The snow-clad mountains, the misty verdant mountains, the roaring blue-green oceans and soft sandy beaches, the gurgling streams, the deep mysterious forests, the arid stretches of deserts with shimmering sands, the ancient ruins, the temples, forts, cave dwellings, the palaces, monuments and memorials….the wonderous, scenic, cultural, historical and architectural heritage of the world is but fodder for a travel enthusiast and writer.
When I travel to the mountains, I love to breathe in the unadulterated fresh air and never want to leave….On beaches I return to my childhood gleefully picking up every colorful patterned shell and every smooth pebble…I loose the sense of time when I sit in the idyllic settings of those deep forests with my feet dangling into the clean gurgling rivulet…I imagine the royal maids pampering me as I walk down the ruins of palaces and forts….
However the only news that drums away on sense and sensibilities, these days, are that of destruction, hate attacks, revenge killings, supremacy wars, attacks in name of religion….Terror, like a molten spewing lava of a volcano, is spreading everywhere unleashing anger, frustration and havoc in its wake.
Closer at home, when the valley of Srinagar, Kashmir the ‘Paradise on earth’ should have enchanted the indulgent traveler with the views of towering snow-laden Himalayas…it is more often locked down in chilling grays of fear…when it should have been a riot of colorful tulips…there is a riot, yes, but of stone-pelting uncontrolled crowd…where one would have marveled at the flaming red Chinars…there are flames of unrest….where there should have been gentle lapping sounds of shikara at Dal lake and peaceful calm at Shalimaar Bagh…there are the deafening gun fires, sloganeering and disruptive speeches.
Out there in world, centuries old imposing Bamiyan Buddhas, a symbol of Buddha’s preaching of peace, have turned to dust and what remains is just a laser image of the centuries old heritage, lofty Pyramids are razed to the very ground from where they proudly rose…and there remains the desolate desert. When love should be healing broken hearts…people are gunned down for expressing their sexual inclinations or shot at for their color or killed in name of religion…when the azure waters along the beautiful Promenade should have enthralled many with fireworks sparkling in the sky in happy celebrations….the innocent toddlers and unsuspecting people were trampled under the wheels of a lorry…when airports should have been the symbol of excitement to reach home…guns and bombs made those the place of last journey to heavens above… Munich, Kabul, Nice, Turkey, Srinagar…everywhere the pall of gloom, the shroud of terror…death, pain, hatred!
Actor Aamir Khan invited a lot of ire with his infamous remark of wanting to escape from all the intolerance poisoning the society in the country. But isn’t intolerance rearing its ugly head almost everywhere? No place seems safer….Hatred has clutched man in its strong fangs viciously annihilating the bountiful nature and rich heritage world-wide….
Who knows where the next stray bullet is coming from…..?
So what does a traveler at heart do? Sit at home and feel safe…? Is it but safe there too? Or, spend the rest of the life being scared?
No!! The world, they say, is a book and those who do not travel have read only but a page….
I love to travel and explore new cultures, places, cuisines, people…yes, I do. But for now Mukesh’s song best describes my state…
“Jaaoon kahan bata aye dil, duniya badi sangdil…
Chandani aayi ghar jalaane, sujhe na koi manzil…”