Miles to Go
During the final year of my high school, I came across the poem ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ by Robert Frost, where the poet concludes with his desire to go on with his travel despite the beautiful view of snowfall in the woods. The words from this poem rhyme in my ears every time I hear the word ‘travel’ motivating me to go on newer adventures. And whenever I start on a journey to a new destination, my excitement knows no bounds, the deep desire to discover something new, something different each time. Several years have passed since I started my first travel without my family. I have traveled both alone and along with my friends, both of which have a different experience to tell. Traveling alone gives you the total liberty to get lost in some streets. It gives you the freedom to take the same street repeatedly. You can also visit whatever place you want. Though it may seem adventurous, it may turn boring, especially because you don’t have someone to share your experiences with. On the other hand, traveling in a group, especially with friends, is fun. But it requires a lot of planning since you need to take into account the preferences of everyone.
My travel escapades took me to different villages, towns, and cities, from historical ones to the newly built ones, from highly populated to almost desolate ones. I do not prefer crowded cities, especially when you can discover several interesting corners in smaller towns and cities. Cities worldwide seem to me more or less the same, with their cuboidal concrete blocks. I am sure that I share this same sentiment with many people around the world. Cities are becoming increasingly homogenized. You can find the same marks and brands everywhere. It is becoming less common to find something unique to one particular city, a unique experience characteristic of a particular city. Some cities have understood this sentiment and have now built new landmarks to give themselves a unique identity. Historical past, usually their historical monuments, define many cities nowadays.
History attracts me a lot. Most of the time, I find myself standing in the ancient ruins, trying to listen to the story that they wish to tell me. Those broken walls, ceilings, and shattered stones narrate several untold and imaginary stories to the visitors. The serenity of empty historical monuments in faraway towns and villages transcends oneself to some unknown past.
In some of these historical places, we come across the cobbled stones. Cobbled stones are now becoming part of the historical zones worldwide; it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the recently added cobbled stones versus the historical ones. Yet walking over them makes me time-travel in the historical past. Relive the past would mean imagine the people during the period, their food, dresses, festivals, professions and languages, the sounds in the houses and the streets, etc.
Some of these imaginations might not be true unless backed by historical documents often found only in the museums. Take, for example, the costumes worn by the people during different periods in history. Old photographs and old paintings may give us an idea. One may wonder about the fashion trends at different periods of time. Hence I love visiting museums narrating (or trying to narrate) the historical past using human artifacts, broken pots, ruins, etc.
My travels have also given me opportunities to explore nature. During the past several years, I have been through several valleys, mountains, peaks, ridges, waterfalls, water bodies of different sizes, seas, oceans, deserts, etc. Though I would not call myself a professional trekker, I have also made some occasional trekking.
What is travel without talking about food? As my mother says about me, ‘I don’t worry about you because you can easily adjust to the food.’ I love tasting different cuisines. And during my travels, I have tasted different varieties of spices, preparations with vegetables and fruits, cheese, wine, beers, etc.
My favorite part during the travels is walking around the historic part of the cities. I love losing the way, sometimes multiple times. Often, I came across surprises. In the midst of the homogeneous buildings, those concrete cuboidal structures, I have found some colors. Those colors expressed through street arts and graffiti give some unique identity to the houses and streets. One may feel that these artworks want to narrate a different story of the city, the story of people inside those cuboidal structures.
Another interesting part that I found during my travels is the diversity in cities, especially linguistic diversity. It is quite interesting to hear the announcements made in several languages at a particular metro, train, or bus station. During several of my train trips, I have come across announcements made in more than one language. Mostly, we relate cities with their buildings and monuments, and we often forget about the local languages. It is hard to learn a new language in a few months, and mastering a language takes years for some of us. Yet, languages play an important role in communication. I love to wish and thank people in their native language, and the returning smiles and the responses sometimes show their happiness.
Traveling sometimes takes months of planning, especially for long travels. I disapprove of the idea of a completely planned travel, where every minute has been planned months before. The surprises in travel and getting lost while walking around are a few important aspects that I love about traveling. There is a lot to explore across the world, yet the questions related to ecological travel are of great importance. Though I have been very cautious about my carbon footprint, I still feel that there is still a lot of scope for improvement.
Originally published at https://johnsamuel.info.