Monday, July 12, 2004


There are times when the urge to travel becomes an all-consuming preoccupation, the outcome of which is the quasi-earnest planning of some improbable excursion. This mindset is usually accompanied by the intermittent perusal of that shelf in the bookcase devoted to travel literature, wherein I am likely to find some description of the locale I have set my mind upon to visit.

Whether the wanderlust is borne of a true wish to visit the particular locale or merely the result of a yearning to escape depends upon the individual, though I am leaning toward the latter, mainly because the episode usually begins with a vague yearning to simply be away, and that encompasses anywhere. Indeed, one can feel 'away' even within the confines of one's own city, but that is juxtaposed by being hurtled back into one's own space when the day draws to a close. In this regard, the necessity of distance becomes important: being far away brings anonymity and precludes responsibility. However, more baggage is usually brought along than one needs or wishes to be weighed down with: these are the worldly concerns that cannot simply be left at home. Alain de Botton puts it most eloquently:

It seems we may best be able to inhabit a place when we are not faced with the additional challenge of having to be there. [Taken from The Art of Travel]

Armchair travel is admittedly more practical, but it also less satisfying. If anything at all, it is frustrating, because the more I read about a certain place, the more I want to physically be there.

So what is left if personal constraints preclude travelling in the physical sense? Armchair travel is out, because it invariably strengthens the yearning to be away. Alas, the idea of travel will have to suffice.

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