“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page,” remarked St. Augustine and he cannot be truer. On Saturday and Sunday, I had the good fortune of travelling through some places where the river Kaveri flows - the Delta regions. These places are in the news off late and among these disturbances, we travelled to some of these beautiful places where the water runs its course. This post will not not talk about the itinerary of the trip but will rather reflect on what travel actually does to the body and mind. It is common knowledge that going to a new place gives new perspectives and rejenuvates the senses. Is it the new place/people/air and the effect of a non-routine that gives the romance to travelling? The last two days I witnessed water and so much water along with the special flora and fauna that is peculiar to those places. I accompanied a group of students on their study-trip. These were the same students that I had taught last year and whose ways I was practically familiar with. But what happens in a trip is that one spends so much time with the same students in a different environment that they seem to be different individuals with diverse hues of personality shades. I could relate to every one of them in ways I hadn't done so before and there was a reckless spirit of abandon that one could not see in enclosed classroom walls. I wonder how new places bring newer aspects of old things and individuals.
When we returned from the trip, a former colleague commented, "You are visiting the Delta when there are so many problems. Water is a problem and there is no water. And if there is no water, the Delta regions disappear." His thoughts were genuine but just because there are problems in the region, shouldn't there be a study tour? For this precise reason, I cannot be an activist. I am aware of the problems faced by people but somehow carrying placards and marching the streets is not my metier.
The visit to the head of the rivers, Vettar and Vennar in Thenperambur was quite an experience. The water regulators were in action and it was just amazing to be there, hear the sound of the force of water, watch the multitude of fishes frolicking in the water and observe the birds esp cormorant, lesser pied kingfisher and heron swooping down to catch the fish. I could watch on forever. The students went mad when they beheld such beauty and were feverishly clicking away hoping to freeze memories which could be relished in the years to come. Normally, I would have detested the sounds of cameras (mobiles/SLRs/digital ones) for I would see them as interfering with my moments of bliss but as years are added to my existence, I realise that gathering memories is as vital as preserving them. These captured memories will later translate into stories and lived experience and no matter what they will remain etched. I also did my share of capturing memories through my modest phone.
Walking by the Bay of Bengal after visiting Poompuhar and imagining how the river Kaveri would have flowed then and how trade would have flourished along the coastal areas transported me to a place centuries ago. I imagined me then as a resident of Puhar and belonging to the fishing community whose breath was salty and talk fishy (!!!). Some students were in deep contemplation. Perhaps they were also in the city of ancient Puhar bargaining the prices of fish and haranguing about the thrifty buyers!
Gradually, in the course of the journey, I began adding pages to my book of life as I learnt about the flora, fauna, trade, water regulating systems, rituals and other details of the places we visited. The sound of the gushing waters still echo in my ears and have added to my years. It was a lovely weekend, indeed.
While still recovering from the trip of the weekend, we have another trip planned for the next week to the north-eastern India for a conference. I will be away for two weeks, or so. Keep me in your thoughts as I present my paper. I will carry you with me as I sojourn the lovely terrains of the north-east. Be well. Be happy.
What does travel do to your spirits and body? I will be glad to read about your thoughts.
Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet
Image 3: Internet