We have all been under this lockdown for a long time now, not seeing anything much apart from the four walls of our homes. Yet, through this period, I have felt as if I am still travelling, thanks to my zeal for writing.
I have spent a large part of the lockdown fervently scribbling down details of my travel experiences. For instance, my visit to Australia and New Zealand which I undertook about a year back. As I write about it, I am pulled back into the many conversations I had with locals and other visitors. I find myself getting excited, again, as I recount first glimpses of certain places.
A few weeks back, I was writing about some of the famous bridges I have walked on. As expected, New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge took up the most words! I found myself standing there once again, exhilarated, looking at Manhattan’s stunning skyline stretched out in front, and the Statue of Liberty on one side. I had sat down on one of the benches, taking in the view, and and become a poet for a while.
I wrote about my feelings while visiting well-known addresses, from Mother Teresa’s home in Kolkata to Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield, not far from Chicago. It was a joy stepping into such historic spaces once again, from the comfort of my home.
And these writing sessions are galvanising me to put it all into a book.
Other than writing, I like to recollect the boarding music of all the airlines I have travelled with, especially when I feel lonely, or sometimes even while I am sipping coffee! YouTube brings you all these tunes. And what magic it is! Within seconds, I am back in the air, sometimes even reminded of the meals I had at 35,000 feet, or the views I enjoyed from the window seat.
Sometimes I like to share my travel experiences with neighbours from my balcony. That has also become a ritual. Or when I sit with my grandmother who remains curious to know more, especially about the different cuisines I have sampled.
I take my travel memories to my bed too, when falling asleep seems a titanic task. I pick anything, be it one of the flights I was on, a guided tour in a museum or a parliament, or an exciting adventure like climbing the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, or being on the zenith of Space Needle in Seattle, perhaps a festival I was part of, or cycling somewhere with the wind on my face... and so much more.
Sometimes I am confused about what experience to choose to relive, but when I make my choice, I patiently comb through it from scene one and sail on, till I feel soothed and eventually doze off. Reliving these memories also gives them a much longer life.
Every time I re-live my experiences, I laud the power and magic of travelling. It gives you much more than you expect. It truly opens up your mind and helps us re-discover the world. There’s a reason why Saint Augustine, a 4th century philosopher, rolled out these words: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” After all, travel adds a unique charm and clarity in life. Let’s also not forget: ‘Not all classrooms have four walls’, and travelling is certainly one such classroom. This classroom also made me realise, ‘One half of the world does not know how the other half lives’. But what we learn and unlearn, holds the magic!
This article is a submission by one of our readers, and part of our new series #OTReadersWrite.