Much as I love to travel, my favorite way to do this hardly involves any physical movement. All I do is pick up my guide from the shelf, flip through the first chapter and before I know it, I have a new set of friends, an occasional lover, a wicked plot, and an address I’m taught is mine as long as I can pronounce its name.
This is probably the most affordable way to travel. You spend very little to see life unfold as you would on a motorbike driving past the Mekong or sitting on a coach in the middle of an Indian summer.
I’ve heard it said that nothing is quite like seeing a site and being present for all of it, all at once. It’s true but something’s often missing. Places in themselves don’t easily resonate with me.
Books, on the other hand, are living places entombed in pages. Once I’ve visited some of them, I feel better about getting lost in the world we know. I feel the arrow of the compass inside me whir as I walk past streets around the world.
Everything I know best about travel and life I learned through the written word. As I embark on this journey to see more and more of the world, I’m humbled by where it all began. I was sitting on the floor in a used bookstore flipping through one planet after another until I was hooked, dreaming of places with names I couldn’t spell let alone utter.
In Darjeeling, I arrived during a downpour. My ego soaked in a pot of tea as the thought of having traveled so far for not a single glimpse of the Himalayas dawned on me. I took a walk back to my homestay, shoes already wet, clothes damp.
The next day there was sunshine and as I traced the path up the plaza, this sight of the Oxford Book & Stationery Co. brought tears to my eyes.
We always get lost but because of my love for books, I’m certain I’ll always be found.