Thursday, July 7, 2011

El Viajero - The Traveller

I keep on hearing this one thing from every other person i meet - " I love to travel"..... it has become the cliche of the century..... its almost as if you are incomplete as a human being without it....... but i suppose it has evolved into a part of our everyday lives..... where we no longer have the boundaries that our predecessors had........ and in the ever changing scenario, people have started to exercise a very universal love of seeking something new......
while i completely understand that..... is that what 'travel' is?...... a lot of the people who "love to travel" tell me their plans and i cant help but wonder if along with time, its definition has evolved as well....... when i was in picturesque Europe...... a place that is literally crafted for a traveller..... where ones luggage should be - a single bag and a truckload of curiosity...... as i sat and looked at the enchanting sights, a slightly less interested fellow "traveller" couldn't wait to buy a handbag...... and this was not a Calfskin bag that is a speciality of Rome, but a knockoff bag from "PRADO"......
but maybe i am biased as I have no interest in handbags whatsoever..... but can we call her a traveller? ....... on another occasion I had the opportunity to speak to a "globetrotting" couple...... they have touched every continent and aim to reach every nook and corner...... but then comes the biggest let down - the best part - they say was.... "the spa".......... my face fell immediately..... if this was a treatment they took in the Dead Sea - thats a different story altogether!..... but this was just a regular 5 star hotel spa treatment, maybe with a few local herbs thrown in....... and you had to spend air travel to and fro for that?.........

maybe in this sense im a little bit of a puritan..... i believe a true traveller is one that comes back with blisters on their feet - from walking the lanes of the city...... tan from the sun that didn't hinder their journey...... and a twinkle in the eye when they tell you a hundred stories they've picked up on the way...... these stories are of great pride to the traveller and its great to hear......... they may forget their pin number but they won't forget the smell that came from the brewery when they were in Brussels....... the traveller may not have a lot of money in their pocket.... matter of fact, in most cases, dont have a lot of money in their pockets..... because they believe that to truly experience a place, you must live like their average local....... they love to speak to the people and also love to blend in by speaking the language........ spend as much time you want with them..... they may even let you rip them off a little but please don't call them 'a tourist'..... i truly believe the worn out traveller bears an aversion to this title...... for one thing, we want to blend in, not stand out...... when we walk down the street, we do not mindlessly take pictures in front of the most widely recognised landmark so as to prove we were there, completely ignoring the most charming street vendor........ our souvenirs are ticket stubs, wrappers of the local chocolates and our fortune that we took from the lady with the parrot and not miniatures of the same building we took a picture of....... we are like curious students trying to learn from the place..... we are like clay that is waiting to be moulded into the environment...... and there would be no greater joy than being considered one with the city, even if it is just for one magical moment.....
at the same time..... it is not right that i judge someones choice of how to spend their time and money.... that is true, each to their own........ its up to you if you want to spend your time shopping, in the spa and at the golf course.... but do not call yourself a traveller......
........ i will leave you with a fascinating quote by Eduardo √örculo, the man who built El Viajero ("The Traveller", 1992) - a statue dedicated to the traveller in Oviedo, Spain...

"Life is the image of the romantic traveller, always turning away with his luggage. The face is what least interests me about the body, the back is more universal."........






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