One thing I’ve learned in 20 years of travel is that we live in a world of infinite variety. No two countries are alike and you can spend years in a place and still barely scratch the surface of its culture. That being said I will attempt in this blog to share some of the insights and observations that I’ve picked up on the road. I write for fun. I love words and I get a kick out of crafting sentences and describing the world around me. Hopefully some readers will find my writings informative and maybe even entertaining.
So, what are my travel credentials? How did I come into this nomadic lifestyle? Well, let’s get down to brass tacks.
I’ve been travelling the world since I was six years old, the age at which my parents decided to head for the Far East without looking back. We endured a few brutally cold winters in northeast China back in the 1990’s, when Occidental people held an almost mythological status in that part of the world. Whenever we ventured outdoors we got heads turning. In the local vegetable market strangers would pinch our skin and run their fingers through our hair to see what we were made of.
All this attention was flattering to begin with but pretty soon privacy and anonymity became luxuries which I craved. So it was something of a relief when my parents sent my brother and I away to boarding school in the highland jungles of Malaysia and then to Thailand and finally to a hill station in India, all former colonies where the local people were more accustomed to the sight of foreigners.
Thus began an education which encompassed a large chunk of Asia. From the ages of 8 to 18 I never spent a full year in one country. I never hung around in one spot long enough to see the seasons change.
All this has left me with ‘itchy feet syndrome’. I cannot fully integrate into my home culture. I find an immobile life intolerable; claustrophobic. I can’t comfortably sit at home knowing that somewhere far away the shola forests of the Nilgiri valleys are rippling in an afternoon breeze; pan-chewing Dhobi women are thrashing clothes in a murky river, their bright saris billowing in the current; sampans are jostling for harbour space in front of the jagged Hong Kong skyline; buffaloes are wading through a dawn-purpled paddy field; rickshaw drivers are sitting on some roadside smoking beedis and swigging from unlabelled bottles; Toda farmers are keeping vigil over their fields against foraging wild boars; naked holy men are dancing on hot coals at a mountain shrine beneath a night thick with stars and incense.
When I was younger I drove myself half crazy trying to understand the world. I’ve since realized that nothing really makes sense and you can never get to the core of human existence. I have learned to stand back and admire the glories of creation; to embrace the mystery of it all.
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