Travel we all. Except that some enjoy it alone. The strange thing about going solo is that one is never really quite alone. You are single, by yourself; not alone. As for fears of getting lonely, don’t even think of it. There is no such thing.
Wandering off on your own allows freedom ‘to be’ – completely & honestly yourself. Nobody knows you. Nobody judges you. Which is to say that, you are not carrying any extra ‘baggage’. Meet people at will or shun them. Talk if you must. Walk the streets or join a local tour. The choice is yours. There is no one to be humoured, pandered to or make compromises with. You are the master.
All I ever need is a room with a view, a journal to scribble upon & a book, related to the place – no matter how remotely. Preferably, a work of fiction.
After months of research, sifting through facts & details & sorting out travel nitty-gritty it is well to loosen up & relax. Therefore fiction. A book of your choice. Always the perfect companion.
My trip to Cameron Highlands, Malaysia would not have been the same without Tan Twan Eng & ‘The Garden of Evening Mists.’ Tan turned out the perfect soulmate & that greatly enhanced the experience.
Take F Fitzgerald Scott & ‘Tender is the Night.’ A light, frivolous companion to anyone traversing the playgrounds of the rich & famous – the French Riviera. It was amusing to hear two characters argue the merits & demerits of Paris vs Rome. Which was more crime infested? The story plays out in the first decades of the last century & here am I – France 2015 – robbed & taken to the cleaners over a 100 years later. Clearly some things never change.
At another, more sober level is Graham Greene’s ‘The Quiet American’. A novel set in French Indo-China. A different matter altogether that modern day Vietnam (2016) cares two hoots about wars past & forgotten. Zen like. Talk of living in the present!
Closer home, if visiting Kerala, I would suggest taking along Arundhati Roy, if you can stomach her or Salman Rushdie. ‘God of small things’ & ‘The Moor’s last sigh’ are both excellent reads & will give that extra zing & flavour.
As Amitav Ghosh did to Gangasagar – Sunderbans – 2013.
His ‘The Hungry Tide:’ Boy O Buoy, did it shore up EQ! (emotion quotient)
Where to next? You may ask. And, with whom?
Italy this Fall. With Buzzati.
Dino Buzzati & his “strange & haunting novel” ‘The Tartar Steppe’ that has been described as “an eccentric classic”.
Eccentric? I’ll read it first, then decide.
Note: Russia is in the pipeline for 2018. There is a Russian tale about a man who collects water from the major rivers of the world & stores them in tiny bottles, kept in a row. Book, author, story writer – unfortunately unknown. ( But he could well be Pavstovsky who has woven tales around the Limpopo river)
It is what I will take along to read cruising down the Volga river.
Help! Anyone? Would be ever so grateful.
# Russia 2018. And it will be ‘Mission to Volga’