The zeitgeist of pandemic stricken, lost summer has proven to be a fertile ground for me. I am processing and internalizing all the things I have seen so far in my life while traveling across many countries for more than a decade. I am connecting the dots of influence made on me by the confluence of culture, science, history, politics, and technology of the countries I witnessed during my travels. Hence, I am charting the path of my becoming – a traveler, a blogger, a storyteller, and a photographer. All four personas influence my work from four different perspectives, tied together by a string of thoughts and narratives. This summer, although I am not traveling physically, I have not stopped observing and all the four personas are very much active in me. The traveler in me is listening to the voices from past summers and remembering their glimpses – crowded European streets, squares, and cafes, hiking on a wild trail in America with fellow hikers, and listening to a fascinating old saga in an old city in India with fellow curious travelers, historians, monks, and archeologists. The blogger in me is diligently noting down the whispers of the present – the lost summer. The photographer in me is visualizing and imagining scenes of future summers. I took the pen on behalf of the storyteller to narrate the interplay of emotions, apprehensions, and anticipations created by the confluence of summers in my mind; the juxtaposition of experiences and imaginations.
The traveler in me is listening to the voices from past summers and remembering their glimpses. #Summer #Travel Click To Tweet I am connecting the dots of influence made on me by the confluence of culture, science, history, politics, and technology of the countries I witnessed during my travels. #Travel #Wanderlust Click To Tweet
As we learn to bear the intimacy of scrutiny and to flourish within it, as we learn to use theAudre Lorde
products of that scrutiny for power within our living, those fears which rule our lives and form
our silences begin to lose their control over us.
Voices from past summers
Ever since I started writing, I feel that writing is my panacea and my blog, Travel Realizations, a digital narrative laboratory. I nurture my feelings, respect them, and transpose them into a language that matches those feelings so that they can be shared. Hence, during this weird summer of 2020, I am remembering those beautiful warm months I was lucky enough to have experienced. I decided to pen down the incidents or moments of this lost summer that reminded me of those gone by. I use words to overlay the world before me with a parade of images from the mind’s theatre. Words are my companion, armor, and tool.I took the pen on behalf of the storyteller to narrate the interplay of emotions, apprehensions, and anticipations created by the confluence of summers in my mind; the juxtaposition of experiences and imaginations. #Travel Click To Tweet
One summer Monday
Around the afternoon, while working on a writing assignment, I rushed out to the balcony for some fresh air. It was a very hot summer day and I secretly wished for a summer rain. Although the rain didn’t make me wet that day but memories splashed and sprinkled water from a rainy day.
One summer Tuesday
In the olden times, say a decade ago, my baggage used to be the thoughts, the layers of emotions, regrets, apprehensions, or anticipations regarding the relationships with other human beings. I used to work on them and one by one I succeeded in decreasing my baggage. I stopped minding little things. I understood forgiving is relaxing. I realized, let go is the best mantra. Nowadays my erstwhile burden has been replaced by digital baggage – a barrage of notifications never leave me in peace, no matter where I go. On one Tuesday, I felt claustrophobic amidst the innumerable notifications. I just wanted to go away and disconnect. I wanted to go into the wilderness and remember my visit to Glacier National Park.
One summer Wednesday
I was still in the bed and the doorbell rang twice in the morning, ting-tong, ting-tong. It took me a couple of minutes to open the door. When I opened no one was there but a few packets with some essential items were delivered. I wanted to exchange a smile, a simple hello but alas! I took all the bags and kept them inside and wished to be in a crowded place full of human faces with varied emotions. And then like a flash, glimpses of the crowded Charles Bridge in Prague ran through my mind. Why Prague? I have no idea.
One summer Thursday
I was mindlessly switching from one app to another on my phone; read the news, replied to some messages on my Instagram and Twitter, read an article from the New York Times, and then kept it aside. Nothing was stimulating enough. I craved to visit a museum and immerse myself in someone else’s world like I did last year. It was a fascinating world of Andy Warhol. But this summer, it is all about the memories we created in the past.
One summer Friday
While relaxing with a book in my balcony in the evening, a waft of lukewarm air brought the smell of nearby trees. It felt like the smell of pine needles I see in the forests of California every summer. Before I knew it, my mind took me away into the woods.
