Thursday 24 January 2013

The Migrant Syndrome

The word ‘migrant’ mostly refers to a state where an individual is away from home for purpose of work and employment. Sometimes there are other border issues, which is not my focus of attention in this post. Thus a migrant is in a state of ‘unhome’ where he/she is away from the comfort and familiarity of the home and hearth. Of late, the word ‘migrant’ has been sporadically colouring newspapers and news in general. If an individual is away from his/her home does it also mean that there is a greater sense of recklessness and wanton abandon? We have also heard of the clichéd phrase, “home away from home” and so I would presume that the migrant leaves his/her natal home in search of greener pastures and adopts the new place as his/her home. When one adopts the new city/town as his/her home, then he/she is liable to behave in the new place as he/she would do in his/her natal or native place. But in many cases this does not seem to be the norm.

The new place is treated with callousness and a sense of foreign which cannot be like one’s home or even nearer to it. There comes a sense of freedom and independence which borders on the promiscuous and the unethical. Probably this is one reason why the migrants are seen with a certain disdain by some political parties. This attitude of the migrant also came about in many episodes in the recent past. I would like to highlight some incidents in Goa where the word ‘migrant’ has raised its ugly hood quite often in the recent past. There have been several crimes (read rape, molestation, kidnapping, murder) where the main suspects are perceived to be migrants who commit a crime and then escape. That a local person cannot commit a heinous crime in his/her own place is collective opinion of the police as well as the general public. But my question is, ‘Is the police trying to nail the migrant as a soft target thereby completely negating the hand of any others in the crime?’ No matter what crime takes place, the first comment is that “The hand of migrants is suspected.” I cannot tell whether the statement is a general one or a carefully investigated one.

Are migrants all that dangerous? Or are migrants of a particular class seen as dangerous? But the same migrants also belong somewhere. It would be interesting to observe their behavior in places where they have been born and brought up. There they aren't migrants or unhomed people. In their native place, they don’t have the tag of criminals or law-breakers. Is there something which goes wrong when one leaves the safe confines and familiarity of one’s home and family? Is there no sense of accountability in the new place which has willingly given them employment and shelter? After all, the host city/town has embraced their skill and given them a place to earn their livelihood which was unavailable in their home-town or village.

I don’t blame the police or the public in looking at a migrant worker with suspicion. At times, I also cannot stop having a certain feeling of doubt when I see someone who I can identify as a migrant. After the Delhi episode, I cannot but see every foreign looking construction worker/labourer/driver without thinking of the rape. I know that I am over-reacting but the incident has left me quite bitter and scared. I wonder if the same individuals would have done a brutal act if they were at home with members of their kith and kin. And this situation is not in India alone. There have been many such instances in many other parts of the world as well where migrants are not those who seek employment and sustenance alone but also those who cross porous borders and boundaries illegally and are known as refugees who are also in a state of unhome. There have been many studies along these lines but not many to prove that the state of being unhomed also leads to many criminal and wild activities. 

This post was a thinking aloud post. I would like to hear what you have to say on this issue. 

Image: Internet

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Whose space is it anyway?

I switch on the light. They respond as if they are ‘caught in the act.’  I wait for them to leave. They wait for me to leave. They are motionless. I don’t see them looking at me but I know that they can sense my presence.

This is MY house, I think but they don’t care. They never cared. Why should they care? They are not like me living in A particular space with marked boundaries. They live wherever they can find an environment that is conducive for food and reproduction. After all, unlike me they don’t need different rooms, utensils, clothes and other stuff. All that they need is filth, wetness and leftover food left carelessly by me in nondescript places.

