Road To Damascus
Look closely, the road is a mirror!
for love of the road ... and the soul
Not for the sake of starting with a rhetorical question, but to help you stay with the idea of this travelogue, I request you to spare 30 seconds and think about "Why do I (i.e. you) travel?". In a conversation last night, Ipshita wondered about the different ways in which people plan their travel - there are some who save up and go on that one big trip and there are those who are perpetually traveling. Of course, the motivation to travel plays a very big role - are you unwinding or are you "finding"? But why am I talking about these things? Isn't this supposed to be about a road trip made in some part of India. It sure is. However, it is also much more than that. And that means, like the way I travel, I will digress from the main road.
According to the Bible, Saul was on his way to Syria with the intention of bringing Christians back to Jeruselam and in all probability persecuting them for their beliefs. On the road to Damascus he was blinded by a very bright light which shined upon him knowledge of God's existence. While I cannot claim to be a believer, I was mesmerized by the fact that a "road" trip (assumption being Saul, who came to be known as Paul, was traveling on some form of road) could be a life altering experience. And that, my friends, is why the name of this travelogue.
It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end - Ernet Hemingway
During the course of this trip, I met people and visited places that added something positive inside me. They taught me to look around for beauty around us and be open to the idea that I could find it in the unlikeliest of places. They even made me realize that there are a lot of stories that we miss pass by because we are fixated on reaching "the destination" - checking boxes as I call it. And, in this way, the way we travel starts mirroring the way we live our lives.
I have loved traveling ever since I was a child - be it the long train journeys from different cities to our native in eastern Uttar Pradesh, or be it our very first flight on Papa's LTA, or be it the umpteen overnight drives in from Lucknow to Deoria - I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. Many of us would remember looking at intersecting rails "coming out" of the train underbody and wondering, "what on earth is happening". As time passed, my fascination with trains and aeroplanes has receded. I do of course use them but I am acutely aware of the fact that they do not allow me to choose my pace or my stops and they definitely do not encourage detours. In a way I felt that I was not traveling in the true spirit of travel.
Traveling on the road gives you a sense of freedom which no other medium of travel can possibly provide. The actual ingeunity of this freedom can definitely be debated - after all how free are you if you are traveling in a mortgaged car for which you are paying instalments every month. But if you have reached this far in your thought process, beleive me you have made a giant leap. Knowing what shackles you is the first step to freeing yourself from it.
Many a people, mostly in the context of life, have spoken about the importance of the journey itself as opposed to the destination. Quoting Hemingway "It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end". To someone who firmly believes in this, road trips have become a natural choice of traveling. I remember leaving at 2 in the night from Hyderabad to Pune along with two of my closest friends. Or the trip to Goa with my wife and infant daughter, by the end of which, both of us were quite sure we were not doing a road trip with each other again. Of course, we were more than glad to have proved ourselves wrong. Or the time when Ipshita, with Sparsh still two months away from being born, and I embarked on that trip to Lucknow from Hyderabad. Of course, we got to hear from our "well-meaning" relatives. Among many other things, I owe it to these trips to have shaped my world view.
Given a choice I would really love to be on the road throughout the year - yes - you are right, throughout the year. Sleeping in the car, eating fruits and vegetables, growing a glowing beard - looking entirely the part of an enlightened person. But for all this love of road trips, I feel I have done much less than I should have. And for all my claims of loving writing, I have written about them even lesser. Through this travelogue, I intend to start a small effort at reconciling the two things I love - traveling and writing. Like all other cases of love, I will realize during the course of this "journey", if this was love indeed or just an(other) infatuation. And like in all such cases, it will indeed be heartbreaking if it is the latter. Which turn this trip of mine takes, do remember to create your own experience!