A mantra for exploration and exposure

Amit Sharma
Right from the veryfirst moment of the birth of a person till the person takes last breath, the streak towards Exploration and Exposure keeps on pushing a person towards learning and keeping the streak towards inquisitiveness on, as this is the very basis of existence and the life of a person onplanet earth. Also, if we go by the majority ofthe religious philosophies prevailing amongst human races, most of them conclude that even after the death of a person, the ‘soul’ travels or traverses in the ‘state of trans’ till it enter a new body for quenching its thirst and as they say, the course of travel or traversingis unending or multiple times in different forms, till it achieves ‘nirvana’ or ‘salvation’ from the cycle of birth and death for all times. Here, the underlying fact is also to understand the depth in the word ‘travel’ which is directly proportional to the continuous exposure and exploration, which is a direct corollary to it.
In my own definition of things, I keep the word’travel’ at the pinnacle, so far as it relates to the process of getting enough exposure about the outside world, discovering places and new locations, new cultures, getting first-hand experience about different things and practicesof exploring unexposed (virgin) spheres in one’s life. Although we invariably keep learning and getting exposed at different times through each and every new event or thing that comes into our life, right from the infancy stage till we grow old but just by the process oftravel, an unsaid or automatic exposure comes in and this is the best tutorial whichmake us explore, understand and grasp things in an unforgettable manner into the permanent hard disk of our minds. Although from critics point-of-view, one contradiction can can be put-up regarding my last statement that in today’s world wherein we are already gettingenough exposure through reading travellers’ blogs, watching vlogs and TV channels, surfing travel-related websites, Google-type search engines, taking virtual tours of places and countlessgyan-exchange happening on social media platforms in the present scenario but my take on this is that there is no parallel to the direct exposure which one gets withactual travels rather than trying to feel the places through virtual travels, as direct travelling or visits to the places certainly helps to unravel all those facts and things which are almost impossible to feel or experiencein alternate forms like Internet, books, literature, vlogs, etc.
All-time great Discoverers or Wanderers or Sailorsof the likes ofColumbuses or Vasco-de-Gamasand even the Great Conquerers of the likes of Alexander, the Great are the clear-cut examples of those Avid Travellers who had made Travels and Explorations as ‘the’ missions of their lives wherein their lives hovered around travelling, that too while taking highest level risks by venturing outat long-distant voyages in the unknown seas with hardly any knowledge about the shore or pieces of lands which they were trying to exploreor invade in the near future in those good old days when there was least usage of technology or radars and mostly, it was the instinct-based or guess-basedtravels unlike the modern-day travel wherein we have full knowledge and information about everything relating to our travels such as directions, weather conditions, radars, etc. But still the passion and spirit to travel and exploremore and more never went down and they kept on travelling continuously towards totally virgin and unknown destinations, which ultimately ended-up inachieving the impossible and it got their names registeredin golden letters in the books of history forever and also, their works for imprinted in the minds of the people forever. A deliberate mention of such examplesby me has a two-fold purpose, firstis to make us understand that the travels give us first-hand experience towards achieving almost impossible like what these explorers didand second is to know and acknowledge that travelling always used to be the biggest success mantra to achieve greatest heights in life at individual as well as group levels, even in those good old days, whether the purpose of same was forleisure and adventure, trade and commerce, expanding territories or for making cross-cultural exchanges.
