I am hot, miserable and constipated. I sleep poorly, most recently in a urban shelving unit with a glass brick view of the hall. I end up lost for minutes if not hours on end, going in circles and getting contradictory directions, missing sunsets and appointments. I book trains late and have to take the bus. I miss the bus.
None of this would feature in any travel diary, but they are a big part of travel. They say that the point is the journey, but they don’t mention that the journey is often delayed, uncomfortable, boring, or even disastrous. That the destination is often short and disappointing and that ones thoughts are often on your stomach or yourself.
I’ve seen couples strolling through beautiful palaces being completely oblivious, so caught up are they in a fight. Right now I’m in Sai Baba’s village, a man believed to be a living avatar of God, and I’m entirely preoccupied with my nails. They haven’t been cut in a while, and I have no means to do so.
Despite the beauty of some destinations, I spend a lot of time on roads or rails, caught up in smog and congestion. In this small temple town the people are dressed in white, silent and respectful, but the vehicles are always riding the horn. You leave the huge hall a bit blissed out on all the Krishna chanting and tables only to be redisoriented with the constant honks and toots.
Then, wherever you are, one ends up condensed into a room, a cheap room usually, which forms the main physical experience of the place you’re in. As in, sleeping, washing, going to the bathroom. And that experience is often bad.
This is much of the modern journey. Walking is one thing, but these modern conveniences are deeply unromantic and at best mundane. At worst they are profane, belching smog and noise, wet feet, bad smells, toxic food. Ah modernity. For a livable mean you’ve made the world so cruel.