Travel if you can – Journal

The ITALIAN poet Gio Evan insists on the need to travel without which the human spirit remains locked in its narrow borders and regurgitates its own thoughts. One must travel, he says, because otherwise thoughts will not be strengthened and enriched with high ideals: dreams will be born with weak and trembling legs.

In recent years, tourism in Pakistan has become an almost essential activity for those who can afford it. Many save for annual vacations and take a trip to places around the country where they can enjoy nature walks or adventurous activities, usually with family or a group of friends. Sometimes travel destinations include neighboring countries such as the Middle East, Thailand or Turkey. Almost all of these trips are for sightseeing or visiting family members and sometimes for shopping. However, while Pakistani tourists have increased, there are far fewer travelers. “The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he came to see.” The tourist is not really Evan’s traveler. Destinations and sights are planned in advance. Tourism is above all an entertainment activity. Traveling has a different purpose.

It would be rare to find many in Pakistan who travel for the purpose of learning, expanding their mental horizons and enriching their repertoire of experiences. Few would dispute the assertion that our society is primarily inward-looking and less likely to learn and absorb opinions of a different hue from its own history or from what it has gleaned from its elders. One of the reasons for this could be that we are much less exposed to the world in terms of meeting different people, experiencing different cultures, experimenting with different cuisines, and listening to different languages. We have developed a degree of personal importance that becomes difficult to eliminate as our obsession with our tiny world grows. Travel, on the other hand, tells us how small the space we occupy in the vastness of this world is. When we are able to see ourselves as a small part of a larger system, it helps us develop humility and the right perspective.

In many countries, students save on their part-time jobs or allowances to travel during college or university vacations, and even take a gap year to see the world. For a student to do this in Pakistan would be unheard of. Not just because of financial constraints, but because travel is still considered purely for fun. It’s a luxury and you can only indulge in it if you have money to spend and a family to go with. Therefore, people are waiting to have a job, to be settled and to earn enough money to take pleasure trips. At that time, the island and parochial perspective created by our educational system and social interactions limited their minds to processing what they saw, heard, or observed in their immediate environment.

Travel has a different purpose than tourism.

Someone who has traveled to other places, lived there for a while, and made an effort to understand other people’s values ​​and cultures is likely to have a broader mind and stretch of the imagination than their counterpart who has stayed at home all his life. Some say they read about other places and so traveled in their minds. But it cannot replace physical movement and real-time life in other environments. It is not only young people who travel to learn and not only Westerners who have made travel an essential aspect of their lives in modern times. Planes, trains and long bus journeys see large numbers of older people living in retirement and deciding to see the world and enrich their experiences. Travel is synonymous with learning and experience for young and old. Many world famous travelers who wrote their travelogues lived in earlier times and came from the Orient.

What we read in books about other places is not always the truth. We are often fed misinformation and opinions that others have or want us to have. Once we travel, our assessment could be very different. What we read or hear from others could create a bias in our mind. It is only when we meet, see and hear for ourselves that we open our hearts and expand our minds. According to Mark Twain, travel eliminates prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness and fosters a compassionate view of others and their way of life. The journey also develops different aspects of its own personality, giving flower and color to hidden qualities and sprouting seeds that might have perished had they not been watered and fertilized by the rich surroundings of the rest of the world. Anatole France, French winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921, said that the original harmony between man and nature is restored by wandering. To reconnect with our origins, we must move away from our routine lives.

The author is an independent contributor.

Posted in Dawn, January 31, 2023

Leave a Reply