I am not scared of them. I never was. But the feeling of them on me is quite icky and unpleasant. I would never want them on me even for a second. Of course, I revere my body as I do my space. Whenever I spot them on and off ‘the act,’ I imagine them climbing on my limbs. I cringe. I imagine a bit too much. I have dwelled on this thought of imagining something and actually feeling something. Sometimes, both are the same. Sometimes, the actual is never experienced, so certain things exist only in the imagination. The invaders’ tale is also similar. Whenever I spot the invaders of ‘my space,’ my mind is on a high-alert imagination mode. I stand there transfixed imagining and looking – looking and imagining. The invaders mirror my action. They remain there motionless. I have half a mind to spray that pesticide which is lying unused (I think that pesticides are unhealthy for the air which circulates inside the house thus putting the family in danger!). Then? Do I kill them and feel queasy about the white blood that gushes out? I do neither. I will and cannot bring an uneasiness to my sight and smell. I leave the spot and allow the invaders to continue their (k)nightly rendezvous.

The next day, I google, “Natural and chemical-free way to get rid of roaches.” As always, Google gives me the answers but I’m yet to try them on the invaders of my house and space. In the meanwhile, I thought I would write a post and in the corner of my eye, I can spot a stealthy movement. I know that I’m being watched.

Cockroach problem, dear readers?      

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Saturday 19 January 2013

Spotting grey and spouting philosophy!

It is interesting to observe the various emotional dilly-dalliances after the first grey is spotted. Thanks to the increased rate of pollution, exposure to the harsh rays of the sun coupled with a lot of tampering of food products, the greys appear at mid-twenties and early thirties much to our chagrin while the generation of our parents and grandparents dodged them quite efficiently until their early fifties or so. I spotted mine couple of years ago, say two or three years ago one sunny morning when my sister was playing with my lose tresses when she exclaimed, “Oh! Vella mudi! (Oh! Grey hair!) Me being the philosophical and academic tried not to make much ado about the grey spoke in muted tones, “Maybe the sun is shining a little too brightly!” but my sister being the sharp-witted one she is, did not give up. Right there, she plucked out the strand and gave it in my hand. I had to believe it then.

It is interesting to observe the responses or rather reactions to the first grey – The thought of growing old first comes to the mind, followed by the aesthetic aspect – denial of growing older and then the pseudo-dismissal that age is after all a number. No matter how much one philosophies about age being just a number, the fact that that number is steadily increasing never leaves the mind.

No matter what King Solomon wrote in the Proverbs about grey hair being a crown of splendour, the fact remains that one can never completely come to terms with the first few greys. King Solomon made the grave mistake of not adding a number when he mentioned “grey.” He was a wise man after all and he would have foreseen that the average life-span would decrease by and by and hence they greys would appear at any given time. But while reading the Proverbs, grey always meant anything grand (read grandfather, grandmother, granduncle and so on) but when the same grey is spotted on my crown, it is anything but grand.

Speaking of grand and grey, I realize that in no matter of time the appearance of greys will become quite a familiar phenomenon. The greys appear; I pluck them out and smile smugly at the thought of having defeated age. I know that the victory will be short-lived but I am like King Bruce who tried and tried to defeat the defeat before the defeat defeats you!

Recollecting that I am the same person who vociferously stated in her passionate feminist College days that “I don’t know why people colour their hair. After all grey hair signifies wisdom” makes me cringe with a sense of having judged people at the prime of my dark hair days. Even now you cannot spot the greys until you hunt for them but I write this post as a remainder for the coming days of wisdom and age and of course plenty of greys.

So, wise readers of this blog, tell me what you think of these shades of grey ;)

Image 2: Internet

Saturday 12 January 2013

Promises shrouded by Procrastination!

Finally, I have accepted the fact that I can turn the most promising tasks into undone tasks due to my supreme power of procrastination. Since I have chosen to be aware of everything I do, I realise that I tend to procrastinate more than I think I do. On the same note, I realise that I also make lofty promises to myself and regrettably wallow away at the end of the day mulling over my procrastination. My state is something that can be easily reversed but sadly I delay even that process.

Every morning I wake up with a smile and a tune and mentally make note of the tasks for the day. All is well. I prepare breakfast, check my mail, see my husband off and promise myself that after a few minutes of Facebook, I will work on that incomplete paper for our forthcoming book. I smile that I can manage things well not realising that Facebook has already plotted for my time and energy. The few minutes of Facebook suddenly leads me into the kitchen for preparing lunch. What!!!! have I been so long whiling away precious time? The great procrastination pushes its hood slyly and remarks, "Well, I can start that paper after lunch." But after lunch, the body demands its siesta. The rest is history.

