Wor(l)ds Apart: Beyond Backpacking

The most important thing in life. True love. Without it, all is nothing. And when you find it, you have to let love go so that it can unfold. Just like when a journey takes you to a perfect place and then asks you to move on. That is the hardest part. The Zen. This impulse to reconfigure, this impulse to let go. It keeps the world churning, connects us to the world, to people, to places, to life.

And isn’t it strange that it is the things that make our life richer that make us feel poorer. Or is it simply that our hearts grow during the blues, that it churns with all those emotions and builds new spaces for all those places, all those people we met. Maybe these blues are but the process of turning moments into memories for those spaces that feel empty, yet aren’t.

15768181When the time arrives, I will write about how Worlds Apart: 2 Friends, 2 Journeys, and 10 Life Lessons – A True Story by Smitha Murthy, and Dorothee Lang found me. For now, I am glad that it did.

Smitha Murthy was teaching English in China, when she stumbled upon Dorothee Lang’s articles about her recent trip to India. Murthy was longing for home (Bangalore, India) then. She was naturally pleased to read lovely articles about her homeland. She wrote to Lang about how she enjoyed reading her travelogue, and the inspiring travellers began exchanging e-mails, letters, poems, and brilliant, brilliant notes about their extraordinary journeys.

After I finished the book, I went back to my desk to read my clients’s e-mails, but I couldn’t focus. I was thinking of Murthy, and Lang. I couldn’t bring myself back from Murthy’s China, and all the places that Lang visited. Along with them, I seemed to have left a piece of my heart in all those places.

When Murthy returned to India from China, Lang wrote to her, “I think it (the transit back into one’s home) is one of the most difficult parts of a journey: the step back into home from another place. Or maybe even more: from another side of self. While the ones back home (and even oneself) think you are back, it’s a slightly other you who returns, one that doesn’t exactly fit the carved shape of the everyday that you left behind when packing your bags.”

I realised that I was a different me, after I read the book. The dormant, unenthusiastic traveller in me woke up, and reminded that I would miss myriad things in life if I fail to backpack.

Every exchange between Murthy, and Lang, brims with their bottomless love for unknown lands, and proves their keen understanding of life. One must not read the book to know about the places that the duo visited. The sheer beauty lies in the prism through which they saw those intimidating cities, unassuming villages, popular tourist attractions, and above all… their own lives.

Their correspondence carried 10 lessons. 10 beautiful, subtle life lessons. Some were stunningly Zennish. Like ‘Just Be’. Some were motivating. Like ‘Fight Alone’, and ‘Beautiful Humility’. The lessons appeared more fitting, and powerful because they took shape, when Murthy, and Lang visited places that humbled them, caused them pain, gifted unforgettable memories, and when they encountered trying times. The lessons are universal because the emotions that created them are universal.

Now, I look forward with more enthusiasm to visiting the US; I will not be surprised if I discover a new me in that foreign land, or I hope that I will.

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42 thoughts on “Wor(l)ds Apart: Beyond Backpacking

  1. This sounds beautiful, Deepika. I completely agree with this: “While the ones back home (and even oneself) think you are back, it’s a slightly other you who returns, one that doesn’t exactly fit the carved shape of the everyday that you left behind when packing your bags.” As a constant traveler between two worlds (two continents with 2 different languages and cultures) this resonates with me on a deep level. You’re never the same after spending time in a different place. It has its good and bad sides. Mostly good, tough.
    You’ll have to tell us how it was for you when you get back from your trip. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad you liked it, Delia. I think you will like the book too. It is wonderful. I thought of you when I wrote it, for the very same reason: travelling between two continents. 🙂

      Of course, I will write about it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Deepika, this sounds like my kind of book. I’m adding it to my to-read list which like everyone else’s is impossibly long. But this one especially intrigues me, the give and take, back and forth, the relationship established, and the writing sounds great. Thanks for sharing this book. If you visit the US, do you know where you’d like to go?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad that you are adding it to your TBR, Val. It is a beautiful book, and I hope you will like it. 🙂

      I am going to live with my sister for five weeks. She lives in Dallas. I intend to travel around Texas a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. True love. Without it, all is nothing. And when you find it, you have to let love go so that it can unfold. Just like when a journey takes you to a perfect place and then asks you to move on. That is the hardest part. The Zen. This impulse to reconfigure, this impulse to let go. It keeps the world churning, connects us to the world, to people, to places, to life.

    Ah! That’s what drives the backpacker, does it?

    I love to visit places, but not the way a backpacker does. I’d want to live there, for a while, establish organic connections with the people, the place, make it a part of you, and just when you start to belong to that place, move on. You take with you a part of that place in your memories – that place is yours. And, perhaps, you too have left something of yourself in that place.

    Whatte review – glowing, yet revealing nothing – piques one’s interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful review, Deepika! Their firendship sounds beautiful and I think it is true, you do change and discover yourself anew when you travel and if you’re lucky you grow fro this and take something back with you! I do hope you’ll have the best time in the US 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your review is so wonderful to read. You merge yourself into the book in gentle, careful ways. I think through traveling we constantly reinvent ourselves. Not that I mean to make up a new persona that we might wish to be, but traveling draws out different parts of ourselves in ways that we can rarely experience when we live in the same place, see the same friends, and do similar things year after year.

    I love hearing about people who have friendships through words. It makes me happy to think of all the friendships worldwide that are linked by paper and pen, or nowadays, by electronic means. It brings us closer, and perhaps each letter is like a tiny journey in our head and hearts.

    Your trip in June, when you visit Texas, will only be one part of that journey. It began the day you thought about going, and really won’t end. It will always be with you, and will bring new memories; some to treasure, and some that will just vanish over time like a puff of smoke, as time goes by.

    I am pleased to be able to share your adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If I’m completely honest with myself, I avoid picking up travel memoirs because I think they’d just make sad that I don’t travel more myself! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed that about this one though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review. There is nothing like traveling. It opens yourself up to new worlds, both physical and emotional worlds. I’ve been like enough to travel extensively in recent years, and I want to believe that I’ve become a better person because of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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