We travel for pleasure, for a door-slamming sense of “I’m outta here,” for a change of air, for edification, for the big vulgar boast of being distant, for the possibility of being transformed, for the voyeuristic romance of gawping at the exotic; and sometimes we travel because we have been banished. I was banished once, and it fortified me.
Anticipating India has made me anxious and hungry to devour anything written about the country. I’m excited and I know it but I’m also hitting that point when I feel like I’ve researched too much and read loads more than I should. This is the one thing that baffles me about today’s set of explorers. We want to be so realistic about expectations that we go out of our way to know everything that can be known. I’ve had over 25 tabs open and running since last week–each one a portal into someone’s India that narrates everything spent, experienced, done. These days, all travel decisions can be made without even stepping foot in the places we’ve yet to see. Do I want to see Hue or Hoi An? Are these places worth my money? Will I enjoy a bus-ride or a train-ride? What can I do if I stay for x number of days?
Tonight, the tabs are still around but I’m ignoring them and opting to read this magazine instead. It’s a handsome little volume that excites me and seeing that it’s published here in the Philippines makes me even more thrilled.
Admittedly though, I’m a bit let down by what I have read–not that the magazine failed to deliver but rather, the itinerary I have for India has been taken on by others–as if the internet wasn’t bad enough. They’ve written about all of it–and it’s silly, I know, but doesn’t this get to you? Do you feel some slight ache over this?
For a brief moment, I lost my will to roam only because it hit me that there are no longer any uncharted territories and only places where others have been. I know this is not what travel is about and I know that tomorrow I will regret whining in public but still, there is some disillusionment to be felt knowing that the places you ache to discover have been stripped bare of their mystery by many a traveler.
Thanks to Theroux, though, there’s hope for all of us. Maybe the lesson to be learned is that exploration is as much a journey into oneself as it is a journey outward into the world.