If there is one thing that we, as living souls, unanimously agree on cherishing, it has to be the idea of exploring new places. The growing popularity of Instagram and Snapchat have further romanticized the concept of travel, and given birth to ‘wanderlust’. There are, however, a lot of myths associated with travelling. Once such travel myth is the idea of ‘living like a local’.
Whenever we visit a new city, we struggle to experience the place from the eyes of a local. I cannot tell you how big an illusion that is.
Travel Myth Busted
The year was 2002. My teenaged self was super excited at the prospect of travelling to a new city for a school trip. As we reached the New Delhi Railway Station, our host welcomed us with a warm smile. Despite the packed schedule, our generous host made sure that we visited all the important attractions in the capital city of India. In two days, we had already covered Old Delhi, Connaught Place, Qutab Minar, India Gate and several other historical monuments. Agra was also part of our itinerary; but due to time constraints, we had to drop the idea and board the return train.
Cut to 2016. I moved to the national capital to start my professional life. I knew I was going to be around for a while. It’s been more than a year, and I have only managed to revisit India Gate and Jama Masjid once. The other places are still part of my bucket list.
Weekends come and go, and I keep postponing my visits to the subsequent holiday, knowing fully that I will probably be sleeping through the day.
Most of the people I know here, the so called ‘locals’ of Delhi, echo my experience. A colleague of mine recently told me that the last time she visited the Red Fort was in her final year of school. She never had the urge to revisit the place anytime soon, because she got caught in other things like graduation, getting a job and finding a suitable match.
Always Out of Time
Another incident that comes to my mind is when I visited a friend in Bhubaneswar. Despite living there for almost a year, she had never been to Puri, Konark or even the cave temples of Udaygiri and Khandgiri, which are just a half an hour drive from her home. She admitted that she could never find the time to visit any of these places. She was either working or doing household chores.
The travel myth is further reinforced in my eating habits as well. During my previous year in Delhi, I have always been on a quest to find food that makes me feel closer to home.
I still haven’t been to most of the popular food joints here. However, when I was in Jaipur for just a day, I made it a point to try the authentic Rajasthani thali and the quintessential laal maas. I knew I wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon. Therefore, I tried to make the most of whatever time I had in the Pink City.
How many ‘locals’ do you find in your city, who roam around the streets with their cameras, trying to soak in the uniqueness of the place? It is only when you look at your surroundings from a tourist’s eyes that you start appreciating the beauty in minute details. It is only when you are on a tight schedule that you try to make the most of your time at a new place.
We make a lot of efforts to experience a place like the locals; whereas, our efforts should be more focused on living like a tourist, wherever we go.