When Bilbo Baggins left Bag End to go off on an epic journey with Gandalf and the dwarves, he never thought he could be anything other than a comfort-loving hobbit. To his own surprise, he turned out to be a talented ‘burglar’, applying his wits and common sense in times of danger. And when he returned, he was no longer the same.
They say travel can change you profoundly. But it wasn’t until recently that I saw the truth of it. As a child, I didn’t get the chance to explore my country, let alone the world. I won’t bother you with the whys, because my parents might chase after me with a stick. In any case, I’m an introvert, and wanderlust doesn’t exactly run in my veins. The prospect of making a bucket list of countries-to-visit doesn’t excite me. But I love what travelling did for me, when I took up a master’s degree in the United Kingdom.
The first two weeks had me cringing at every pound I spent. Rupee-to-pound conversion isn’t pretty. Little did I know then that currency wasn’t the only thing being converted. In a month, I’d gotten adept at cleaning; my pampered self was in tears. In three months, I’d turned into a professional cook; six months later, I’d gained six kilos. In the year that followed, I made a few solo trips; the curfew-bound Indian girl in me had taken flight. When I returned home a year and a half later, all plump and independent, my mother couldn’t recognise me.
“Travel wallops my ethnocentricity, and I’m very thankful for that. It’s something to celebrate.”
Sure, we might need visas to travel the world, but we can let our minds transcend borders.