I am surrounded by people who love to travel. My friends, family, colleagues. Travel by far tops the wish and the bucket list for most.
There is just something about getting away from the here and exploring other places of calm or adventure, that everyone is hooked! From what I know, it makes people feel more alive, gives them a moment to breathe in this mad race and connects them to something more than the lives that we’re all living.
As for me, I have never really understood the charm travel holds. And while I’m aware that I absolutely detest the act of packing, I know the reason goes deeper.
Very early in my life, I realised that I am not a cursory traveler. I never understood how just watching the sun rise once from behind a mountain range, is supposed to evoke stirring emotions. Or how, sitting by the sea one evening is supposed to calm me more than a hundred meditations. Yes of course, it all feels good, I can’t deny that. But I need to make the place my own, before feeling anything real for it. I need to live there like its home, before allowing it to leave an impression.
On a holiday to Bangkok some years ago, I visited their Art & Culture Centre every day; sitting in their coffee shop, wandering in their galleries. If I ever go there again, I would probably repeat the same routine. I belong to a breed that likes to put down roots even on a 4-day holiday.
So, when I spent about a week in Andaman recently (against my wishes I must add), my goal was very clear. It has to be more than a sum total of good-looking beaches and serene sea waves. Andaman is breathtakingly beautiful, and that’s a good start to any holiday. The waters are pristinely blue, people are unimaginably simple and the remnants of our painful history are sprawled across islands. But, Andaman schooled me and by extension Joylogues, in much more.
(i) Joy in our conviction
In Cellular Jail on Port Blair, many of our freedom fighters were imprisoned in inhuman conditions. In addition to the solitary confinement, the prisoners were given sub-standard food with stones and insects in it, water that smelled like urine and were not allowed to wash hands after defecation. They were given impossible targets of manually extracting coconut oil and were flogged if they failed, which they mostly did. But even in such savage conditions, the prisoners united through their voices, uplifting each other through songs of freedom and love for India, from their respective cold, dark 15*9 ft cells.
(ii) Passion that you cannot ignore
In Havelock, or officially Swaraj Island, we met a man who took us Night Kayaking. Probably in his late 40s, he had moved there about three years ago from Bangalore, leaving behind a well-paying, well-established IT career. His knowledge of the sea especially mangroves was deep and robust. He had a family still back in Bangalore, while he was away on these islands, pursuing a passion that his heart could no longer ignore.
(iii) Ego makes our lives small
After spending an evening with a fellow traveler by the sea, she mentioned to me casually – “the world is beautiful and has so much offer, only if we learn to look beyond our ego”. Just a simple sentence and probably not spoken with any specific intent, but its latent profundity hit me. How true is it that even in our daily existence, we miss out on most of the beauty, because we are too concentrated on our narrow selves to notice. It is not our destiny that makes our existences small, but our ego and our inability to overcome it.
There were many such instances on this holiday, where I felt like a big-eyed first bencher, absorbing in abundance from the place and its people. The greatest proof of its success, however, was on the 5-hour flight back when I couldn’t sleep a wink, too excited to get back and start working on Joylogues with fresh passion and conviction.
For those, who don’t know much about the beginnings of Joylogues, do spend some time on My Journey Before the First Step