I can be surprised that after years of knowing my weaknesses, I can still ignore that warning within me rather tactfully. In the evening while my mind wanders in the direction of the unwritten paper while doing the rounds of our evening walk, I dismiss the thought by a mere, "I was quite busy." If you would've noticed, I wasn't busy as I assume I am but rather not prioritising my day. And, at the right time the Universe, as always gives me a message through MindBodyGreen in the form of an article: How to Stop Saying "I don't have enough time to exercise." Inspite of this article talking about exercise, it holds good for every other activity.

I guess it's time to rip the shroud of procrastination. Wish me luck and positivity.

So, what do you think?


Wednesday 9 January 2013

Love in the light of the lamp

Last night when we came back to our campus after seeing off some relatives at Madgaon railway station, it was about 00: 00 am. At that time, the various stone benches dotting the campus were filled with love-struck  pairs who were quite occupied with their respective beaus. The sight was lovely! The thought that these love-birds could have their private moments at mid-night was a liberating one. In most campuses, the security pounces on these young ones and orders them to their hostels at about 8 or 9 pm but here, there were no such restrictions. Theirs were the stone benches and the lovely young night. The scene brought to my mind the whole thought of love-stories. Most of us love listening to love stories. It gives a voyeuristic peep into another individual's life and also gives us fodder for future situations, in some cases, imaginations.

I remember as teen-aged girls we loved pestering our senior friends for their love-stories. And as always, the seniors blushed, blinked, became thoughtful or rather lost in thought and began by saying, "Our story is not like those films you see. It is a very simple and straight-forward one."  We nodded and forgot ourselves while we listened with rapt attention the account of the first meeting not even swallowing our saliva and travelled with them as they travelled in their minds. When the senior remarked about the first touch, our skins tingled and we blushed and wondered about the many films we saw replaying the scenes over and over in our heads until we grew sick with love for a non-existent guy and then when we heard the senior say, "He finally told me those three words," we would demand, "How, how did he say it?" Another blink, another blush and then the story ended. We sighed, "So many years, you've been going around?" and finally the stories lost appeal. Reality beckons and we masticate those words that so completely thrilled and fascinated us.

As we grew up, the realisation that the love in films is different from the love in real life hit us hard but still we liked to listen to love-stories. Then we fell in and out of love and were proud individuals who now had our own love-stories to narrate to eager teens and students. Many parts were modified and censored but the story never lost its charm.

I am now married and have heard many many love-stories but still when I saw those young students sitting on the stone benches with bodies closely touching the other's and hands clasped, I wanted to go and ask them their love-stories.

Do you like listening to love-stories by the moonlight?

Leaving you with a lovely song by Andy Williams who recently passed on.

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Thoughts on bathing/showering everyday

Bathing and cleanliness is overrated in today's world. Many times I've pondered on the issue of bathing - whether it is mandatory to bathe everyday or the media is promoting bathing just for marketing expensive bathing soaps, body-washes and after bath moisturizers and lotions. Well, in winters atleast one can skip the routine of bathing for two to three days. The kindergarten's over emphasis on "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" is etched on the collective minds of parents and children so that a normal day without bathing is seen as an extreme form of ungodliness. By 'normal,' I mean the days when one is not unwell and completely indisposed to the usual routine of everyday.

Bathing everyday, I think is a recent phenomena. If one types 'bathing' and searches for information, Wikipedia tells us how bathing began to be seen differently in the early 19th century when it was felt that frequent bathing might lead to better health. I also remember studying about the common baths of yore where bathing was a community affair which was more for coming together and enjoying some good time in the water and also cleansing and washing the body. But taking a look at today's scenario, it seems that bathing has become something of a mandatory ritual without which one becomes a social out-caste. But this bathing I am talking about is relevant in the context of only a certain section of the mainstream society and is not homogenous for everyone.

