Monday, April 20, 2009


I often dream of being a world traveller writing about places exotic and mundane. Join the "Travellers Century Club" (i.e people who have travelled to 100 or more countries), learn multiple foreign languages and be a citizen of the world so to speak - all components of the same delusion. However even in my dreams, a little nudge of reality mocks me when I think of two serious shortcomings of mine which seem nowhere close to resolution.

One would have to be my total failure at being a "foodie". If magazine articles and general job descriptions are anything to go by, having good gastronomic sense helps a lot in filling up half the length of any travel article. It'd be so tough to get a job paying me for travel given my general preference for water over Chardonnay and hot dogs over finely tuned gourmet fare. That practically knocks me out of competition for any 'civilized' country if you couple my abominable table manners and etiquette to my lack of appreciation for cooking finesse. Food is such an essential part of any travelogue and a very unique characteristic of any new location. Plus it is so difficult to retain the names and contents of exotic fare on the rare occasion that I have sampled them. In my short stay in the USA, I've sampled Vietnamese, Italian and Latin-American cuisine thanks to positive influences from my company but when it comes to recalling the names of the dishes it's like gazing into thick fog! And I couldn't really take on Jungle Jim assignments too, much as I'd love them. That's because my completely urban upbringing would leave me helpless and prone to death by starvation if left in the lap of Nature. Apparently, a lot of work remains to be done in this department. 

A much bigger grouse is my astoundingly bad road sense! I don't whether it is genetic (Credit to my mom) or to the fact that I've spent the formative years of my life in small towns with only one central road. All I can say is that it is hugely inadequate and that is the main reason I prefer to travel alone on my footloose adventures; so that I can circle the same path 3 times before realizing it is the same path! The names of streets in the USA with it's clearly marked corners have a very short range, being Lincoln, Washington, Cedar, Pleasant etc yet I have to put up an Herculean effort to remember these names (in the correct order that I had crossed them) when walking around. Once after 3 months working in Calcutta, I thought I had suddenly developed great road sense and was all confident and cocky. Later I'd find out that my direction markers were giant advertising billboards and every time they changed, it'd be a whole new city for me again! Heaven help me and my future travel magazine employer if I were in a city in Japan with all the signs in the local language, their incredibly difficult names and no English speakers around. I'd be stuck there forever and they'd probably have to sent a "Search and rescue" squad to help this reporter find his way back to his hotel.

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