Why We Travel

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1.7 Why We Travel

We travel https://arsodenglishclasses.com/geography-research-paper/, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our Newspaper will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again-to slow time down and get taken in and fall in love once more. The beauty of this whole process (how we enjoy travelling) was best described, perhaps, before people even took to frequent flying, by George Santayana in his lapidary (important/related) essay, “The Philosophy of Travel.” We “need sometimes,” the Harvard philosopher wrote, “to escape (get free from) into open solitudes (loneliness), into aimlessness (without purpose or direction:), into the moral holiday (going is tough, or could turn tough at any moment/enjoying adventurous holiday) of running some pure hazard (risk), in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled (force) to work desperately (seriously) for a moment at no matter (it is of no importance) what.”

 

Few of us ever forget the connection (difference) between “travel” and “travail,” (painful or laborious effort) Travel in that sense guides us toward a better balance of wisdom and compassion (feeling/expectation) – of seeing the world clearly, and yet feeling it truly. For seeing without feeling can obviously (clearly) be uncaring (not feeling interest in or attaching importance to something); while feeling without seeing can be blind (lacking perception, awareness, or judgement). Yet for me the first great joy of travelling is simply the luxury of leaving all my beliefs and certainties (thoughts of the people) at home, and seeing everything I thought I knew in a different light (way/ A way of presenting or perceiving something such that it appears differently to the way it would appear by an alternative presentation or perception), and from a crooked (out of place) angle.

Though it’s fashionable (representing a current popular style) nowadays to draw a distinction between the “tourist” and the “traveler,” perhaps the real distinction lies between those who leave their assumptions (a thing or thought without proof/information / धरणा) at home, and those who don’t (leave assumptions). Among those who don’t, a tourist is just someone who complains, “Nothing here is the way it is at home,” while a traveler is one who grumbles, “Everything here is the same as it is in Cairo – or Cuzco (कुज्को) or Kathmandu.” It’s all very much the same.

But for the rest of us, the sovereign (sovin/ supreme/ great) freedom of travelling comes from the fact that it whirls (move) you around and turns you upside down, and stands everything you took for granted (to accept without question or objection) on its head. If a diploma can famously be a passport (to a journey through hard realism), a passport can be a diploma (for a crash course in cultural relativism (information). [One can acquire permission (passport) to travel to foreign countries for educational purposes based on her academic achievements (diploma) and travelling to foreign countries enriches one the most regarding the knowledge and wisdom of the world.]

And the first lesson we learn on the road, whether we like it or not, is how provisional (temporary) and provincial (small area) are the things we imagine to be universal (must be given a great importance).

We travel, then, in part just to shake up our complacencies (कम्प्लेसन्सी /आत्मसंतुष्टता/ feeling of quiet pleasure or security) by seeing all the moral and political urgencies (importance), the life-and-death dilemmas (a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives / दुविधा), that we seldom have to face at home. And we travel to fill in the gaps left by tomorrow’s headlines (to get more information which we read in the newspaper). When you drive down the streets of Port-au-Prince (the capital and most populous city of Haiti.), for example, where there is almost no paving (a surface made up of flat stones laid in a pattern) your notions of the Internet and a “one world order” grow usefully revised. Travel is the best way we have of rescuing the humanity of places, and saving them from abstraction शून्यमनस्कता (the quality of dealing with ideas rather than events) and ideology.

 

And in the process, we also get saved from abstraction ourselves, and come to see how much we can bring to the places we visit, and how much we can become a kind of carrier pigeon (a gullible person/ messanger) – an anti-Federal Express (a major American cargo airline), if you like – in transporting back and forth (to and fro/ around) what every culture needs. I find that I always take Michael Jordan (US basketball player) posters to Kyoto(an industrial city in central Japan), and bring woven ikebana (इकेबाना / the art of Japanese flower arrangement) baskets back to California.

But more significantly, we carry values and beliefs and news to the places we go, and in many parts of the world, we become walking video screens and living newspapers, the only channels that can take people out of the censored limits of their homelands. In closed or impoverished इम्पावरिश्ट (गरीब) places, like Pagan(पेगन) or Lhasa (the capital of Tibet) or Havana(the capital of Cuba,), we are the eyes and ears of the people we meet, their only contact with the world outside and, very often, the closest, quite literally, they will ever come to Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton. Not the least of the challenges of travel, therefore, is learning how to import – and export – dreams with tenderness (kindness).

