Sunday, November 22, 2009


Another interesting person I came in contact with at the travel forum was the travel author Rolf Potts who has pioneered and promoted the cause of "vagabonding" as he calls it. The term is used to describe long term foreign travel, travel not just for a vacation but travel as an end in itself. He stresses that chucking your day job and spending an extensive amount of time, months maybe years on the road need not be the preserve of the filthy rich and neurotics who are incapable of figuring out what else they can do.

Wanting to leave the rigours of a daily existence for a new place is not to make a mockery of those who lead it but an inner desire which must be fulfilled for certain individuals. It's an itch which must be scratched, for the sake of the individual and for the sake of the society he/she lives in. It is definitely not about cutting yourself off from all the chains of society but more about satisfying your inner curiosity so that you can understand your life and your world better. No 2 week package tour around the world can substitute for being alone in just a single foreign location, looking for work or a way to sustain yourself and the immense feeling of growth and adventure that it provides. It is essential to understand that neither are they fools who choose to live the conventional life they want to and neither are those who don't need that kind of a life. It's not a game of oneupmanship or spiritual superiority but more a case of letting each man go his own way.

This is pretty convincing coming from a man who taught English for 2 years in Korea to support his stay there, walked across Australia and has done a variety of odd jobs across the Middle East on his trek through that region of the world. When I told him that I was from India, he told of his experiences in Diu where people from the 'dry' state of Gujarat sneak into to get their fix of alcohol and assured me that even if there were only one country worth vagabonding through then it'd be India. "It's a continent you have there", he said "You could spend your lifetime there and not see enough of it." Coming from a foreigner from the American heartland of Kansas, that is hardly a surprising statement. Having spent 24 of my 25 years on its soils, I still feel that I've barely scratched its surface. Of all the complaints that impede my life and grandiose plans, not knowing where to start should no longer be an issue.

No comments: