There are many different ways by which we may interact with the world. A baby’s close proximity to the ground and view of the world while nestled in a sling against his mother’s hunched back generates its own unique sensory experiences and perspectives, different from, say, a white-collar worker in her office, a beggar prostrated on the roadside, school children traveling by bicycles, a fruit vendor surrounded by hanging bananas and browning pears, with their attendant flies, or a truck driver who rarely leaves the kingdom of the road. Part of the experience of travel life demands recognition of precisely this range of human experience and, as Ms. Hill so concisely put it, I had to walk to get there. Actually, it is a significant privilege, and, perhaps, responsibility, to do so. But let’s steer away from self-delusion and acknowledge that these experiences don’t come without the sacrifice of many familiar comforts, namely, the comfort of familiarity. Or is it simply familiarity as we know it? As I know it?
Isn’t it true however far we’ve wandered
Into our provinces of persecution
Where our regrets accuse, we keep returning
Back to the common faith from which we’ve all dissented,
Back to the hands, the feet, the faces?
[W.H.Auden, from Letters from Iceland]
Music: nitin sawhney – the boatman