By Kamalini Natesan
Wanderlust and a hunger for people and places is what spurs the author on unceasingly
Over the years, as an avid traveller, I have been to many harbours, mostly unmerited. Latching myself onto my corporate husband’s collars has been a great win-win situation for us: he got his companion by his side for the asking, and I, my ride to exotic locations, gratis.
Consider Mauritius, for instance. It quickly found its place into my traveller’s soul – the people, the language, and the very atypical marketplaces. The Mauritian culture is represented by a heady mix of an aestheticism that is distinctly reminiscent of India, and the language, rather bizarre to my ‘Francophile’ persona. It is neither French nor English, and is mystically named Creole, spoken in the Caribbean and the Reunion islands as well. The style or prices at some malls were unmistakably European, but with enough takers from among the seasoned and rich travellers. The beauty of the beaches and palms don’t fail to capture a free spirit, and it’s a vacation that isn’t for the faint-hearted! The well organised underwater walks, the flying water-skiers, the glass-bottomed boats may not be the wildest of adventures, but are amusing. And if you have the money, they will cater to your every fantasy. The Mauritians are a warm and welcoming lot and receptive to tourism in a big way. It’s their mainstay, I am told!
On returning from a vacation or a journey, I have returned somewhat transformed, a little enriched. How does one define this enrichment? It’s not a phrase or a defining moment in time. It’s a gradual development of a new consciousness and awareness. It’s the heightened sense of wonderment, awakening of the child within, and, of course, an acute awareness that at the end of the day, everyone is the same. Quintessentially, every culture, every country, has the same ethos, sustaining, in its own unique language, that which stands for beauty and love. It’s absolutely magical!
When we travelled to Vancouver, Canada, I found myself in God’s own country (with apologies to Kerala). The most beautiful and the highest possible treetops grazed the sky. Richly endowed by nature’s bounty, spectacularly clad, like a forest bride, from head to toe in varied flora and fauna, Vancouver is as much for the rich as it is for the shoestring traveller. One sees pictures, one reads travelogues, and yet the real thing can blow your mind away. Canada is generously strewn with an exhilarating combination of mountains and ocean, visible from most places. To a traveller from India, this is unimaginably overwhelming and romantic. The ambience cries freedom.
On being swept off your feet in a country such as Canada, not only do you become conscious of what you’ve been missing, but you also yearn, in turn, to gather and carry some of that beauty back home in your arms. It’s the start of a spiritual journey. An unmistakable stamp has been embossed upon your spirit.
Whistler is a tiny hamlet not far from Vancouver, reachable via a spectacular drive from there. It is simply the most exotic and luxurious place I have visited. In winter, it magically transforms into a ski resort, and even has an Indian resto. Longing for some honest Indian fare, we were not disappointed. Even in summer, jackets are a necessity after sundown and before sunrise.
Canada has some of the most wondrous sights to behold, to be gasped at, and to revisit time and time again. Just sitting on one of many wooden benches that dot the enormous parks in Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada, one is constantly inspired to spout poetry, comb through one’s memory, and come up with an autobiography!
A flight into Calgary which is part of the province of Alberta, and we are heading close to the Rockies. Now the Rockies, are indeed the Rockies, they are a line of rugged mountains that are rockhard, and an awe-inspiring sight to behold as you drive toward them. You hold your breath as you inch closer and closer to them, and you never quite get there. Beyond the Rockies lie more wonders. The glaciers, the clear blue skies, Lake Louise, Banff National Park and the huts close at hand, representing shelters for the visitors, all and more take the wind out of you. The sheer beauty of nature soaks you, as it infuses your spirit with a kind of awe that I can only imagine seers and prophets to be imbued with. The power and mystery of nature truly comes alive, in the most mystical manner possible. You are forced to stay quiet, and hold back your voice from exclaiming out loud, as the forces claim you through the majesty of a melting glacier, or the sheer emerald glass-like surface of the lake as you glide over it in a kayak.
If this is not alchemy, then what is?
The compulsive migrant
We travelled to many more distant lands, and innumerable regions within our own. There is no truth in the adage that there can be too much of a good thing, I learnt through our expeditions. What lends meaning to my forays is a very strong and deep desire to understand mankind, with a yearning to grasp the thread that holds us together, and which prevents us from destroying one another.
Wanderlust, and a hunger for people and places is what spurs one on unceasingly. A voyage then becomes a passage in time, wherein one can exploit the momentum in play, both physical and spiritual to surge ahead. The power of movement without propels the movement within. Hail the fellow traveller, for he knows what it is to stoke the fire of a compulsive migrant.
A mother of two, and currently a French teacher at the Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, Kamilini freelances as a writer and travels widely both within and outside of India.
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