Travels of a Different Kind.

My dearest Komal, Anjli and Amar,

We have been fortunate to travel many corners of this earth. Many have still to be explored by one or all of us.

Remember though, beauty is everywhere. There is no need to travel to the extreme corners of the world to experience this beauty. Just watch Planet Earth with David Attenborough and enjoy the beauty of this planet from the comfort of your sofa! Planet Earth gives you a flavour of the natural world, but there are many more aspects of life to see around the globe. Discovering the world from your lounge is perhaps what this covid-19 pandemic is teaching us.

What I would like you to do in your next travels(whenever that might be!) is to soak up the culture of your destination and the history and evolution of that culture. Embrace the new atmosphere. Reading stories set in different corners of the world(fictional or non-fictional) will also enlighten you. Sometimes even more so than physically visiting the land. Give some thought to its past, an exercise that will give you an insight to its present state. Ascertain the influences of the past such as:

  • colonization,
  • wars,
  • neighboring influences,
  • religious impacts(Christianity, Islamism, or other),
  • influence of explorers
  • nationality of the explorers (Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, German?)

There have been many books that have inspired and influenced me in my travels. The poster below is only a small example of these influences.

A question you might want to ask yourselves, ‘How different would the world map be without ALL of these influences? ‘ How different would the ‘new’ country borders be?

Follow Charlotte on her ‘Diary of a Mzungu’ blog to inspire you to visit my birth place. Many parts of Africa have been influenced by Arabic culture, tribal warfare, and colonization among other factors.

Chimamanda has written many great novels and her brilliant TED talk gives us a glimpse of her thought process.

It pains me to think that I was born and brought up in the neighbouring country and was not aware of this haunting tale of Congo. Many countries around Congo have a flourishing trade in Safari tourism. Congo does not, as it is still trying to stabilise itself from the aftermath of King Leopold’s legacy.

We have all heard of the word Ghetto, so in your next ‘holiday’ ascertain the major constituents of any ghetto and find out the reasons behind that.

USA: The land of opportunity…..but for whom?

These are only a few of the books that explains the different aspects of any country. All these stories give you a flavour of the nature of the area and the mind set of its population. Story books also reveal the evolution of their present day culinary offerings. I add this fact here, as we are all huge foodies!

What books have made you want to visit a particular region and why?

These days lots more people have traveled worldwide. Many are aware of the cultural and environmental differences of the various corners of this world. I guess it is unlikely that the question,’Did you have lions and tigers roaming the streets?’ be hurled at you these days! It was thrown at me by my colleagues when, at the age of 17, I first started working as a Saturday girl! As you very well know, there are no tigers in Africa!

There are still many aspects of travel I have not mentioned here. One fascinating discovery for me was to see all the Hindu ruins in the most unlikely places(to my mind) on earth, such as Siem Reap, Cambodia and Myson Sanctuary, Vietnam. Discovering such gems on your travels mystically merges the past with the present. But what of the future? Are we going to be limited in our travels? Will we learn of the far corners of the world by reading and watching past documentaries only?

Questions, questions, questions? Any answers out there?

That should get you planning, reading, reminiscing……what?

Thinking of you all and waiting to be reunited after this long separation(વનવાસ), with all my love, hugs and kisses,

Yours Vishfully

Mum

2 thoughts on “Travels of a Different Kind.”

  1. Hi Mum,
    Thanks for this lovely letter, it’s making me long for the days of travel not only to explore the world, but to visit friends and family. Oh how we took it all for granted before 2020. Reflecting on my recent travels during business school, I realize I was lucky to go to incredible places with friends native to those countries who were able to gives us a more authentic experience. You’re totally right, understanding the history and culture of a place is the key to experiencing it fully. My trips to Korea, Japan, Lebanon and Egypt really emphasized that to me. Plus the food of course, it’s often the centerpiece of our travels haha, everything revolves around when and where our next meal will be!

    I’m excited to start reading Prisoners of Geography btw, especially after everything you’ve said about it. I also look forward to one day going to Uganda with you, hopefully in the not too distant future…maybe for our next family holiday?!

    Love,
    Anjli
    xxx

  2. Thanks mum for this lovely letter, great to see some excellent book choices on your list and a few more to inspire me to focus on my reading which has lagged in the last couple of months. Travelling, for me, is always enhanced by the research you do of the place before hand, allowing for a deeper understanding of a place. lots of love,Komal

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