What is evidence of good travel?

Indian countrysideDreary and fresh, a serene landscape
also harbors dog fights and political types
In these stretches of land,
there’s always a market for chai,
for petrol, for John Deere tractor rentals
Through these veins flows a bus,
“White Lightning,” filled with fresh and/or
glazed perspectives, depending on attitude,
depending on where we find ourselves
in the cyclical temperament
descriptive of a traveler…

We blur past a single pink house,
sitting alone and waiting
for community expansion,
which may or may not be possible,
from the looks of these sweeping fields of crops
Owned by whom? Which feed whom? Clearly harvested by hand,
three elderly spines bend in the shadows of volcanic plateaus,
but no volcano.

Hot, seasoned woks work all day long at plastic chair cafes
Forks in roads and rivers make great meeting locations
Though seemingly far from residences and commerce, the arching awning
in front shades a resting gaggle of motorbikes in transit.

Andhra Pradesh (Telangana), Karnataka, and Maharashtra are
my regional canvases of mystery material.
Women’s faces I can not see, tightly wrapped for the motorbike journey
A multi-tone horn flutters wildly as the bedazzled truck blazes by
I’m in India, and I’m in the fetal position.

We burn fuel, and sometimes we observe where that takes us,
hypothetically hoping it’s toward patch-covered nirvana, an open mind
Regardless of the where to but focusing on the so what
What is travel, and what is a traveler?

Nick jetlagged in India, TGS, HyderabadMoney advises longer trips for
longer transits, many days to buffer and
mentally overshadow the exhaustion by
pressure and anticipation
experienced from movement.
So does health, the definition of health,
advise against passive movement
for movement’s sake, an act that
becomes the emergent if the majority.

Initially pummeling through three states
in the Subcontinent, I anticipated
dramatically lit caverns
shaped by earth and carved by water.
In the moment, I didn’t stare,
pining for a connection,
but I moved and slow-danced with the concept of travel, good travel,
all while my students ingested acts of human ingenuity.

The letter “C” pulled long, its lips stretched
around a curving river that carries away all the
previous ancient discards of Ajanta caves.
Monks, chipmunks, and three-day weekenders now creep
around the curve of chiseled rock like ants from afar,
ducking into nooks where the light no longer reaches.

Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad, IndiaLevels of arcades, rectangular windows into
the inner potential of the earth;
what was built to nurture a religious few,
neglected, and re-discovered to be
ogled for centuries.
Whistles from spectacles attempt
to detract from this hidden, gorgeous scar;
we are barely fazed in this moment, when
we welcome a meditation on the present.

Bending, stability for now,
with a Diet Coke in hand,
surrounded by inquiring minds
that ebb and flow
Sipping cold bubbles while exhaling
the ripe wafting winds of perspiration
all while processing the reality that Hinduism doesn’t really exist.

But content missed me almost completely on this journey; instead
I am conscious of relationships, exposures of rich stone tones,
ohms on homes, all the ponies in the struggle,
and what makes for good travel.

Jains attempt to live day-by-day expressing their belief in non-violence,
by covering their mouths and brushing the ground before them.
Could I realistically identify evidence
of the daily expression of my lifestyle?
What did I do today or how did I think today
that connected with “good travel?”

When asked not just to define a word but
to embody its description, we usually fall short.
When in the presence of what that word is or isn’t,
those examples seem so self-evident.
Today, in those caves, in that hotel room,
over that Fanta, in that bus through India,
how did you exhibit evidence that YOU were a traveler?

We burn fuel, and sometimes we observe where that takes us,
hypothetically hoping it’s toward patch-covered nirvana, an open mind
Regardless of the where to but focusing on the so what
What is travel, and what is a traveler?

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  1. Andi Perullo

    What superb writing!

    September 16, 2013 at 12:13 | Permalink
  2. Lindsay Clark

    Thanks, Andi! My students had a travel writing exercise on our trip, and I decided to do it, too :)

    September 19, 2013 at 12:54 | Permalink

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