Someone I know keeps a lot of birds as pets at home. He was recently jesting about how many animal-lovers complain about people keeping birds in cages.
“But you do realise it restricts the movement and freedom of the birds, don’t you?” I said.
“But it’s a huge cage,” he argued.
“Certainly not as big as the open skies,” I said.
This conversation got me thinking.
How would it be if I couldn’t leave my home? How would it be if I couldn’t leave my city? How would it be if I couldn’t leave my country?
Everything would have been different. I would have been an entirely different person.
It was then that I realised how fortunate I was for being able to travel.
There are times when I complain about the limitations of an Indian passport. Nearly every country you want to go to requires you to get a visa first and the process usually involves a lot of paperwork and hassle. On more than one occasion I had wished I had one of those awesome passports that let you travel to 150 countries or more without having to worry about visa.
But then, the Indian passport is not so bad either. There are some fifty countries, including Maldives, Thailand and Bolivia, where an Indian passport holder is given visa on arrival and I feel thankful for my Indian passport when I think about that.
There are times I feel I would have been able to travel more and further if I earned more. I have been thinking of going to South America for a long time. But the biggest problem about that is the super-high airfares from India.
But making more money doesn’t necessarily mean being able to travel more. There can be so many things that hold you back — illness, family issues, getting leaves and what not. I realise there are so many people I know who earn much more than me but hardly ever travel.
I am going to Norway in a few days to see the northern lights (that’s the intention, whether I will see it or not is plain luck). Nearly everyone who has not seen the aurora borealis and knows about my trip wants to do the trip themselves. What’s stopping them? In most cases, it’s not the amount of money they earn.
There are plenty of instances of people earning pots of money but being unable to find enough free time to spend it.
I met a girl in the Netherlands who said she’d like to travel like I was doing but could not because she was ill and had to go to the hospital every fifteen days. It made me sad and also realise how privileged I was.
Understand this. If you are someone who loves to travel and are able to do it, even if it is not as much as you’d like to do, you have reason to be thankful for your situation. I know I am.