Talking of bathing, many tourists (not a sweeping general statement, please) I have known and observed don't bathe when they are travelling. They do it only in extreme conditions where they know they are filthy and stink. I think that is a better way of going about life. In summers, I know that even bathing two times does not suffice but in winters one can refrain from the conditioning of routine. But for most of us bathing is a psychological factor rather than a real one. The mind refuses to believe that the body is clean without the simple act of water over our bodies. But one can save water and precious time when one decided to go without bathing in winter.

Clean clothes always can make up for the no bathing days. As for hygiene matters, one can definitely get by without the myth of having to bathe daily. But for those who sweat excessively and have body-odour, bathing becomes a necessity rather than an aesthetic mandatory necessity.

So, the verdict is "If you can stand it socially, you can probably get by hygienically," according to Science magazine.

I've gone for about three days without bathing. I don't smell and I feel well. What about you? Still hung-up on feeling clean and good only with a bath/shower. Well, . . .

Postscript: The Indian bathing is the Western showering. Please don't confuse that bathing refers to bathing in large egg-shaped tubs with scented jasmine oil. Many houses in India have a simple bathroom which has a shower and taps and of course, buckets and mugs :) Whatever the size of the bathrooms, whether showering or bathing, the point is about bathing everyday.

Image 1: Internet

Sunday 6 January 2013

Yellowed uninvited memories

For the past four days or so, I've been unwell, lying down all the time albeit with a few breaks for eating, using the internet and the toilet. I don't know whether it is my illness of my acute ability to meander, my mind has been visiting uninvited memories criss-crossing by-lanes and routes that have been rarely visited. I travelled in roads that did not intersect the main highways of memories or rather in seemingly familiar paths that were there but seldom explored. Yellowed corners where my father was smiling at me while the radio played a tune that I have never heard thus far. While the tune was lingering, I was led into a dark corner of my childhood where the smells were of different sweets of pale white and brown colours. The flavours were exotic and while the tongue relished the subtle unknown flavours, my crush appeared from somewhere taking my hand and leading me through lanes that I have known only in my adulthood. How can a lane from adulthood be known to a crush who was in the pre-adulthood days? Do memories become coagulated and mangled when the body is ill, I wonder.

But being sick also means that there is nothing to stop the meandering mind - the memories flow while awake and transform into dreams after sleep enfolds the senses. When I awake at odd times to find everything dark and cold, I always get the feeling of having time-travelled into a zone which can never be completely recollected nor relished. People I haven't met, emotions I have not accosted with known people, incidents that never have been in my mind surface out of the crevices of the innermost depths. Sometimes I feel hunger - the hunger is part of the yellowed memories; I yearn to eat tandoori chicken and the green mint chutney. I wake thinking of the taste of the green chutney but in reality I have no appetite. The sight of food appalls me.

The dusty and unexplored parts of my memory is tickled when sick

Today I feel a bit better. I have regained a fraction of my lost appetite but tandoori chicken is not what I want.

So, do you travel so while lying ill in your bed? We all love travelling, don't we?

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Sachin Dev's

Wednesday 2 January 2013

The Journey - A Conversational Post

Starting this year, I am embarking on a new series called Conversational Posts, which will feature once in two months. I invite two bloggers to converse with one another and me. Based on a theme, the two bloggers will have a conversation with me. The theme for today’s Conversational Post is Journey and the two bloggers who set the wheels rolling for the inaugural edition are Corinne from Everyday Gyaan and AJ Poliquit from The Transcendental Tourist. If you ask me why the theme ‘journey,’ then I will have to tell you that both Corinne and AJ discuss journeys on their blogs; the former, a metaphorical journey of the self and the latter, a literal journey of the self. So, here we go:

Susan Deborah (hereafter, SD): Describe your blog.

Corinne Rodrigues (hereafter, CR): My blog is a reflection of my own search towards living an inspired and holistic life - every day.

AJ Poliquit (hereafter, AJ): The Transcendental Tourist is a mom-and-pop travel blog. It does not aspire to be more than a repository of my travel memories and epiphanies. My blog is a diary of my life journey disguised as a travel blog.