By now all of us have heard (too often) the old Proust प्रोस्ट (French novelist) line about how the real voyage (a long journey involving travel by sea or in space) of discovery consists not in seeing new places but in seeing with new eyes (new vision). Yet one of the subtler (fine/nice) beauties of travel is that it enables you to bring (gives) new eyes to (see) the people you encounter (meet). Thus even as holidays help you appreciate (create importance about /be grateful for) your own home (in your eyes) more- not least by seeing it through a distant admirer’s eyes- they (people) help you bring newly appreciative-distant-eyes (अलग नजरिया) to the places you visit. You can teach (guide) them (people) what they have to celebrate as much as you celebrate what they (people) have to teach. This, I think, is how tourism, which so obviously destroys (नष्ट करणे) cultures, can also resuscitate (resusitet) (reconstruct) or revive them, how it has created new “traditional” dances in Bali, and caused craftsmen in India to pay new attention to their works.

Thus travel spins (turn/ move round ) us round in two ways at once: It shows us the sights and values and issues (problems) that we might ordinarily (normally) ignore; but it also, and more deeply, shows us all the parts of ourselves that might otherwise grow rusty(neglected/ of knowledge or a skill) damaged by lack of recent practice). For in travelling to a truly foreign place, we inevitably (certainly /naturally) travel to moods and states of mind and hidden inward passages (transformation) that we’d otherwise seldom have cause to visit.

On the most basic level, when I’m in Tibet, though not a real Buddhist, I spend days on end in temples, listening to the chants of sutras. (मंत्र /A sutra is a short passage that contains powerful teaching. Think of them as sacred messages from ancient gurus, sages, and teachers of the age.)I go to Iceland (country in the North Atlantic) to visit the lunar spaces (problems/difficulties) within me, and, in the uncanny (strange) quietude (calmness) and emptiness (खालीपन) of that vast and treeless (lifeless) world, to tap (connect) parts of myself generally obscured (hidden/unclear/neglected) by chatter (unimportant matters talk) and routine.

We travel, then, in search of both self and anonymity (गुमनामी) – and, of course, in finding the one we apprehend (understand) the other. Abroad, we are wonderfully free of caste and job and standing ( position, status, or reputation); we are, as Hazlitt (William Hazlitt, British essayist) puts (says) it, just the “gentlemen in the parlour,” (by Somerset Maugham, journey from Burma to Vietnam. ) and people cannot put a name or tag to us. And precisely (exactly) because we are clarified (clear (a statement or situation) not confused) in this way, and freed of inessential labels, we have the opportunity to come into contact with more essential parts of ourselves (which may begin to explain why we may feel most alive when far from home).

Abroad is the place where we stay up (in bed/sleep) late, follow impulse (desire/inspiration) and find ourselves as wide open (free) as when we are in love. We live without a past or future, for a moment at least, and are ourselves up for grabs (attract the attention of) and open to interpretation (Understanding). We even may become mysterious (difficult to understand, explain)-to others, at first, and sometimes to ourselves -and, as no less a dignitary (notable/worthy) than Oliver Cromwell once noted, “A man never goes so far as when he doesn’t know where he is going.”

There are, of course, great dangers to this, as to every kind of freedom, but the great promise of it is that, travelling, we are born again, and able to return at moments to a younger and a more open kind of self. Travelling is a way to reverse (move backwards:) time, to a small extent, and make a day last a year-or at least 45 hours-and travelling is an easy way of surrounding (transforming) ourselves, as in childhood, with what we cannot understand. Language facilitates this cracking (excellently) open (a new way), for when we go to France, we often migrate to French, and the more childlike self, simple and polite, that speaking a foreign language educes (conclude/understand from evidence and reasoning rather than from detail statements). Even when I’m not speaking pidgin (grammatically simple/local)English in Hanoi(the capital of Vietnam, , situated on the Red River in the north of the country;), I’m (feel) simplified in a positive way and concerned(worried) not with expressing myself, but simply making sense. (realizing) So, travel, for many of us, is a quest for not just the unknown, but the unknowing; I, at least, travel in search of an innocent eye (unknown things to me) that can return me to a more innocent self (make me unknown). I tend (like go or move) to believe more abroad than I do at home (which, though treacherous (bad) again, can at least help me to extend my vision),

