Before traveling unknowingly became a part of life, I was stuck in a 4 ft x 4 ft cubicle designing houses and bungalows for rich clients. I would listen to the client’s brief where they would ask for something in their homes that they had seen on a holiday to exotic places.
While I was trying to make a decent living being an interior designer the whole day, I was missing out on so many experiences. My day began at six in morning when I would finish house chores before I left for my office at eight. I would return home at eight in the evening having navigated through the crawling traffic and carbon fumes. I often suffered from migraine and was always exhausted. The remaining part of the evening would go in preparing for the next morning and all of sudden the day would end. It left me no time to think about even the simple pleasures of a carefree life.
That made me yearn for freedom… And that became a travel inspiration.
Traveling opened up so many avenues. My eyes saw new sights, my mind absorbed newer experiences, my senses tingled with new-found smells and tastes, newer people crossed my path and my heart soared with newer joys!
Indeed the World is made of mysteries, marvelous moments, mortals. What was there to not say yes to the World?
There are discoveries and then there are mysteries…. both are the essence of travel.
They say you discover yourself on a journey; your peeves and stressors, joys and mood elevators, ability to think on feet and tackle challenges or simply how cool-headed you are!
But that is not only what you discover. When you say yes to open yourself up to the world, you travel and it is travel that makes you discover a little rivulet gurgling away in a thicket unnoticed, for you to sit with feet dipping in the cold water feeling exhilarated or a little doorway in a small hilly town like Kodaikanal with a variety of locally produced cheese to binge on or a kaccha rasta through the rice fields of Tamilnadu that leads to a small cottage making hand-made Athanagudi tiles or a home-restaurant with authentic Italian food right on Havelock beach or a temple in Mount Abu that looks like a plain building but is a store house of exquisite marble carving. You discover birds and animals, flowers and trees, myths and facts of various regions and even festive rituals.
But then saying yes to the world leaves you awed at some mysteries too.
Kuldhara, is one such mystery; unsolved, intriguing and frozen in time. Even a quick glance gives the glimpse of a well planned town with wide streets, temple square, huts with separate areas for cattle, a courtyard to gather. It tells of a town that must have been prosperous and yet everything seems desolate, broken, haunted and cursed.
85 villages of Kuldhara disappeared overnight to prevent an evil general of king’s army from troubling a young maiden, with all material possessions left as is in the village. The general’s men searched high and low but could not trace a single villager.
And till date the mystery remains….
Travel to Washington DC and another mystery leaves you searching for answers. Gazing at the paintings in rotunda at the Capitol mesmerizes you and when the guide poses a question to you that whether you can make out an image of a face hidden on a tree in the painting, you await with a bated breath for the mystery to unfold…
The frieze of rotunda at the Capitol has paintings by Constantino Brumidi. He however died before completing the paintings. Another artist Fillippo Constaggini, was then entrusted with the completion of the painting of frieze. It was a common practice among artists to hide their own portraits within the painting which could be deciphered only by art critics with the aid of binoculars.
The art critics however are divided on the opinion whether Fillippo hid his portrait in the painting or not. And speculations still carry on…
And then again you wonder whether it was an ingenious engineering-acoustic technique that was integrated in the architecture of Golconda fort at Hyderabad or the whispering corridors were random product of arch construction? It is said that the king could hear everything in his bedroom whatever was murmured in the arched corridors. Talk about walls having ears!
Jhoolti Minar (Shaking Minarets) at Sidi Bashir Mosque in Ahmedabad is another enigma. It leaves you puzzled… why does one minaret if slightly pushed causes similar vibrations in the other minaret? Even after so much progress in science why does such a technique still evade the contemporary builders? What was the purpose of constructing two shaking minarets? Was it a flaw or a well thought out design?
The stones everywhere lie mute hiding their secrets within….
But mysteries would not amaze you if your mind is not open to explore the world.
Not that there are no beautiful moments when you are confined to a routine or a place or a job, it’s just that there are more such moments which elate, scare, astonish or exasperate you when you go out in this wide wicked world. Those moments become the most cherished memories which time and again let you relive the exact same feeling.
Peeping down the edge of a cliff at Grand Canyon in USA was daunting. A slight dis-balance would plunge you more than 6000 feet down the rock. A helicopter ride however in the same gorge introduces you to an exhilarating adventure. Hovering above the wide and deep expanse of the canyon literally seems like being on top of the world. Your heart syncs in with the rat-a-tat of the rotating chopper blades. It dives and soars with the metal bird enveloping you and you notice the various layers of the rock formation, the wide muddy mighty River Colorado snaking below you and you feel powerful.
While you remember the moment for the flutter that helicopter ride creates, a ride on board heritage train at Ooty gives you a glimpse of slow travel in idyllic surroundings. You chug along in the toy train which labors up the steepest slope in Asia, reiterating itself as an engineering marvel. You soak in the green scenery rolling by and hug yourself tighter in nippy breeze, you smile in the excited chatter of the kids on board and your wrist watch seems to have gone in a sleep mode.
The fresh air stays with you long after the journey is over and you reminisce and revel in the moment that once was…
Snorkeling in Andaman Island may become a life changing moment. When you gaze down through the clear water floating along the waves, an amazingly beautiful and colorful world hidden from the normal eye unfurls in the depths of ocean. It makes you feel grateful to have all your senses intact…yet it makes you feel so inadequate because you can never compete with nature in creating something so unique.
A life in sole company of yourselves will never be fruitful. You have to meet people to interact, grow and learn. It is only when you meet people, that the world opens up for you. Travel is what brings you to diverse cultures and people. The sight of another human in wilderness assures you, the smile of an innocent child wins you over….for a moment you forget the worries when you meet smiling people from world over.
A little girl’s unadulterated, uninhibited grin seems infectious and you grin back…an old woman’s shy smile indulges you with simplicity and proves to you that rich does not mean happy always…a toddler’s joy makes you wish you were a kid again…
And your mind opens up…
Joy that such moments, mysteries, discoveries and mortals bring is incomparable to anything that money can buy.
I owe much happiness and knowledge to the world I have inherited, inhabited, traveled to and the world which still remains unexplored.
I chose to Love the World because its not the world that is imperfect…it is the human being who has divided the world with borders, destroyed its beauty, spread havoc and hatred and differentiated each other into have and have-not’s.