Who could have imagined, that our ever-running world would come to a halt?
A silence that our earth, rivers, the sky, 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, what ever we created, nothing came to our rescue but age old virtues like resilience, patience and may be prayer. Today we are afraid and vulnerable to even step out of our homes freely. For sometime at least, nothing is going to be like the world we had.
Whereas in a sweet turn of events for our co-habitants, 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, 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 in India “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 including the ones which 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, walking for years on land, the mountains and in the jungle, and sat for years doing tapa, that is 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, discontented, anxious and unhealthy.
Life of a traveller is short, because he becomes intoxicated with the world, with practices and information in each passing breath. And so in this time of isolation I sat down and revisited my quiet life as traveller that grew me immensely and may even help you to find peace within. It is also that the founding idea of my travels is not of passing, but of becoming wherever you are; staying put, quietly seeing.
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 the knowledge comes to those who are humble. And it is one of the foremost things that you start earning slowly as you start trusting. Going closer within communities, people, learning, understanding and loving however and whatever way they are in; that no human is different from the other. All are one within.
2. To become all embracing, Listeners
The future enters through our ears, said an old man in the Himalayas. It is one of the hardest things to do but very conducive. An act of nothingness is what needs to be done the most. 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. See where the sound wants to lead you.
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. Travel Alone
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 heaven waiting within.
5. Become friends with an old person
Well, personally it has been the most blessed thing to have found friendships in living books that are these elderly ones who are waiting to be asked, to be poked, to only turn into child like once again. But it is also true as much that one will find you, the one which you are searching for.
These friends don’t only carry stories, but discipline in varied ways. Experience of the land that can be found nowhere else. I bow to one such teacher who blessed me with a magic life saving skill. 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 oneself.
7. Know, The Elements of life
This being my favourite carries all capabilities to align you with your elements. The slow deep breathing long Walking times tunes your heart and lungs in its own right into meditation order. The purest form of seeing and keeping ourselves and nature in check and healthy.
8. How can you Contribute ?
Travelling and staying at one place for a longer periods start pushing you in more ways than one. People love people who step up to give, a part of sustainable travelling, It can be taking up teaching local children, visiting local NGO’s, primary schools, and other such places where you meet locals, and learn about a complete new way of knowing rural economy and society.
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 intimately within themselves and are the bed rock of the society. You can walk around asking for such people if you are curious enough to know something deeper.
10. What if today is my last day
I wanted to include the most brutal truth as it is the easiest to look beyond. But when you carry the memories of a young friend died in college, a lover who died in an accident, the ones who were not called but forced to exit the world.
It is not really fair to think of it as a traveller but I talk myself into it now only to motivate myself. To become disciplined. To make myself believe in a 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 and 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 you 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 is to become a bridge for anyone who is seeking. To believe following the path of ahimsa, 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 you have spent on the road, or how many countries you checked in, it is but how many places you couldn’t leave because people didn’t let you go, that you changed, and with you your world.
Hope it made you smile.
For the deeper explorations, see you on the road to nara !