Aesthetics, interactions, exploration, risks, and delays encompass the chief ingredients of travel. Together they produce not just memories to hold on to forever, but also unintended yet inevitable changes in one.
Travelling alone to Gangtok, Mumbai, Goa, Gokarna, and Bangalore this summer brought about many such modifications in me. The termini, however, paled in comparison to the trails. The first lesson, patience, came disguised as a rude shock at the old Delhi railway station, when the departures board read a significant six hour delay in my train. I was stuck in a place of absolute chaos, adorned with an aura of haste and voices calling out from every corner. But what surprised me more was that while I sat exasperated, fidgeting with my luggage, my fellow passengers were drenched in a nonchalant indifference.
It was here that I saw glimpses of what I would continue to encounter over the next few weeks; human kindness. Even in a situation of substantial hustle and bustle, people found ways to help each other. The poorest of the commuters were unhesitant in ordering tea for a stranger they had struck a conversation with. A traveller struggling with his luggage found in front of him several eager hands, ready to help. My journey on rails was filled with the instances of people coming to my aid, and smiles were a common occurrence. Sitting in Chandigarh, one tends to think that the big bad world is filled with big bad people, but a journey through India, with its never disappointing people, proves such presumptions erroneous. So, what followed was another change in my personality; a staunch sense of optimism.
Travel changes the way you look at your countrymen. They no longer seem like insignificant individuals in the masses, but like breathing cells of one great organism. I saw poor labourers extremely happy with a small amount of cut fruit and well to do professionals enjoying the same with them. It is doubtful whether this would happen at the destinations, but is sure to be found on the way.
When you travel alone, you get to know your strengths and weaknesses, and how efficiently you can cope with life. It changes the way you look at yourself and the world around you. It also changes your perspective of the world. Human joy and misery magnify, and so does your sensitivity towards them. Personally, it made me want to do something for my country and its people.
We as humans are a long way from being the best versions of ourselves. Travel a few miles someday, that is sure to shorten the distance.