and I tend (feel) to be more easily excited abroad, and even kinder. And since no one I meet can “place” (where do I live/ know about) me -no one can fix (decide about) me in my risumi (A brief account of one’s professional or work experience and qualifications) – I can remake myself for better, as well as, of course, for worse (evil) if travel is notoriously (famous for bad) a cradle (hold) for false identities, it can also, at its best, be a crucible (a situation of severe trial) for truer ones). In this way, travel can be a kind of monasticism (relating to monks, nuns, or others living under religious vows) on the move: On the road, we often live more simply (even when staying in a luxury hotel), with no more possessions (things/ lugged) than we can carry, and surrendering (adjust in the condition) ourselves to chance.

This is what Camus (Albert Camus French writer who portrayed the human condition as isolated in an absurd world ) meant when he said that “what gives value to travel is fear”- disruption (disturbance or problems), in other words, (or emancipation/ setting free) from circumstance (condition) , and all the habits behind which we hide. And that is why many of us travel not in search of answers, but of better questions. I, like many people, tend

 

(like) to ask questions of the places I visit, and relish (स्वाद/great enjoy) most the ones that ask the most searching questions back of me: “The ideal travel book,” Christopher Isherwood once said, “should be perhaps a little like a crime story in which you’re in search of something.” And it’s the best kind of something, I would add, if it’s one that you can never quite find.

I remember, in fact, after my first trips to Southeast Asia, more than a decade (ten) ago, how I would come back to my apartment in New York, and lie in my bed, kept up by something more than jet lag (extreme tiredness), playing back (remembering), in my memory, over and over, all that I had experienced, and paging (look through the pages of ) wistfully (interestingly) though my photographs and reading and re-reading my diaries, as if to extract (get/ come to know) some mystery from them. Anyone witnessing (look) this strange scene would have drawn (come to/ think) the right conclusion: I was in love.

When we go abroad is that we are objects (a person) of scrutiny(जाच के पात्र ) (छानबीन / critical investigation) as much as the people we scrutinize (carefully study/ जिंकी हम जाच कर रहे होते है), and we are being consumed (used up) by the cultures we consume (use), as much on the road as when we are at home. At the very least, we are objects of speculation (आकर्षण का केंद्र /guesswork) (and even desire) who can seem as exotic (नये new/originating in) to the people around us as they do to us.

All, in that sense, believed in “being moved” as one of the points of taking trips, and “being transported” by private as well as public means; all saw that “ecstasy” (परमानंद/great happiness or joyful excitement) (“ex-stasis”) tells us that our highest moments come when we’re not stationary (motionless), and that epiphany(feeling एहसास) can follow movement as much as it precipitates (become reason) it.

When you go to a McDonald’s outlet in Kyoto(japan), you will find Teriyaki (a Japanese dish consisting of fish or meat marinated in soy sauce and grilled) McBurgers and Bacon (बेकन / preserved meat from the back or sides of a pig) Potato Pies. The placemats (a small mat underneath a person’s dining plate) offer maps of the great temples of the city, and the posters all around broadcast the wonders of San Francisco (USA). And-most crucial (important) of all-the young people eating their Big Macs, with baseball caps (a cotton cap of a kind originally worn by baseball players) worn backwards, and tight 501 jeans, are still utterly and inalienably (enali enably/ absolute) Japanese in the way they move (walk), they nod(raise one’s head slightly/ इशारा), they sip their Oolong teas (Chinese tea ) – and never to be mistaken (by mistake we can not consider them) for the patrons (customer) of a McDonald’s outlet in Rio (Brazil /from river), Morocco or Managua (the capital of Nicaragua). These days a whole new realm (area) of exotica (interesting objects) arises out of the way one culture colours and appropriates the products of another.

The other factor complicating and exciting all of this is people, who are, more and more, themselves as many- tongued (languages) and mongrel (a person of mixed breed) as cities like Sydney or Toronto or Hong Kong. I am, in many ways, an increasingly typical specimen (sample/example), if only because I was born, as the son of Indian parents, in England, moved to America at 7 and cannot really call myself an Indian, an American or an Englishman. I was, in short, a traveler at birth, for whom even a visit to the candy store was a trip through a foreign world where no one I saw quite matched my parents’ inheritance, or my own. Besides, even those who don’t move around the world find the world moving more and more around them.