SD: You say that the blog is a diary of your life journey - but isn't travel only a part of the journey of life?

AJ: - That's true. But a part can give a glimpse of the whole; I'm not audacious enough to allow full disclosure of my life in the net, haha! With my blog, I aim to present life - my life - as a (literal and literary) journey. It encompasses life experiences that have shaped who I am, that I have learned from, that have enriched my life. I concede, though, that there are experiences outside of travel that I want to write about; that's why I keep a separate folder of non-travel posts in my blog.

AJ to CR: I think that is the search of every human being, whether they are aware of it or not. It is commendable that you develop such consciousness and that you share your life journey with others through your blog.

CR: Thanks, AJ. Yes, I do believe that our blogging is an attempt to reach out to others with our ideas, thoughts or information. In my case, I want to share experiences and see how this resonates with others.
SD: What does a journey mean to you?

CR: A journey is always an adventure - you don't know who or what you are going to encounter. I like to be prepared for my journeys but I also like to be surprised.
AJ: Journey means movement, and movement is freedom.
SD: What about rootedness then? Our forefather never travelled as much, didn't they have freedom. And by freedom, what freedom do you mean - mental, physical? Please elaborate on this 'freedom.' 
AJ: Yes, freedom is not only physical. Freedom can be indulging our capacity to dream. Case in point, my maternal grandfather. He was born in the mountains. You wouldn't think he could get any further than the nearest town which was accessible by crossing 2 rivers on foot. Yet, he walked those miles to attend school. As a teenager, he boarded a steamship to America, worked on canneries in Alaska to save up for his education. He eventually put himself to school in Oregon until he got to theological school in Massachusetts. He's the epitome of freedom of body and the human spirit. I hope to write part of his story, or journey, soon.
AJ to CR: True that. What are some of the memorable surprises that you have encountered in your travels? How do they account for living an inspired and holistic life?
CR: Funny that you should ask that, AJ. My most memorable surprise was my the celebration of my birthday in Manila. I had gone for a three week training and the organizers found that it was my birthday. The celebrations started right after Sunday Mass and continued right up to dinner where I was brought a cake by the restaurant waiters singing 'Happy Birthday'. That whole trip taught me the value of relationships and keeping things real.

SD:  How do you describe a journey that does not nave the literal element of journey - a travel, for instance?

CR: There are various kinds of journeys - I often undertake journeys via books and blogs without having to leave my desk.
AJ: I do see life as a journey. We are all at different points in our life journey. Memories are landmarks of the past; they represent particular places in my life, usually forks on the road, that have led me to choose my present path. My literal journeys (trips) are just part of this cosmic journey - the bigger scheme of things, as they say.

AJ to CR: You have said that a journey is an adventure. Does that also reflect your choice of reading materials? Do they count for armchair traveling for you?

CR: I love reading fiction. I can truly say that I got a broad understanding of life and customs of many countries via the stories I read that were based in them. For example, my aunt used to visit Ireland often when she lived in the UK. She brought back with her many story books set in Ireland. I have yet to visit Ireland but my vast reading of stories set in that country makes me feel I'm part Irish! ;)  I listen to Celtic music a lot and am totally besotted with the Irish accent.
SD:  What does travel do to you in the literal and figurative sense?

CR: It widens my mind as it often helps me see things from a new perspective. Many times I learn new things about a culture or a people. Often I make new friends on my travel and that also helps my world to get bigger.

AJ to CR: - My thoughts exactly.

AJ: Traveling is a heightened experience. Literally, it stimulates the senses. The strange sights, smells, sounds, and tastes arouse the senses that may have been tempered by the familiarity of home. Figuratively, it engages the mind and spirit to discover another world and another time. A cultural experience occurs in the soul; it connects humanity and history through common threads in the quilt of diversity. It is more than a tangier taste or a colder climate.

SD: “Cultural experience of the soul” is an interesting way of seeing travel. Tell me your experience of the very first travel you undertook. Do you remember it vividly? Was it a liberating experience?

