Thoughts from the Road

It is the end of another work day here in the Caucasus.  This time night is falling on the town of Yerevan, Armenia.  My ten night trip is drawing to an end and I have a few observations as the most alien of aliens in this far away land.

I hope foreign travel will always be a part of my life.  There’s no substitute for the way it invigorates one’s mind.  With the time spent in each town and the travel between, you really start to notice life as it goes on in front of your eyes.  As a traveler for business, I react to a coming trip much differently than I do when traveling with my family.

As I begin the first day of far-flung trips like this one, I always start with trepidation.  As someone who is responsible for a family and a livelihood, I always dwell a bit on the “what could go wrong” scenarios.  Before a trip I obsess over visas, daily itineraries and meeting times.  However, as soon as the wheels of the plane leave the ground, I surrender to the unknown that lies before me.  I guess it’s a coping mechanism.  I do my best to plan in advance and then when I finally get off the ground, I let the chips fall as they may.  Heck, there’s nothing much you can do about it when you’re thousands of miles away from your comfort zone.  Why bother worrying?

After everything falls into place and the meetings are done I’m always glad to return home.  The wanderlust of my youth is replaced with a deep desire to spend as much time as possible with my wife and kids.  I’m not conflicted about it.  Rather, the time away makes me appreciate what I know I’m thankful for every day.  Travel puts it all into perspective.  It’s quite a gift.

Wanderlust

“Don’t you ever wanna just roll down that highway wherever it goes?”

“In my experience, wanderlust is vastly overrated.  Every time I’ve ever taken to the road it’s carried to someplace worse than I was before.”

The above quote is from Steve Earle’s novel, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive which I finished on my recent trip to New Delhi.  While my experience with wanderlust has been much more fortunate, I can completely understand the sentiment.  In the case of my trip to India, I think it applies.

Don’t get me wrong.  India was fascinating.  The food was good; the people were warm and really pleasant.  But India itself is a land of contradiction.  Gut-wrenchingly so.   The sheer fact that it is the largest democracy in the world with such staggering poverty is something I can’t reconcile in my head.

Of course, I would be wrong to judge the whole of India based on a week-long conference even with several trips outside of the hotel with folks who know the city.  And I must say, even in the traffic-choked, smog shrouded capital, the city hints of the treasures held in the rest of country.  The brilliance of color in the local dress and the intensely delicious flavors of Indian cuisine were enough to make this traveler curious about what lies outside of the dusty streets of the capital.

That said, I get the feeling I may never get the chance to experience the rest of this country.  Maybe I’m too old.  Maybe all the truffles and foie gras have made me timid, weak and flabby.  Or maybe, sometimes, wanderlust is indeed overrated.