Tuesday, December 09, 2014

When Will You Go?

Tomorrow. Next month. Next Year. After I finish my education. After I become sure I am making the right decision. After I save a respectable amount of money. After I get married. After my kids go to school. After my kids get married. After I overcome the high blood pressure. After I retire. Right after I manage to stand on my own today and pee in less than a minute.

Whoa whoa whoa, back up, there!

Procrastination is the world's favorite hobby. It is free, it is convenient, it is ridiculously easy. When it comes to travel, we come up with all sorts of funny excuses. A big part of the reason though, one which we don't like to reveal, is that most of us don't actually want to travel. We just want to want to travel.

We secretly crave the life of the tea seller in Paulo Coelho's Alchemist, dreaming of visiting Mecca but cringing from the idea of actually getting off his ass. We know that wanting to travel the world is a lot less expensive, lot easier, and a lot more romantic than traveling the world. And when most of the rest of the world has already bought into that secret, it is a lot easier to fall prey to the lure of whining about your unfulfilled dreams with fellow average Joes.

If you are a true traveler, you must realize that your reasons for not wanting to travel right now will still apply a year from now. Not just that, there will be even more terrifying demons to slay.

You say you have student loans? Just wait till you have to deal with mortgage.

You say you have commitments? Just wait till you get married.

You say you have no money? Just wait till you have children.

We worry about waiting till we are certain we are making the right choice. We worry about being mugged in unfamiliar locations. We worry about being stranded in a jungle with no coverage on your cellphone. We worry about something as silly as getting lost.

Guess what, you can get lost, stranded, or mugged just as easily in your home town. You can run out of money just as easily, sometimes more so, in your current life. You can make bad decisions in your life all the time regardless of where you are.

If you don't want to travel, you will always find a reason to not leave it all behind and get out on the road. Like the mythical Hydra, There will always be bills to pay, weddings to attend, bonds to maintain, and excuses to nurture. And just as you think you have cut one off, new ones will have already sprung to action in its place.

Tomorrows are nothing but a fickle mire of uncertainty. Tomorrows will always remain tantalizingly beyond the horizon. Until one day, like the ever-absent roll of toilet paper in public bathrooms, you run out of tomorrows just when you need them the most. You can never start traveling on a tomorrow; the day you get going is always a today. Unless you are Matthew McConaughey in a Tesseract constructed by 5-dimensional humans of the future; then you can get going on a tomorrow. But until then, rely on your supply of todays. They never run out.

There is never a perfect time to travel. The best thing about traveling, though, is it doesn't need one!

A Day in Bijapur

The first thing you notice while traveling from Maharashtra to Karnataka is that the buses are much less deadly in the latter. And the roads smoother. And the scenery nicer. And the fuel prices lower. But I digress.
I rolled into Bijapur around noon, and booked a room in Santosh lodge, opposite the bus station. The rooms are clean but cramped and there's no generator backup, but a room w/o TV is a good deal at 250 Rs/night (300 w/ TV).
In the evening I went out to see Ibrahim Roja and the surrounding monuments. Visited the Jod Gumbaz (twin domes) and the Taj bawdi on the way. The latter was a stinking mess of filth. To put it mildly. Once used as drinking water to all of Medieval Bijapur, the bawdi (well) is now filled with slimy, murky water and chocked with trash. The Jod gumbaz is much better maintained but is used more as a picnic spot thanks to its surrounding lawns.
The Ibrahim Roja ('Roja' means the tomb of a male Muslim) is befitting of the status afforded by the Archaeological Survey of India. It consists of the Roja on the left and a mosque on the right, surrounded by lawns. Situated outside Bijapur's city fortifications, the Roja was built by Ibrahim Adilshah as a would-be tomb for his then-living wife. Building a tomb for a living wife was considered a display of love back then but times have changed; do not try this at home. As fate would have it, Ibrahim passed away before his Begum and became the first occupant of the monument.

Ibrahim Roja

The Ibrahim Roja

The passage down memory lane...

On my way back I paid a visit to the Malik-e-Maidan (meaning 'master of the battlefield' and known in Maharashtra as 'Mulukh Maidan') cannon. 14 ft long and about 5 ft wide (it almost reaches my shoulder!), this 55-ton leviathan was originally used by the Bahmani army against the forces of Vijayanagara at the battle of Talikote. It was brought to Bijapur by 10 elephants and many oxen and men. Its mouth is engraved with a crocodile crushing an elephant in its jaws, representing the Shah's victory over the south Indian Hindu kings.
The fearsome Malik-e-Maidan

Saba-Dome Gigante!

Legs crying out for a breather and hunger starting to rear its head, I returned to my room after satisfying the latter with some jalebi and a plate of delicious roadside chicken.