway. In a way all of us are travelers then, some just without moving.


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