For some, the point of travel is its sheer pointlessness. It is the lack of a pre-determined purpose which makes the whole thing worthwhile. It is like the Australian lecturer in a Chennai college who spent the best part of his first summer vacations in india going to a place called Nabadwip dham in rural Bengal and getting back from there. Asked why Nabadwip dham, he said he had been leafing through an atlas and had liked the sound of the name. Asked whether he had any company for the journey, he indicated his flute. Asked what he had done when he finally got to Nabadwip dham, he said he had looked at the sunset and played a tune on his flute.
But, then, carrying a flute is far simpler than carrying a portable fridge and walking round ireland, which is what an Irishman did just to win a bet. He not only did it but also got a book out of it, with both him and the fridge beaming triumphantly from the cover. The Australian who went to Nabadwip dham and back only got a magazine article out of it. There are some who’d say you have to be reasonably fit to walk round Ireland carrying a fridge, even a portable one which presumably operates on batteries. There are others who’d say that Nabadwip dham could give the unsuspecting traveller from down under the Delhi belly. All that is besides the point. Remember the song about the bear who climbed the mountain:
“And what do you think he saw?
He saw another mountain?
And what do you think he did?
He climbed the other mountain”.
If a bear can bear the pointlessness of pointless travel, so can we, could be one response. Jerome K Jerome and two others took off one summer down the thames and wrote it up in a book called three men in a boat. Remember Jerome was the one who said, “it is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do”. And what better way to idle than to snooze in a boat in the company of two others who can take turns not to work. A few decades ago, American airliner panam ran an advertising campaign on the theme “getting away from it all”. That, alas, was just about the time Marshall Mcluhan predicted in the medium is the message that the communications revolution would make the world a global village. You can no longer get away from the mobile and the idiot box even at Nabadwip dham.
[ TOI.Ed 3: thursday, october 18, 2001 ]