Saturday, November 14, 2009

Traveling Differently

We human beings have travelled since the birth of time. It is assumed that we started the journey of travelling as nomads, shepherds, gypsies and then resulting as the modern tourists. When I travel, I try to focus on traversing through a physical change of state as well as a spiritual and psychological voyage. I like to feel, explore and live the traversed state of existence.

One of my favourite travelling destinations is India. No matter how many times I have visited my own motherland, the journey never seems to end. There is always something that I haven’t seen before. This is perhaps why I keep visiting India almost every year, rather than wandering around the globe. I think it is important to see my own country of birth and learn more about it before I explore the rest of the world.

Travelling from Norway to India is not like a fresh breath of air you inhale. It is rather the pollution, traffic, heat, crowd, poverty and various hullabaloos that greet your arrival. You are exasperated by the constant nagging of road-sellers, rickshaw and taxi bargains and the paparazzi-beggars. Money opens certain doors and shuts some others. You feel as if you have ended up in a mess you would never understand, a chaos that you would probably drown in. Therefore, you play safe. You drink mineral water, avoid eating offered anything outside a five star hotel, stick to your tour guide and hope not getting lost and shop only branded clothes in hope of buying quality. You trip rapidly comes to an end, and you conclude probably by stating that India is a nice country to visit, homely hospitality, spicy food, chaotic but interesting and last but not least cheap shopping and modern culture.

The above-mentioned paragraph falls on my list of ten things not to do in life (not that I have a list). Dear author, please forgive me for not remembering your name, but you (a famous man) once said, “Be like the Romans, when in Rome.” I am aware that it is difficult to walk in someone else´s shoes when you are a tourist and a nomad in another country, but we can always travel differently by living and feeling the life.

I refuse to drink mineral water, and just have regular-boiled-water offered in the homes of the people. During my stay, I do not use toilet paper, and wash my ass as the locals do – with water. Do we, Europeans, ever prospect this habit as an alternative to save millions of trees being chopped for toilet paper? I do get sick by eating all road-side-meals, but what is the point of me calling India as my country of birth when I cannot even drink the water of my rivers?

Have you ever heard of the Marwaris? The next time you are in India, you should crash a Marwari wedding. They are known to be one of the world’s most expensive weddings. People send lavishly on the decorations, jewelleries, food and clothes. Most of the poorer part of this caste end up in depths for life after a family member gets married.

Did you know that the Indus Valley Civilization is one of the oldest civilizations in the world? The civilization mostly centred the Indian Subcontinent around the Indus river basin. You should try to make a visit to some of the world’s oldest cities, which were built for more than 2500 years ago, such as Harappa and Mohenjadaro. Experience an art culture, handicraft techniques, galleries, museums, traditional Indian markets - something you would have never imagined of – get lost!

Along the trip, you could maybe also make a halt in:
  • Gujarat (known for it's various festivals such as the kite-festival and also the birth place of known leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi)
  • Rajasthan (where the pink, blue and yellow cities lie, and also where India’s largest desert is located)
  • the Andaman and Nicobar islands (where a primitive stone age society still exists along some of India’s beautiful coral reefs)
  • the backwaters and the biodiversity of Kerala 
  • the temples and the spirituality of Tamil Nadu
  • the sages by the feet of Himalayas
  • hear the story of Ram and Sita at Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of India
  • the churches and lighthouse built by the Portuguese in Goa
  • the IT-capital of the world – Bangalore
  • the fashion and Bollywood centre of India – Mumbai
  • the beaches of Chennai
  • the hosiery and knit centre of the world - Tiruppur
  • the capital of India containing antique British buildings and palaces, the parliament and Rashtrapathi Bhavan (India’s white house) – New Delhi. Learn about the politics and the government!
  • the numerous dances, culinary art, traditional art and food culture of India!

My list could go on and on and on…

But my point remains constant for the time being – travel differently, as Paulo Coelho once wrote.

Feel, explore and live the common man´s life!

No comments: