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  Opinion   Columnists  18 Nov 2023  Krishna Shastri Devulapalli | The going gets tough, the tough get Boeing!

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli | The going gets tough, the tough get Boeing!

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli is a humour writer, novelist, columnist and screenwriter
Published : Nov 19, 2023, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Nov 19, 2023, 12:05 am IST

In the frenzy of travel quotes and the allure of picturesque destinations, a humorous take on the essence of travel & the pursuit of beauty

A beautiful town isn’t a shape-changing piece in a jigsaw that will magically click into the empty space in your life and make it complete. (Image: Freepik)
 A beautiful town isn’t a shape-changing piece in a jigsaw that will magically click into the empty space in your life and make it complete. (Image: Freepik)

Of all the quotes in the world — barring the ones about inner beauty that invariably (not to mention, un-ironically) accompany selfies — those related to travel seem to be the most popular on social media.

“Not all those who wander are lost”, “Travel is an investment in yourself”, “Life is short, the world is wide” — you couldn’t have missed these or their cousins. (I’ve always found the one about life being short inaccurate though. Shouldn’t the world be long then?)

Anyway, the moral of the story seems to be that if we don’t travel, obsess over travel, talk incessantly about travel, and mock those who don’t travel as often as we want them to, we may as well tattoo an ‘L’ on our forehead, curl up and die. Because pretty much everyone I know seems to be either off to an exotic location, back from one, planning to go to one, or hospitalized on their return from one and taking longer than usual to recover because their doctor has left for one. All year long. As we speak, a close relative is meticulously planning his next vacation while he is on a plane to his present one.

All this travel hysteria reminds me of this old joke about, of all things, a guy who never washed his socks.

One day, his boss who’d had enough of the offensive odour for weeks, decided to issue an ultimatum to him. ‘Tomorrow, if you don’t change those socks, I’m firing you,’ he warned his employee.

And the next day, the serial offender came to his desk accompanied, as you may have guessed, by the same unbearable stench.

The boss confronted him. ‘Didn’t I tell you to change your socks?!’ he said.

‘I did, sir. I swear,’ said the employee, pulling up the cuff of his trousers just a bit to show his socks.

‘No, you didn’t, you liar,’ said the boss, holding his nose.

‘I knew you’d say that, sir. That’s why I brought these,’ said the employee, pulling the old socks out of his pocket.

You could go to Denmark, Djibouti or the Duchy of Parma. But it won’t make the slightest difference because, wherever you go, despite what Emile Zola, Mark Twain, Ibn Battuta or Mehul Choksi have said about travel, along with you comes that mind — with its cobwebs, grime, dirty dishes, undone laundry, decaying leftovers, things you’ve outgrown, things that don’t belong to you.

The dirty socks, in a sense, are still in your pocket. How can you escape the odour?

The same goes for folks who decide it’s time for them to move to Beautiful Places.

I was speaking to an old friend the other day when he said ‘I’m done with the city, we are going off to XYZ. We are building a little place there.’

I wished him the best and hung up. Here’s what I didn’t ask him though. Why XYZ town particularly? Is it for a specific purpose? Would you be just as okay if it was JKL town, and you’d bought property there instead in the ’90s?

Beautiful seaside towns, hill resorts, island getaways featuring picturesque mountains, the azure ocean, burbling brooks, flitting deer and all other clichés, with the big little house you’ve lovingly built after being ‘fed up’ with ‘city life’ — aren’t there, as you have figured, merely to serve as a backdrop for your story. They have their own plan, believe it or not, and haven’t got your memo.

Here’s a given — if you don’t have a purpose, if the ‘beautiful’ space you have chosen has no relevance in and of itself, and isn’t directly connected to what you hope to do with your life forthwith — the more beautiful it is, the more miserable you will be. Just so you know, reading all the books you haven’t read so far, posting them on Instagram, and having tasteful soirées for the local golf enthusiasts on weekends doesn’t count.

If you are the kind that thinks these places of beauty are perfectly interchangeable and you could settle down just as easily in a seaside town as a mountain resort, you are in for a surprise. A beautiful town isn’t a shape-changing piece in a jigsaw that will magically click into the empty space in your life and make it complete. It isn’t the supporting actor in a story where you are protagonist. It isn’t the bokeh-effect background for pictures with you in the foreground.

That’s what all the travel quotes are telling you. Read them again. Carefully this time.

Tags: international travel, remote work