Arun Basil Lal’s travel philosophy on why he spends weeks in a location than visit every popular spot that the destination has to offer got me thinking about unique travel styles we all have. He rightly quotes –
Travel as slow as possible
This is something I completely agree with. I remember listening to one of the speakers at BarcampBangalore10 who shipped his cycle to the north east and rode across the country to the west in Gujarat or so. I was completely amazed by his experience which consisted of living with the villagers, being robbed, sharing stories with the locals and eating local cuisines from countless villages. No faster forms of transport gets you a more local experience than that!
Another breed of photo-maniac travelers make it a ritual of collecting destinations photos like this or this. All these slow forms of travel let one explore the destination, its beauty and and its evolution from the past.
My frustrated tourist-y cousin who is visiting Kochi this weekend after almost 5 years and says –
“Dude, Kochi did not and does not have any nightlife, in Bangalore, you will see girls, wearing skirts and walking about in the midnight.”
And I tell her –
“First of all, you are very wrong. We always had and have a very “buzzing” nightlife. And I dare, nay, double dare, all those pretty girls you got in Bangalore to come to Kochi and walk around in short skirts! I bet they will be home before sunset and they will stay indoors.”
For those who are not residents of the city, I have to clarify that I am not talking about moral policing or women safety, but about the humble mosquitoes of the city! My cousin would never know why “mall culture” or “cafe” is so popular in our city or why she do not see people outdoors in the evenings. She would have to stick around for weeks to figure that one out!
Many of my slow traveling buddies prefer exploring a destination and I could not help but compare my own travel philosophy to theirs.
I am a a huge fan of people and I like to watch their diverse nature in their own habitats 🙂 Like, during my ride to Leh in 2011, I noticed that there are no youngsters in the Rangdum village in Leh when we visited in 2011. All of them have migrated to the towns in search of better education and opportunities.
A quick google search will tell you Rangdum is a small village in Suru Valley that lies about 100 KMs away from both Kargil and Zanskar. That means that the next human habitat is 10 hours away (yea, 10 hours for 100 KMs) and you will not find a single human on the way. And there was no electricity (just some solar and fire lamps) and farming is not possible due to the 6-8 ft. of snow that falls between October and June every year.
The village was about 20-30 houses in total and was overlooked by a monastery. Interacting with a person in the village just blew my mind. Guess what he does for a living?
He cuts grass for his cattle for feeding them during the winter. He prepares for the winter during the summer, every year. That’s all that he does. Simple.
Yes, of course, we are doing the same thing in our lives, preparing for the future, but at what cost? Not visiting the parents in months due to deadlines? Navigating the stressful yet pointless office politics? Going abroad and struggling with loneliness for higher pay?
The biggest lesson for me was that life in itself is simple. Complications are optional and just addons you don’t really need. This was again emphasized to me during my solo ride to Goa covering more than 1800KMs in 5 days. Had the chance to meet an auto rickshaw driver who returned from a decently paying job in the Middle East when his daughter was born. He argued, is a life worth living when you cannot see your baby girl grow?
With the wind in my face and some DJ turning my helmet into a dance floor, these experiences combined with a lot of contemplation defines my travel philosophy!
For me, I just like to ride. Do you travel? Look forward to hearing your favorite experience and your travel style!