Travel must be one of life’s greatest pleasures…unless you are an eco-warrior who only sees smudges of carbon on the shiny terminal floor as the heaving throngs get packed into steel tubes and are despatched across the skies. Or, you could be quite content with your own world that travelling does not hold any special allure. Or, you are incurious and indifferent and would rather build a shed than pack a bag to go somewhere to blow some hard cash to experience foreign lands.
As for me, I’m addicted to the idea of travel and will check out the Guardian’s Travel section regularly and read up about the truly exotic, off the beaten track places their journalists go to. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have travelled to various places round this world. But there is always a craving to see more, to be elsewhere, somewhere where the sea is a deeper blue and the hibiscus a more intense shade of pink. The world, when we seek to escape our realities, is always tinged with a heightened richness that is very seductive.A Konica version of a perfect getaway. I’m sure we all have our own rich fantasies associated with our desire to travel.
I caught a sense of that when I was in the taxi to the airport a couple of weeks or so ago. My driver, from Kabul, struck up a conversation in Hindi and we found common ground instantly – the Bollywood stars he admired – Shahrukh, Salman and Hrithik, his family of three children – a son and two girls. Why did I not have more than one child? I told him that when I grew up in India, we genuinely didn’t want to overload the planet any further. In that cab journey, we’d conjured up a familiar world – speaking with courtesy and respect as Hindi/Urdu makes you do – and it felt precious to savour that experience. Soon, our chat turned to travel and it turned out that he was a secret dreamer of wanting to see the wider world. He asked me detailed questions of where all I’d travelled in India – Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and his yearning was clear when he wanted to know if I’d travelled to distant lands like America. I said I had and asked him if he wished to see these places sometime and he seemed a little wistful and said what with a family to support, he couldn’t see it happening anytime soon. I urged him to visit Europe before the rules changed and we parted as friends – he said he felt really happy to have had this chat and I said ditto. We’d both spent that short time paying tribute to the idea of travelling.
What happens on arrival after the long journey spent in suspension (literally and figuratively) is another matter altogether…