I have often been asked, why I like to travel or at times, quite disturbingly, why do I ‘want’ to travel. Pondering upon the need or the want of travelling, I have equally often replied, very vaguely, that I want to see the world, experience unknown cultures, explore different people, see the mystical lands and other such bleak statements depending upon the charm of the enquirer. I have also, to people who tend to argue on a presumed logical basis, pointed out that had it not been for travel, the human race would have probably died in Africa eons ago. Coming from a culture where the majority of the populace lives to get settled as soon as possible, I admit it is quite difficult to explain the wanderlust that is innate in the handful few.
Sitting in a lone cave, away from the conundrum of the human world, in the crisp breeze and surrounded by the intoxicating smell of moist earth, I find myself in complete serenity. I let my mind wander loose and it flies away down the memory lane. I find myself revisiting the ancient city of Lothal; the port of the Harappan civilisation. Sitting in the dockyard, I watch the ships cruising in the bay being unloaded and loaded again. A few meters away, I see the people preparing for lunch in the community kitchen; the stoves are being lit, utensils are being prepared and the chefs are oblivious to everything else around them. A multitude of people are going about their daily businesses: selling beautiful beaded jewelry, terracotta statues, wooden toys and stone utensils. I look around; the ships have been unloaded. Preparations have now begun to transport the load to the granaries. As the carts being to wheel away, I smell the moist earth again; I open my eyes and find myself back in my cave. Fourteen Hundred years before the birth of Christ; the ruins of Lothal had spoken so much. It had been enriching to have studied the civilisation that had existed as back as time could go.
My mind had set to wander away again. This time, I am closer to home; in the capital of the Vijayanagara Kingdom. I am one of the crowds that have set around the Vitthala Temple. The crowd is so large that I wonder if the ones thronging at the back would get to hear the melodies of Carnatic Music that is to be played this evening. The halls of the temple are supported by wide pillars; each pillar either perforated by a set of eight smaller pillars in the middle or ornamented with statues of dancers playing various Indian Classical percussion instruments. The ceiling is wide, and as the great ‘Tyagaraja’ begins his legendary feat, almost magically, his voice is echoed through the ceilings to last rung of the crowd that has gathered around. I am so lost in the beauty of his music, that I almost fail to notice the musicians striking at the smaller sets of pillars, and as they strike, sweet notes of the Jaltarang emanate from each one of them, striking perfectly each of the ‘sapta-sur’ (or, seven notes) of classical music. Enchanted by the almost mythical feat, my eye roves to the statues of the dancers; each one has a musician striking at the stone replicas of the instruments. To my utter bewilderment, each replica has the exact sound of that particular instrument coming out of each one of those statues. It is nothing short of miraculous. The rhythm has set in, the tempo is rising and as the music gradually turns into birds’ chirping in the golden dusk, I find myself back in that little abode I call cave. Hampi had made me marvel at those feats created ages back, in a time sans machines; a time when architecture was nothing but pure genius.
Throughout the evening and deeper into the night, in that little cave, my mind keeps wandering into different eras, ages and as I reminisce each of the places I have visited and all the trips I had made, I slowly understand all the lives that I have lived. Each place had given me a new story to wonder and new lessons to learn. The cultures I had experienced had allowed me to meet and explore new people and in turn, see the world through newer perspectives. And, with every new perspective that I had attained, my mind had broadened it’s spectrum. I had begun to fathom the laws of the universe. It had become easy to set the trivialities apart, to set the mind free of the chains it had been bound by, at birth. Wider thoughts had begun forming in my mind and it had become easy to understand the script of the play that we are all a part of.
As I traveled around, beyond my home, it dawned upon me that with every new place, every new culture and every new person I explored, I was in reality exploring myself bit-by-bit. And as I travel further, I grow sure that no place would ever be my home. After all home will be, where the heart will be!