Link to the previous blog: #JourneyOf1001Miles – Not another travel blog!
There were two options presented to me on that fine Monday morning – one was to sit back, and wait for someone to come and help me cross that one mile. The other was to stand up and take that one mile journey on my own, which I have never ever done in my life before as an eight year old kid!
A little background story to this – from my experience of born and brought up in a village ecosystem – the experience was unique for me. There are definitely perks in a rural lifestyle – say, living closer to the nature, the sheer joy in a peaceful and low-paced way of life, autonomy and the strong sense of community. Looking from the lens of a kid, there’s more space to play and move around in a village, and you have more number of friends who are also in some way related to you as a relative!
But at the same time, when it comes to access and availability of resources, there’s a huge gap. Like in my case, to buy a small stationery item or to get a simple ‘pakoda’ snack, one has to travel a mile’s distance! That one mile too – is composed of a short one feet path way (most commonly known as ‘the otraiyadi pathai’ in Tamil) and a small road to connect to the town. I was often annoyed as a child, to travel that distance either by walk or by carried by someone through a bicycle – these ‘journeys’ in my then opinion, was too much of work.
Back then, I studied in the Govt. Primary School in the village, and more often it was fun going to school with friends across the street. End of the background story!
During one of the festive seasons, which is celebrated well in town, I decided to visit my aunt’s place to spend some time over the weekend and enjoy the festivities. I also had two of my cousins who studied in a local Private school in the town, I used to play Cricket and roam around the town with them.
Usually, whenever I visit the town during the weekend I always get back to my village on Sunday evening, so there’s adequate time for me to get prepared and go to school on the next day. But, during that weekend, I decided to stay back, with the hope that I may find someone from my local village in the morning that I can cling on to. There was also a bit of risk, because if I don’t find someone in the morning, I might not be able to go to school next day at all – as I haven’t ever travelled the one mile on my own, never before!
We decide something as a risk – because there’s equal probability to what we expected might not also happen. And the same thing happened to me! I couldn’t find anyone to join with and I was in a fix – with the two options – one was to sit back, and wait for someone to come and help me cross that one mile. The other was to stand up and take that one mile journey on my own, which I have never ever done in my life before!
The most exciting thing about doing ‘new’ things is that we won’t have any experience to look back to and analyze. But as an eight year old, I’ve heard a bunch of stories that children unaccompanied going missing, being misused. That actually, made me to reconsider my decision multiple times, but there’s a high stake – I might miss out a lesson from my 3rd Standard textbook if I don’t attend the school (that’s true – we think of our high stakes based on what level we’re in!).
But, as the clock was ticking – I made up my mind. I chose to travel that ONE MILE, on my own – which I have never done before! My aunt also permitted me – I was a tall boy 😛
I recollected the path way, confirmed the same with my aunt and cousins. Then I started my journey – it was both a mix of walk and run, powered by some in flow of adrenaline, with cold wind rushing towards me as I moved from walking on the town roads to the path in between the farming lands and lily ponds.
There’s a beauty on walking between the farming lands – one has to keep watching the steps, and keep a strong sense of balance! But, on that day, I tried my best to travel as fast as possible – especially in the areas where I was completely alone and there was no human visibility.
The journey was never ending – I couldn’t even imagine reaching the full distance. I kept on walking steps-after-steps-after-steps. Thankfully, I didn’t have a watch with me, so my focus was only on the travel, not on the time.
I was also consistently looking on the path way to see if there are any known men riding a bicycle so I can go along. To my dismay, there was no one – let alone the bicycle, no one was even walking.
I was able to understand so many things doing this ‘one mile journey’ alone. The time goes very slow, and distance you travel is frame by frame if you’re conscious. In my mind, I was also scolding myself – I should’ve chosen to leave early on the previous day and not put me in this unnecessary tense situation!
When I was completely exhausted – finally this happened – I was able to see a view of my street! Yes, my destination is on sight now. Due to my action-packed ride, my shirt was half-wet.
I slowly walked to home, changed and went to school. Looking at me super tired, my school friends started inquiring about the matter and I narrated them the same. It was quite surprising for everyone that I walked the entire way all alone, and nobody believed! Well, not to complain, even I won’t believe it; if someone told me such thing can happen – before I made it happen for me!
Traveling the ‘first mile’ was really hard, but it proved a lot of freedom for me – now I have the experience of traveling to the town from my village which means that I can get ‘pakoda’ whenever I want by traveling a mile, of course!
In retrospect, I can draw a lot parallels to my ‘first mile’ journey to the many of the journeys I took as a student and as a professional, a decade later.
Yes, to start any journey that you want to – you need these two things ‘courage’ and ‘belief’.
Courage to travel that one mile, which you’ve never done before – courage to take that step which you might find challenging (till you complete it!).
Belief on yourself (the traveller); belief on the people around you; belief on the ecosystem and the environment around you.
Wait, so if you’re asking me – are only courage and belief sufficient to plan any travel?
Definitely, no! In my opinion, every traveler should also know some hacks – like packing your bag. It’s a skill that I learned in a hard way!
Watch out for the next blog post on travel and let’s do some packing!