AJ: I've always traveled as far back as I can remember. Weekend trips to our sugarcane farm in the countryside comprise a huge chunk of my childhood memories. My first trip overseas was a cross-country tour through the US and Canada with my mother. She begged the grade school principal to allow me to be absent for three months, citing that travel is the best teacher. The principal believed her and I did too - that trip shaped so much how I see travel, that it isn't just a physical change of location, but a way to expand the horizons of the mind and soul. I vividly remember our first night in San Francisco. Our host family received us at almost midnight and served us rye bread. To me it had the sting of medicine, but my mother urged me to eat it anyway out of politeness. The hospitality was familiar, but the way it was given was not. It was my first taste (literally, haha!) of the sameness of humanity and the diversity of culture. 

SD:  Do you think that a journey is possible only when you have a firm starting point, i. e. the home?

CR: I do think it's important to have a place to come back to. But then sometimes it's good to let it all go and find your 'home' within yourself.

AJ: Journeys are cyclical. As such, they do not begin and end at a place. In another sense, they are points in a continuum. Even in my blog, I seldom describe my trips by starting at the airport or stating the time I left the bus terminal. It could start from a childhood experience that would eventually lead me to a place in the present. It may then form a link to a future journey. Life, after all, is one journey that does not begin at birth and end at death (but that's just me, hehe). 

SD: Quite profound thoughts here, AJ. But what is the role of the home in all these endeavours? No matter how cyclical the journeys are, don't they begin at home - the place where you are rooted?

AJ: What I wanted to highlight was the connectedness of experience. Life, to me, is an interwoven fabric. I don't see beginnings and endings as such, but more like transitions and gradations. One phase leads to another, building a life little by little. I guess this concept stems from the fact that I've not lived in a house of my own since I was 10. We've always moved, just renting here and there. I've never felt rooted in a place, but I do feel rooted to people, to relationships. 

AJ to CR: - I second that. I do think the concept of home is not dependent on a place. It is really a heart matter more than anything else. However, do you feel a sense of rootedness to a place (where you start and end a journey)? Why is it important to go back to this place?

CR: I think it's important to go back 'home' to see how far you've traveled and what you've learned on the way.

SD: When you can sit at home and travel virtually via the internet, why do you need to have a literal journey at all?

CR: Nothing compares to the actual journey - the preparation, the excitement, the sights, smells and sounds of the travel and the discoveries in the new place.

AJ: I think it's human nature to travel. Just as other creatures we share the world with, humans are ambulatory. Even our ancestors from thousands of years ago were nomadic. With none of our modern modes of transportation, ancient humans crossed continents and even took to the seas. We are made to roam the earth!

SD: But many humans don't travel, AJ. Only a minuscule percentage who have the time and money. The rest are content to be home in their limited circle of life, family and friends. Ancient humans roamed the earth in search of food, habitation and other essential things but the modern man's (almost) travel is something for pleasure and knowledge. Don't you think?

AJ: Modern people travel to seek greener pastures. I take that as roaming the earth in search of food and habitation in a modern sense. I think people travel to seek something for themselves, may it be pleasure (richness of experience) or survival. I also consider my daily train trips to my workplace in the city next door as a journey, as much as any of my overseas trips. I also know someone who has hardly traveled away from her hometown, but the glimmer in her eyes when she listens to her cousins' stories of the places they have been betray a hint of wanderlust.

AJ to CR: Agree as well. An appreciation of life can heighten the pleasures and agonies of traveling and getting a broader, first-hand experience of the human condition. How do these experiences help you achieve a holistic life?

CR: I think all my journeys have given me a much broader perspective to life - I see that life has to consist of intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical growth. We cannot afford to focus on one area at the cost of others. I recall learning faith from watching pious Hindus braving heavy rain and unimaginable crowds to take a dip in the Ganges on the most auspicious day of a Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. I remember learning to appreciate the variety and beauty of dance forms by watching a display of Samba in Hong Kong. I smile when I think about learning to enjoy good food and delight in it in the Philippines . . .
SD: In the process of your journey, how do you think you make a difference in the lives of other fellow travellers?

