Nobody ever thought that our ever-running world would come to a halt. A silence that the earth, the rivers and the skies, birds, animal, us thought was never possible. Someone, an invisible one invading our lives, to that point he made a mockery of our system, of our inventions, whatever we ever created, nothing came to our rescue but age old virtues like resilience, patience and may be prayers. Today we are afraid and vulnerable to even step out of our homes freely. For sometime at least, nothing is not going to be same.
Whereas in a sweet turn of events we are the ones caged. And most other beings are doing much better rather enjoying our absence. Only leaving us to breathing and observing this unprecedented change. A change, that is commanding us to leave the environment on its own. With no interfering or intrusion needed.
No amount of money ever came close to clean our rivers and our skies. But it was the fear of disease and death that forced us to sit at one place for months. That same fear which makes all animals tremble the moment they learn of being trapped pt caged for slaughter, for somebody’s pleasure.
From here onwards any certainty is far fetched. Of how the life post pandemic will be in the long run. Most probably it will take on with similar course it has always been. Forgetting it like any other storm life threw at mankind. Yet I am optimistic that there are people, who may well revisit their lives and its meaning. And how from here onwards it can be shaped for world’s good altogether.
In one way or the other every being that has acquired any space on this planet has a story and hence is a traveller; yet only a handful awaken the will and desire to see, to seek the beyond, the unknown. To take self-forward to the land of his forefathers, who once roamed to hunt, to gather and cultivate, at a time when there were no lines, no borders but earth as whole. Like how we say “World is one big family”.
Few years ago while swimming in the river Tungbhadra in Sringeri, I met an Indian data Scientist who had left his job in the US to work on the Indian River system. Only during that time he made me realize something very commonplace, yet the realization of its true meaning changed something in me right there. It could also be the sweet ancient water of tungbhadra I drank while talking with him; but to learn more of my past, of the forefathers who carried this civilization, the people who learnt and knew much of the ways without any technology or Science available to them. That every generation has become far less Indian than the previous ones and so goes for any civilization that are no more there.
Travellers of the ancient world were not merely travelling. They were people with much higher concentration and understanding. They were the seekers of the invincible absolute. They travelled sitting still, on boat, walked for years on the mountains and in the jungle, and they sat for years doing tapa, i.e examining fiery discipline in their meditation.
Today there is no doubt that our age is the most comfortable, connected generation of all the periods that us sapiens have seen. Yet as we are getting closer to each other, we are increasingly becoming disconcerting and discontented, anxious and unhealthy.
Life of a traveller is short, because he becomes intoxicated with the world, with practices and information with each passing breath. And so from my own experiences I sat down to make a list of all those ideas or philosophies that have helped me immensely. It is also that my idea of travels is not of passing, but becoming wherever you are, that. But to be that is a balance between pleasure and respect. You may also read respect as discipline. Yes, those words, pleasure and fiery discipline! It’s a very thin line. Almost invisible but ever present like wind.
Here are few experiences that shaped me. My ways of perceiving an act, any happening, or as simple as breathing.
The first and the source of it all is in being humble and showing gratitude. There’s a beautiful saying that our forefathers wrote long ago in sanskrit श्रद्धावान् लभते ज्ञानम् that means knowledge comes to those who is humble.
2. To become all embracing, Listeners
The future enters through our ears. It is one of the hardest things to do but very conducive. An act of nothingness. And it is not just like that when the great Iranian Filmmaker Abbas Kirostami said of Photography being the mother of Cinema. As it is the most observant of real time arts.
3. Learn a few sentences of the local language
This is my friends is the most respectful and instantly accomplishing thing that you would do. To learn a few preambles of their language. To start a conversation with anyone in a strange, new place. You never know it may be a start of a life long friendship.
4. Travelling by ones own self
To some it may sound boring, but at some point of your lives it will go on to change your stories. Because first of all it is very addictive and second you may well already be on the road to the heavens within.
5. Become friends with an old person
Well, It is also the other way round but generally old people have time and a bank of prescriptive ideas. Out of three septuagenarian friends whom I was blessed to learn from and about things apart from skill was the magic in the mountains. Meeting Rasool bhai changed my days and nights in Kashmir and with Shiv ji well, I think he curved it. Let me talk about it in the next step.
6. Learn a skill
We all have something to share, to give. Long time travels become static many a times if the purpose is lost. Music, writing or something that the locals can get some benefit out of your skill work wonders in uplifting the environment and stay for a longer period.
7. Walking as much as possible
This being my favorite of all is also good for heart and lungs. A long Walk in its own right is a meditation in itself. The purest form of seeing and keeping ourselves healthy.
One study concluded that walkinga mile and a half would release 75% less greenhouse gases than we would produce from driving the same distance.
Once after you had gone through the popular places, you may start asking for a place where you can share your knowledge and skills. People love people who step up to give. You can visit local NGO’s, primary schools and other such places where you can meet locals and enrich your experience to a memorable one.
9. Visit local writers, teachers and local artisans
One of my favorite things after I settle down at a place is to look out for people who are living much more intimately within themselves as well as being a bed rock of the society. You can walk around asking for such people if you are curious enough to know something deeper.
9. Go to bed hungry
Well, this might come as a surprise for anyone making world a better place but I am writing this completely aware of the consequences. It is the hardest thing to do for a traveller but for a yogi who tends to look up to the sun for all directions, this has been my personal discipline. The harder it is in the night, the lighter you get up in the morning. Immunity strong. You feel little up, little running.
Yet at the same time, I keep making an exception from time to time. And it depends only on the times that are decided by you.
11. What if today is my last day
I wanted to include the truest most thing that we are closest to. We don’t know. It is again unfair to think of as a traveller but I talk myself into it only to motivate myself. To make myself believe in the larger life. What is important now? Many a times it has helped me in prioritizing my life right. And it is not me, yogis live by this rule, and so do many people who inspire the spirit in you to do right. To do your best.
I must tell you something, i did have to learn a few things the hard way but many things that I have mentioned here were received through a long time of seeing. Very slowly without me being aware of it. But I can tell you that the source of it all was only being respectful, first foremost to yourself. That’s it! Respecting oneself.
I imagine that if you go through all the above ideas alongside cultivating your own true vision, with experience and research; I am certain that it will give a good chance of having a memorable time not just while travelling any particular where but through this road we say life.
Also, It may not be the perfect philosophy for many of you as well. For you may be thinking this to be the most boring and dullest advices ever but however that may be, only these ones have served me through.
And if you just went through reading thinking this is so close to how you would like to have your own travel hustle, then let me tell you, you are going to like Road to Nara.
Regardless of what you may think, my only reason to be here writing or
Any where that I may be is only to make our world a beautiful experience. To make friends, to share ideas, resources, memories that even if you are not there, your mere thought can uplift somebody’s moment; and trust me you will feel that yourself, quietly. Because at the end of the day it is not about how many miles you flew, or your years on the road, or how many places you reached but how many places you couldn’t leave because you had spent the best times there, with them.
And from here if you are thinking to start travelling yourself, or if you are a young veteran, already travelling the world, I may only suggest you to take the time out to reflect on what life of travels means to you.
Hope this made you smile.
For the real adventures, see you on the road to nara !