We so often hear the phrase “Travel is the best form of Education”; unfortunately very few of us actually put that into practice. To most human beings, the concept of travel includes catching a flight or a train to some remote or exotic place where we could spend the next few days wandering about in a new location, mingling with strangers, and eating food that we are not generally used to.
One of the first things that we do begin to notice when we travel are the cultural differences from place to place. What may seem strange in your hometown is effortlessly accepted as a norm in another place. The smells are different, our palettes are offered a new variety of spices and flavors; the modes of transportation differ, and people behave differently.
Initially, we get caught up in the excitement and fail to notice the differences that we encounter almost all the while that we are travelling. But when the day has ended, we find ourselves taking stock of all that we have experienced, drawing comparisons between what we are used to and what we have learnt new, and it is a process that continues to repeat itself over and over again over the next few days, until it becomes part of our system.
Life in some cities really starts to come alive only after the sun has gone down, again a new learning for many of us who under normal circumstances would be getting ready for bed. The night lights transform the outlook of a city completely, and if you don’t make the effort to push yourself out of your comfort zone, you lose the opportunity to witness something truly magical.
A short trip from your hometown to the countryside could teach you so much about nature, something that you always took for granted. Being in the open you discover a sense of freedom, a calm that makes you want to wait there a little longer. A solitary tree keeps you company as the dark clouds rush across the backdrop of a hilly landscape. You have a feeling of peace that you have not experienced before.
Or could it be the smell of the earth as the rain comes down? It was a hot, humid day when we decided to visit the Juma Masjid in Delhi. Walking along the columns and arches of this magnificent structure, we admired the pink stone and the engraving that were part of this building, learnt about the efforts taken to make this building, and then as we descended the steps of the structure, the rain came down in torrents. For me, there is nothing like the smell of rain meeting the dry parched earth, filling it with hope.
Regardless of how we look at it, the lessons we learn, and the education that we get when we travel is priceless. We learn without the effort of being taught. Our awareness of the world, of people, culture and religion expand without us really becoming aware of it. And above all, it offers us a truly interesting and adventurous experience.