CR: Thoughtfulness and courtesy can go a long way in our journey - whether we travel or we don't. A sensitivity to other people allows us to learn from other cultures and not stamp on any toes!
AJ: I'm usually the flexible one in a group of travelers. Anything goes with me so long as we travel responsibly. I go by my motto: "A trip need not be perfect, just personal." I focus on how a place - any place, or perhaps I should say, experience - can enrich my life rather than simply checking off an itinerary list or even a bucket list (which I don't have). 

SD: Smiles

AJ to CR: What are instances of paradigm shifting cultural experiences have you had in your travels?

CR: I can give you a simple example of learning to walk on one side of the staircase in a crowded Hong Kong MTR station. I'm left handed and tend to go in a different direction than most other 'normal' people. It was the polite stares that taught me to be more sensitive :).
SD: What happens after the journey is completed and you get back home?

CR: I am often glad to be back home to the familiar. But the memories of my journey linger with me via pictures and people and some of the artifacts I pick up from the places I visit.

AJ: A journey is really never completed. It just takes on a different form - as a memory I go back to in the present, as building blocks to future journeys, as a life experience. All of my journeys are connected in one way or another, directing me to the path I presently take. 

SD: You seem to dwell a lot on the future when it comes to journeys, have you planned a lot of travelling in the next year?

AJ: Ironically, I'm bad at organizing. I look forward to the future, but not in a concrete way. Many of my trips are borderline spontaneous. Next Feb I hope to be in Nepal, but true to character, I have not really sat down to even check where I'd stay. Nepal, though, seems a logical place to continue the path that has already led me to Angkor Wat and Borobudur. There goes the connectedness again. :)  

AJ to CR: Memories are part of the building blocks of our lives, but how do they add up to who you are in the present? Do they influence a potential path that you take in life?

CR: I do believe that all my memories have made me realize that people are essentially the same all the world over. My early interaction with a variety of people helped me to be at ease with most people.

SD: Does the comfort and warmth of the home play a role in your journey?

CR: Yes, sometimes it's hard not to compare places with home. But having lived the life of a wanderer as an Army brat, I learned early to adapt to wherever I am.
AJ: The sensuous assault by being exposed to an unfamiliar culture and climate does merit longing for the hearth of home where we can rest on familiar ground. That's not to say that I always long for home when I travel. Cliche as it is, home is where the heart is, and when I'm on the road with people I love, I've never really left home. That's why I prefer traveling with my family. I become a turtle walking around with its home on its back! :)
SD: If 'home is where the heart is,' then what about the place? Doesn't the place of your ancestors matter when talking about home? People do make a home but what role does the place play?

AJ: I consider hometowns and birthdates as part of the accident of birth. We don't choose where and when we will be born. As such, I am fascinated at how the places where people were born or live form a part of who they are. The houses and objects and customs therein are catalysts for triggering memories, for discovering histories, for exploring personalities. I regard my family's ancestral house in such a way. It has helped me know the kind of people my ancestors were.

AJ to CR: Do you find yourself focusing more on the differences or similarities of places you visit and your home? Which weighs more to you? 
CR: I tend to focus on the similarities to make myself feel more at home.

SD: Do you think that the lived experience at home is always in the background of your journey and foregrounds what you experience in the journey?

CR: It would be difficult not to have my personal experiences of home and life influence my journey. However, I do believe that every journey is different - even if it is to the same place. Without an open mind, one cannot undertake travel or the journey of life successfully.

AJ: I don't think any traveler can claim to be a tabula rasa. Just as we try to understand where the locals of a place are "coming from," we should also understand that in ourselves. It makes the experience a uniquely personal one. 

SD: Quite rightly said.

AJ to CR: Amen to that! :)   

Postscript: I must thank AJ and Corinne who willingly obliged to be a part of this post. I must admit that this was a time-consuming exercise where mails were sent back and forth between the three of us. It not for the patience and generosity of spending time of Corinne and AJ, this post would not have seen the light of day.
If (inspite of everything mentioned above) you would like to be featured in a Conversational Post with me, please do write to me at

All photographs in this post are Sachindev's, a friend and artist. Check out his photographs here.


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