From June 2016 to March 2018, I spent time embracing the sights and sounds of parts of Africa, South and Central America. I was mesmerized by the wildlife in Africa. I was struck by the pristine beauty of the bio-diversity in the Americas. But there was a much profound change in my perspective as I finished up in Mexico. I had travelled. I had even explored. I had learnt so much. I had experienced so much. But something was amiss. I had spent almost two years experiencing breadth of experiences while only scratching the surface of what these experiences have to offer. There is so much more depth to exploration: I knew that in order to become an explorer: a true explorer, in my opinion, I had to become an immersive explorer. And that meant only one thing – I have to give up on the idea of a conventional lifestyle – I have to become completely mobile – a nomad, if you will, who would travel far and wide but would travel slow. This is now the primary driver of my philosophy of exploration.
In today’s fast paced and connected world, we have quite a few travellers. One has to only scroll through Instagram to understand how many travel and how many amazing photographs and experiences are showcased. I have no interest in becoming a social media influencer but I do have a strong interest in sharing my learning and knowledge I have gained. I have an interest in learning more before I travel and then getting a different perspective as I travel – like the puzzle pieces that fit together to create art. This idea is shaping my philosophy of exploration.
I have travelled far and wide even before I embarked on the 20 month trip but no where did I feel emotionally connected as I did in the Americas – especially with the natives. Their simplicity, their love for nature and their values (and love for Pachamama – Mother Earth) resonated strongly with me. If there is one place I felt at home, it was in Mexico – their diversity in food and culture as well as the warmth of the locals have been most influential in this connection. At the same time, I wanted to ensure that the future generations, while I will always encourage them to explore, learn more of these cultures – broaden their minds by building empathy and sharing compassion for different cultures. The post cards, which I sent to many kids, were a step towards that idea. Giving back to these communities has become important. This idea of giving back will influence my philosophy of travel.
When I started my travels, I had developed a philosophy which I tried to embrace as I travelled.
C: Capture the moment through photos and videos.
R: Respect the local culture without any prejudice and judgement. The last bit is quite critical as many of local philosophies might be in contrast to my personal values.
A: Absorb all my experiences as a step forward in self growth.
V: Vocalise and provide my views and thoughts of my experiences. You have probably read my FB updates but I need to do a better job at this especially the blog.
E: Educate myself to be a better traveller and a better global citizen. Eventually aim is to become more learned, more wise and enlightened.
My idea of giving back, mentioned earlier, is related to my idea of self growth and becoming more educated and learned as I have captured those moments, respected without prejudice local cultures and absorbed the local knowledge and experiences. It is also my way of saying thank you to the locals, of being immensely grateful of the opportunities I have had to explore and to evolve as a person, and of being mindful of the negative impact I have had on our planet.
Today all the values and the new ideas described matter. However all this exploration isn’t just about experiencing the world – it is about feeding my soul which desires knowledge and becoming more engaged with the wider world. After all, no matter how successful one is, in terms of monetary and material success, one is extremely poor if one doesn’t feed one’s soul. And in the end that is what matters.