Travel in India – A Journey Called Life

To travel is to willfully leap into the unknown – to give up the secured confines of home and wander into the exigencies of the world. This is true whether one journeys from home to a nearby town to see an event, or lose oneself in the sights and smells of a ‘Mela’ (fair), or to another continent in search of work. Over time, the world and its moralities seep into our lives and into our hearts. In doing so we come closer, howsoever marginally; to becoming – as the Greek philosopher Diogenes first called himself – a “citizen of the world”.

Predictably, travel arouses a swirl of responses in us. The world can either repel or inspire us in its reflections. But for a majority of travelers, travel forces their minds to think, to adapt, to reevaluate the prejudices and to gauge the responses in ways far removed from what they have been perceived to view. Travel in short is learning while on the move.

For many like me, the journey is always the destination – the essence of the short trip or the long journey always lies in the million ‘Chai’ (Tea) stops, the smiles or gurgling laughter of a baby, those impromptu romances between co-teen travelers, a lazy cow lying in the middle of the road and refusing to move, or a sudden downpour that hits the window panes and reduces the visibility to just a thin streak of light of a vehicle in the distance, in watching the green canopy of trees that welcomes every thoroughfarer with their arch, in washing my face and feet at a small gushing stream, in watching the outline of a small hillock from the distance, and sometimes, in just doing and thinking nothing at all…

Predictably, the idea of India as a traveler’s paradise – whether as a geographical or cultural space – is increasingly distorted in the minds of many. Many perceive travelling as the kind they see in Bollywood movies while the more privileged know more about Dubai or Venice than they do say about Bhubaneshwar or Shillong. Many parts of India are virtually foreign to many young minds, though no real fault of theirs. Who wants to ‘think’ about a Nizamabad when there is a jet plane taking off to Singapore? Our collective consciousness is slowly getting fragmented along the comfortable lines of global travel than the rustic feel of one’s soil.

Should this matter? Yes.

In a heterogeneous democracy like ours, where resources and geographies are vastly varied, where peoples, cultures, food, language change with every district – it is paramount that we see past our immediate environs. Our collective challenge is then — how do we offer, to the generations of Indians to recognize our collective destiny? Our soil and its manifold beauties. Lester Pearson, the late Canadian Prime Minister, said in his Nobel Peace Prize Lecture: “How can there be peace without people understanding each other, and how can this be if they don’t know each other?” To him, and to all of us, knowledge of the other was to simplify, to get past the banal and to learn to treat each individual according to their character. And the best way to do this is to travel. To explicitly encourage personal explorations within India and make India more accessible.

Take in Offbeat Johannesburg in Your South Africa Travel Plans This Summer

To locals, Johannesburg, the largest city of South Africa, is endearingly Joburg or Jozi; and when you are done with your visit to this teeming metropolitan town, there is likely to be a little endearment or two you have in mind for this place yourself.

Johannesburg is a vibrant city of great extremes. It has deep roots in European culture as well as African culture; there is business, culture and art of the highest order in its old world atmosphere and its glittering skyscrapers; and there are miles of shantytowns, traffic that knows no laws, and people, people everywhere. The city is home to some of the worst apartheid atrocities ever known of; and it is the home of an inspiring freedom struggle.

When you visit South Africa, travel to Johannesburg has to be the highlight of your trip; the city may be a bit dangerous in some of its seedier areas, but most of the places you would want to venture to are pretty great.

Let’s cover some of Jozi’s best offbeat attractions in pubs and restaurants, art galleries and everything else. Let’s start with Arts on Main, an exciting bunch of shops, all hidden away in a reclaimed warehouse right in the center of the city. The whole enterprise is a part of the city’s plans to take advantage of the history that the city possesses. There are galleries and little bohemian shops by the dozen that should easily take up a couple of hours spent exploring. Check out http://www.Artsonmain.co.za for details.

If you want a piece of history for your South Africa travel plans this time, try the Market Theater, otherwise known as the Theater of the Struggle. During apartheid times, the theater’s management felt that art could have a great contribution to make to the country’s political struggle, and frequently put up shows that challenged the government’s policies. A visit there today, and you’ll see some of the best that South Africa’s arts and music scene has to offer. Check out http://www.Markettheatre.co.za for details.

Keeping with the apartheid theme, how about a trip out to the suburb of Soweto, a massive place that all blacks in Johannesburg were forced to leave for each evening in the apartheid era, after their work in the city was done? Soweto featured prominently in the country’s freedom struggle, and is home to hundreds of thousands black South Africans. Things aren’t as desperate around here as they once were. The economy in Soweto is booming, and the energy in the air is palpable. It would have to be, what with two Nobel Peace Prize winners living there, on the same street (Vilakazi Street) no less. What South Africa travel plan would be complete without a visit to Nelson Mandela’s home (converted into a museum now)? For a little authentic Soweto cuisine, try the Nambitha Eatery, the Sakhumzi Restaurant and Wandies Place. You could be in for a treat with ox tail stew and other South African delicacies.

If you truly want to get in touch with the earth in South Africa, travel to the world heritage site of the Cradle of Humankind. It’s just a half-hour’s drive outside the city, and here you will find stunning exhibits of exactly where it is that the human race came from. The Sterkfontein Caves are a part of the tour, and they contain the oldest fossils of pre-Homosapien primates ever found. Or how about trying the site of one of the lustiest gold rushes ever, the Old Kromdraai Gold Mine?

Nobel Prize For Literature and a Poetry Book For the Ages

Why is it that Russian writers are so good at their trade? Some say that living in the Soviet Union as a good communist in the past has been quite trying at times and thus, they believe that it is this level of adversity that drives the strong character, and wisdom that embodies and enables these writers to excel. This does make sense and because there are so many, that must indeed have to be at least part of the equation.

Poetry, especially good poetry is a treat to read, it makes you think and consider all that is, it drives creativity, emotion, passion and thought. If this is why you read or write poetry and this too is part of your life’s philosophy, then perhaps, I might be so bold as to recommend one of the greatest poetry collections available. This is a book I own personally and have gotten much insight from. I hereby recommend this poetry collection to you:

“The Poems of Doctor Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak; Hallmark Editions, Kansas City, Missouri; 1967

Although this was written in 1967, these poems are timeless and beautiful and indeed some of the best poetry I have had the chance to ever read. This book is also wonderfully illustrated by none other than Mr. Bill Greer, which is quite a treat indeed.

As you know if you are a scholarly type of fine literature, Boris Pasternak won a noble prize in literature for his famous novel in 1958, yet, he never traveled to retrieve the prize. Had he done so he would not have been allowed to return to the country he loved. I hope you will add this book to your poetry collection shelf.