Untraveled Tales

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I have a ‘Rough Guide Special’ on Women travelling in front of me. It had come caked in alluring book dust, dug from the pile of old books for sale in an exhibition, but it arrived like a perfect guest to my homestead.

I have this habit of literally burying my nose deep into newsprint, to inhale the book soul’s journey- a habit that gives me psychic vibes and allergy simultaneously; and creates much laughter in my kids. I have deduced many a book’s travel in its past- by smelling it out like a Rottweiler. I have also earned the wry looks of many a silverfish, disturbed from cosy existences during the recover-a book-back experiments.

(Ahh…this one went from loving hands to commercial hands , back to child like hands and there is a mango pickle smell and a faded flower kept in between two sad pages..one fold here, as if someone dropped off to sleep after reading the line on unrequited love ..so maybe a woman’s hands and…sneeeeze!!!)

The pages beckon me, to roam across countries starting from A-Australia, to B, Burkino Fasa, to C and D and E and F,.. G -Ghana, skipping in between distractions at H-Honduras, M-Morocco, S-Senegal..U-Ukraine, a detour to V-Vietnam and to Z-Zimbabwe..totally counting the dots turns out to be 61 countries straddling the globe..To add to the feast, after the pithy travelogues , there are literary references..like in Columbia, they give you references to Marquez and Charlotte Mendez’s passionate ‘Condor and Humming bird’.

It is like sitting in the rain and enjoying the sun at the same time.Great for an arm chair traveller who moves with the wind and dust of her imagination; and is slightly worried about an aging knee bone.

Strangely, all that energetic travel descriptions made me think of that beautiful book “The diving bell and the butterfly”. Wriiten by the bedridden, body shackled Jean Dominique Bauby, the editor of the French Elle who suffered from the rare”locked in syndrome”, who dictated his book by blinking his left eyelid.

The’ butterfly ‘symbolised his joyous spirit, which recollected the pleasure of swallowing a warm yellow yolk of a perfectly done egg…and the diving bell denoted his feeling less, stiff body that was like a lead coffin.

Blessed are those who can travel far and wide and enjoy the sunset in Samoa and a night out in Nicaragua. Equally blessed are the ones, who like a favorite character in a vernacular film, said, ‘My world starts and ends with the sun and the river in my little village.”

Blessed are those who are the in- between travelers, like many of us. People who get to move about here and there, catching the sparks of a vital life in another culture and return home reassured, that all is well in ours too.

Blessed are those like Jean Bauby, who even when they are denied the powers of movement,travel relentlessly through their imaginations, picking out baubles of sparkling memoirs for us..to entertain and enlighten..so much so that, one stops while eating an egg and pauses..taking a sweet, fulfilling taste of the pleasure he mentions..

Maybe, it is ok to eat an egg in one’s old kitchen after all! Can be as pleasing to the omniscient Spirit, as chewing a fruit in Zanzibar…

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