Now, let meelaborate how travel can bring about a significant difference in one’s life and here, I would love to share my personal experiences on the subject, as travels have deeply impacted my personality andlife and most of the articles written by me are based out ofmy first-hand experimentation and experiences through vast exposure gained in numerous travels undertaken by me in this little journey of my life so far. My first long-distance travel happenedwhen I was just a few-months old infant with the family in parents’ lap from Jammu (my birth place) to Dehradun, as divulged by the parents and the streak continued thereafter many-a-times to different cities and states of India, obviously alongwith parents or elders as a dependent childonly. But I had the real privilege of undergoing first independent travel, all the way independently at a relatively early age by our standards, when I was almost entering into my teens. This time, I happened to travel all the way from Jammu to Mumbai on the iron wheels of a Train so as to spend summer vacationsatmy paternal aunt’s (Bua’s) residence, obviously after making special request and convincing parents to allow my maiden independent travel. When it happened successfully, since that day till date, I have never looked back and even, at this moment, I am privileged to jot downand share these thoughts with all of you, while undergoing an air travel at a height of almost 30,000 feet above sea-level from one top metro city of India to the other i.e., from Kolkata to Mumbai, that too, in an early morning flight when most of the public inside the plane is dozing off and there is decent amount of silent atmosphere here except for few announcements being made from the plane crew and pilots. Now, it has become one of mycompulsive habits to gather my thoughts and give them a shape of an article usually during my travels, especially when it is a long distance travel, preferably an air travel when I tend to open the front tray, put my I-Pad on it and start giving written form to my thoughts, experiences and ideas on it. Here, I would also give almost half the credit of my ‘so-called’ success and achievements in life (if not more than that), whether in terms of cracking and toppingthe Civil Services Exam or attaining the distinction of becoming a Lead Key-Note Speaker at various National and International Summits, to my “Travels and the Exposures” which I have undergone in journeys to numerous destinations, insideour India or outsideit and also, either through the medium of Road, Rail, Air or Sea travel. Hope here, I don’t seemto over-emphasise about the invariable role of Travels and Exposures, but if you believe me, it is the best natural source of educating oneself, getting self-independent, becoming confident, going through multiple phases of cross-cultural exchange in terms of understanding different languages, practices, ethos and value systems, tasting different types of foods, eating, sleeping and various kinds of different things which otherwise neverexist in our local set-ups and therefore, there is no chance whatsoever to ever get exposed towards them.
Here, I also want to quote an example of majority of the persons from the Western world whom I have interacted with from time to time, either sometimes during my travels and at other times, when I have had multiple opportunities for a qualitative interaction. Most of them, I found, were so fond of travelling and they still keep-on exploring the world and getting enriched, in terms of exposure, knowledge, cross-cultural exchanges and invariably developing a vast knowledge base through it. Unlike we Indians, majority of themclaim that they hardly have accumulated or saved the resources for the rainy day or for securing their future, especially with strong social security measures in-place at their native nations and they have the leverage of spending maximum of their earnings in exploring the outside world, as they feel like, so as toget the best exposures through travelsin the present at their disposals without worrying much about future or accumulating for the kids future, as most of us tend to plan and preserve for the future. One unforgettable example is that of a Spanish lady who co-incidentally used to be our tenant lot of years ago and she used to travel to India during severe winter months here and travelled back for job at Spain during summer months. Since she has hadworked as an Air Hostess for more a decade in her early part of the career and had a vast experience of travelling across the globe, I curiously asked heronce that what was the summation or gist of all the travels she had undergone over almosta decade of travel as Air-hostess to almost all the countries of the world and her reply was surprisingly just one single statement “I learnt to be NATURAL in life as much as I can with all these travel experiences of all these years behind me” and she felt indeed grateful to Almighty for it and expressed gladnessover getting ample opportunities to travel a lot in life which had completely overhauled her personality and brought the ‘best’in her, as she felt it.
In this last portion, I simply want to share few formulae ormantras for conduct of successful travel and exposure tours to all of you. One should have the ability to adapt to different conditions when one goes for a travel outside home. One should have the tendency for surviving in bare minimum in all respects, be in terms of eating, drinking, staying, bathing, transport,dressing-up, etc. although one should keep a bare minimum kit of travel related things if it is a planned travel. One should become quite extrovert and open in life, especially during the travels as lot needs to be exchanged and understood from others during travel times and being friends with people one comes across with, indeed helps, many-a-times. One should not only be physically but mentally also be equally tough to face any kind of exigency or eventuality especially during the long travels and yes, not to forget, one needs to have a little, if not more, bent towards adventurism as it helps to counter various unknown situations or challenges during the future travels. Rest, there is no need to learn more lessons about travelling as most of the things one tends to learn with each subsequent travel and tour, one goes for as this is the real inherent beauty which underlies in the word ‘travel’.
(The writer is a Senior JKAS Officer and presently working as Special Secretary to Government. He can be reached at amit1kas@gmail.com)