Why I travel

by Ameer Hamza, Sep 27, 2005 | Destinations: Pakistan / Islamabad

This question looks absurd at first. But look deeper and you shall find it quite interesting - and difficult to answer.

Travelling is a passion. But it is much more than that. It is a way of life for me. But it wasn't that way before. Something must have happened in between. And I don't remember what it was.

I travel because it gives me a sense of freedom. A sense that is hard to come by in this utterly boorish urban landscape. I don't mean to suggest that Karachi is boring. No, it's not. It's just that I don't like it here any more. I want more of something new. The difference need be quantifiable in terms of pleasure bits and love bytes.

The exoticness of lands and of seas and of mountains is yet another charmer for me. But landscapes in isolation can be dreadful at times. They need animation. It is here that the best part of travelling comes in - the birds, the animals and the humans.

I travel because I need to be in touch with the dynamics of nature. Urban dwellers face an imminent risk of getting entangled in plastic life. A life that has come to define our unpleasant existence. Most of us can't think beyond it. The laptops are babies and the internet is a pamper. Believe me, life is much more that that. Much more beautiful and mystical than what you could imagine at home.

But make no mistake. I am not referring to an idea where you hop from one destination to another without understanding anything in between. Many people do that. Chances are that most readers are similar bugs. And they are the greatest threat to this wonderful art.

Travelling means much more than airplanes and luxury liners. It means you absorb the destination. You feel the place and understand the pace of life. The idea of life is not homogenous, travel has taught me. And it is a remarkable education which schools don't provide. And I hate schools for that.

And travelling has brought me some patience as well. For instance, once I was haggling with a Pathan (a member of a tribe that inhibits North Pakistan) in Naran and he offered me a chai (tea). Thinking that it would arrive within minutes I told him to get one. And mind you, the bus was waiting for me outside. That chai arrived after 25 minutes! That's testing urban patience.

Travelling in a way brings you closer to God. It tells you that you are really not as important as you think about yourself. And when people refuse to give you much importance suddenly it dawns on you that creatures are by themselves unimportant. They become important if they do something for others. It is here where ants and honey bees beat us. And it is a shame for all of us.

Travelling removes that garb of dis-honesty. It forces you to rethink your priorities. And it forces you to see the world as it really is. It is a world of famine stricken, war-torn, bonded people. We are in an absolute minority. Think about this fact: one third of this world's population has never used a telephone. And we thought that cell-phone was a life-saving drug. It isn't.

And the world has what humans could never hope to achieve. It has the likes of K-2, Nanga Parbat, Death valley, Amazon and such wonders that are uncountable. And yet we think we know the world.

We don't know it. And the only true way of knowing it, as it is, is to travel. That makes life worth living a thousand times over.

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