I Want To Be A Traveller
Ever since I was a child, I have always suffered from a deep-seeded urge to wander. But I don’t want to be a tourist. I want to be a traveller. You want to know the difference?
A tourist’s approach to travel is very casual.
Step One – He spots her:
The tourist zeroes in on a place. He doesn’t give the place a lot of thought. Instead he picks it like he would any woman in a bar.
Step Two – The rendezvous:
A tourist makes a catalogue of places – popular (read cliché) places that Google so kindly lists for him. He rushes through each one of these places, religiously. Sort of like a quick fuck. You are in and out before you know it.
Step Three – The Morning After:
When you are a tourist your relationship with the city or country of choice is like a one-night stand. It is a brief love affair that lasts for a night and is forgotten the next morning but bragged about for days to come. But travelling is not very different from falling in love.
Step One – Love-at-First-Sight:
A traveller sees a place - and sometimes instantly or even slowly over a period of time – she (the place you long to travel to) catches his attention. And so he Googles the place relentlessly, gazing dreamily at pictures of her. He stalks her online by reading websites and travel blogs on her. He envies those who have travelled to the place with the passion of a lover seething over a girlfriend’s ex. And after days or even months of longing from afar he decides to take the first step.
Step Two - The courting:
After months of penny-pinching he is finally there. [Here again travelling is no different from a lover. She empties your pocket.] Now that he is finally with her, he pays her his undivided attention. He studies her history, her people and her places, and relishes his time with her. He takes long walks in the city, learning her every curve. He strays far beyond the tourist spots and hunts for secret places hidden in her contours. He savours her aroma and her taste at local food stalls and cheap restaurants. He makes memories with the city. Memories he knows he will hold dear for years to come.
Step Three - The parting of ways:
And when it is time to leave he carries a little part of her with him. Back at home, he thinks of those long nights and strolls on the streets with silent longing. He knows he will travel to other places, and love them more or less. But each place remains special in its own ways. I want to be a traveller. I want to know every city I go to as intimately as a lover. See, a relationship changes you. So must the places you travel to. If it hasn’t, you haven’t truly seen the place.