Travel means different things to each of us. And each one of us likes to do it in our own ways. While I do relish the novelty of going to new places, enjoy the sight and the food, I have observed myself relishing the commonplace things. The most nondescript of temples, ones that are usually mentioned by someone I meet – an ‘autokaarar’ or a tea ‘master’. A trip to the cinema – and some of them in smaller towns can be much fun, with no ban on any number of vices. I suppose it is the people and their stories that interests me in such places. Many a times, I am an ‘immigrant’ as a dear friend calls me, at one of ‘those places‘ he recently wrote about. I particularly like these the best, because invariably one would find stories that are quite engrossing. From politics, to cinema, to social issues to live & personal lives, there can be an amazing variety and the nature of the commodity served here, makes it somewhat easy for people to speak. Not to mention for me to listen.
One of the best parts of my work is that it allows me to travel. My first trip outside of this country, was thanks to EZV. I thought I’d never forget the experience, given how excited I was. Before I knew it, I had been to multiple countries, something I would not have imagined doing otherwise. Even within India, I have been to different places in the country. From elite locales of South Delhi and Bangalore, to the humblest of towns in hinterland. The nature of our work is such that some of these places, we end up going back to time and again. Before we know, we’ve made friends with hoteliers, cabbies and whoever else. Like this flower vendor, who sits at this particular place in this historic city. She is a single mother of a grown up man, who I believe is mentally unwell & can not take care of himself, even his ablutions. Her husband deserted her years ago, and she takes care of her son and makes ends meet by selling flowers. From the very first time I met her, there is something about her that struck me strongly and I took an instant liking for her. It was the fact that despite all her travails, she would always greet me with the warmest smile, and she would always bless me thus –
மீனாட்சி உங்க கூட இருப்பா *
One of the reasons I look forward to going back to this particular city is because it gives me an opportunity to meet Rani. I am grateful for all the travel that my work affords me. For it is travel that has taught me that the joy isn’t in just what we experience, but how we choose to experience it.
* Meenakshi (the presiding Goddess of Madurai) shall be with you.