Walk just six blocks, in Queens (city, a part of New York) or Berkeley(बकली/a city in western California, a campus of the University of California), and you’re travelling through several cultures in as many minutes; get into a cab outside the White House, and you’re often in a piece of Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia). And technology, too, compounds (bring together) this (sometimes deceptive/ misleading) sense of availability (technology is giving an appearance or impression different from the true one or misleading us), so that many people feel they can travel around the world without leaving the room-through cyberspace or CD-ROMs, videos and virtual travel. There are many challenges in this, of course, in what it says about essential notions (ideas) of family and community and loyalty (honesty), and in the worry that air-conditioned, purely synthetic versions of places may replace the real thing- not to mention the fact that the world seems increasingly in flux (continuous changing), a moving target quicker than our notions(ideas) of it. But there is, for the traveler at least, the sense that learning about home and learning about a foreign world can be one and the same thing.

All of us feel this from the cradle (holding ideas), and know, in some sense, that all the significant movement we ever take is internal. We travel when we see a movie, strike (make/ of a thought or idea come into the mind) up a new friendship, get held up (keep).

Novels are often journeys as much as a travel books are fictions (literature in the form of prose that describes imaginary events and people); and though this has been true since at least as long ago as Sir John Mandeville’s colourful 14th century accounts (writing) of a Far East he’d never visited, it’s an even more shadowy (of uncertain identity or not clear) distinction now, as genre distinctions join other borders in collapsing.

Travel, then, is a voyage into that famously subjective zone, the imagination, and what the traveler brings back is – and has to be – an ineffable (too great to be described in words) compound of himself and the place, what’s really there and what’s only in him. And since travel is, in a sense, about the conspiracy of perception and imagination, the two great travel writers, , to whom I constantly return are Emerson and Thoreau /thro (Henry David Thoreau) (the one who famously advised that “travelling is a fool’s paradise,” and the other who “traveled a good deal in Concord” (सुसंवाद)). Both of them insist on the fact that reality is our creation, and that we invent the places we see as much as we do the books that we read. What we find outside ourselves has to be inside ourselves for us to find it. Or, as Sir Thomas Browne sagely put it, “We carry within us the wonders we seek without us. There is Africa and her prodigies (exceptional qualities or abilities/ प्रतिभा) in us.”

So, if more and more of us have to carry our sense of home inside us, we also – Emerson and Thoreau remind us-have to carry with us our sense of destination. The most valuable Pacifics we explore will always be the vast expanses within us, and the most important Northwest Crossings the thresholds we cross in the heart. The virtue of finding a gilded pavilion in Kyoto is that it allows you to take back a more lasting, private Golden Temple to your office in Rockefeller Center.

 

And even as the world seems to grow more exhausted(tired), our travels do not, and some of the finest travel books in recent years have been those that undertake a parallel journey, matching the physical steps of a pilgrimage with the metaphysical (आध्यात्मिक) steps of a questioning (as in Peter Matthiessen’s great “The Snow Leopard”), or chronicling (record) a trip to the farthest reaches of human strangeness (as in Oliver Sacks’ “Island of the Color-Blind,” which features a journey not just to a remote atoll in the Pacific, but to a realm where people actually see light differently). The most distant shores, we are constantly reminded, lie within the person asleep at our side.

So travel, at heart (by heart), is just a quick way to keeping (making) our minds mobile (movable/active) and awake. As Santayana (सांतायाना), the heir to Emerson and Thoreau with whom I began(this writing/essay), wrote, “There is wisdom in turning (changing possibly) as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar; it keeps the mind nimble (active); it kills prejudice (opinion in advance/पूर्वग्रह/bad thinking), and it fosters (develop /create) humour (comedyहास्य).” Romantic poets (Who originated an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement in Europe towards the end of the 18th century.) inaugurated (begin or introduce, शुभारंभ) an era (युग,दौर, a long and distinct period of history) of travel because they were the great apostles (supporter of a particular policy or idea promoter) of open eyes (openly). Buddhist monks (mank, भिक्षु, साधु) are often vagabonds(traveller), in part because they believe in wakefulness (activeness). And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened (give Hight) state of awareness (जागरूकता), in which we are mindful (सावधान conscious or aware of), receptive (willing to accept new suggestions and ideas/ग्रहणशील), undimmed (मंद) by familiarity (आत्मीयता) and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.

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