The contemplation of beauty causes the soul to grow wings!Plato
One summer Saturday
Every evening nowadays, I make it a point to see the setting sun. I stand and stare and remain silent, as suffused shades of orange stretch over the horizon. Meanwhile, the sun, like a painter who keeps changing his mind about which colors to use, finally resolves everything with shades of pink and light yellow, before sinking, finally, into stunning whiteness. Suddenly, I feel uplifted, pulled out of the small, ordinary day, and taken to a realm far richer and more eloquent than anything I know. Beautiful sunsets that I have seen during my travels pop up in my mind.I feel uplifted, pulled out of the small, ordinary day, and taken to a realm far richer and more eloquent than anything I know. #Travel Click To Tweet
One summer Sunday
Being an expat, a longing for my home country is omnipresent. I often feel the ethereal coexistence between the two worlds within. On one Sunday morning, I received a message that my grandma is no more. I wanted to go for a walk towards a lake without any purpose. But alas, the reality was harsh. The wildfires in California were raging and engulfing forests and towns. The smoke from the fires enshrouded the sky, diffracting the sunlight into its orangish components. Ominous lights were everywhere. While the thoughts of my childhood came into my mind one by one, I also imagined myself sitting beside Lake Geneva in Switzerland, a place that I called home for six years. A few days later I realized how my reality has blurred geographical borders. My childhood days in India and my contemplative days in Lausanne consumed my thoughts here in California. The horizon of our mind is elastic for sure!Being an expat, a longing for my home country is omnipresent. I often feel the ethereal coexistence between the two worlds within. #Travel Click To Tweet
Whispers from a lost summer
The engine of production got somewhat disrupted when the virus started proliferating across the barriers of borders. The breakneck speed of profit and economic progress slowed, the rhythm of regular life halted and the human to human contact, which was decreasing anyways, became completely virtual. All of us coped. We as the members of the homo sapien species have always adapted to extreme situations and this time too was not an exception. Each of us is reacting to the situation in our own ways. I decided to do so creatively, by engaging in a pursuit of conscious contentment. Of course, there is no denying that I am privileged to do so. During this period, I completely calmed myself down and tried to make sense of this unprecedented strangeness in my own way. I tried to seek answers from the past. I started with the novel “The Plague” by Albert Camus.
It was undoubtedly the feeling of exile, that sensation of a void within, which never left us, that irrational longing to hark back to the past or else to speed up the march of time, and those keen shafts of memory that stung like fire.The plague, Albert Camus
I tried to understand the actions of technology-driven, organized, industrial farming, and food supply. I contemplated about the cause, which led to this pandemic. My realizations were depressing but I looked up to those who can fill me with hope. Greta Thunberg certainly was one of them. I or you, alone can’t make any difference, together we can. After all, ‘United we stand, divided we fall‘. No matter how strong the promise of technology, unless we all understand the consequences of climate change, extensive industrial animal farming, and our ever-growing consumption habits, and strive together for an alternative, we can’t keep our mother earth safe and secure for the children of today and tomorrow. When growth and consumption become supreme good, unrestricted by ethical and moral considerations, catastrophe is unavoidable.
We must change almost everything in our current societies. The bigger your carbon footprint – the bigger your moral duty. The bigger your platform – the bigger your responsibility. Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to given them hope.’
But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.
I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.Greta Thunberg
I imagined the future after the chaos. Science will eventually solve the problem of this pandemic but that will not make us immune to the next one.
The balance of nature is not a status quo; it is fluid, ever shifting, in a constant state of adjustment. Man, too, is part of this balance. Sometimes, the balance is in his favor; sometimes – and all too often through his own activities- it is shifted to his disadvantage.Rachel Carson
Monologue with future summers
In the core of my heart, I believe, I am bounded only by the earth, the ocean and the sky. Our wonderful earth with its vastness is before us, but without imagination, we can hardly go anywhere. First, we have to imagine and then the wanderlust will be unstoppable. Hence I am trying to propel the ship of my imagination to distant years from now, guided by ideas and experiences.
I see myself hiking up to Gornergrat to see the iconic Matterhorn with a group of hikers in Switzerland and engaging in bilingual conversation in English and (my broken) French. Previously, I have been to this place once in winter and once during the summer all the way by train. I would love to hike in 2022 amidst the paradise and bucolic landscape of Gornergrat, observing the Matterhorn for long. I will be preparing silently for the hike; gaining physical strength and getting fitter.
In 2026, I will be adding 5 more years to my age. Perhaps I would seek the company of both known and strangers. I have always loved the moments of shared closeness with strangers, on a train, in flight, while hiking, while watching a show, or while standing in a queue. I enjoy listening to other perspectives and world views. I still remember talking with a Lebanese woman in a swimming pool in Lausanne. A short cruise on Lake Lucerne during Christmas filled me with joy when I heard from a 70-year-old person that he goes to the mountains every other day to relax and told me about a few virtues he believes in. But there is a caveat. The way technology is progressing by leaps and bounds every day and filling our lives with screens and gadgets, I wonder whether there will be a spontaneous scope to break a conversation with a complete stranger! Nevertheless, I would love to explore Norway once more – a place where the strong sole connection that awaits us is nature.
Summer in the distant future
Sometime in the distant future, I would love to visit Paris again. I have a secret desire to see lovers romancing and immersed in each other and wandering the streets of the city of love. No matter how much technology proliferates, I hope that love will remain the highest unchanged virtue for all of us. Hence the quintessential city of lights and love will be my summer destination after 16 years. How is this choice friends?
To breathe Paris is to preserve one’s soul.Victor Hugo
In a world so upside down, I am taking every opportunity to envelop more of good old memories and experiences into my reality and into my being and creating something new out of it. I am never satisfied with the dull routines of daily life. I actively seek to get new insights, appropriate for now – the powerful present. Writing always helps me to organize my thoughts. A realm where reality, memory, experiences, and realizations create an enriching and fertile confluence – the prosaic poetry of being.Writing always helps me to organize my thoughts. A realm where reality, memory, experiences, and realizations create an enriching and fertile confluence – the prosaic poetry of being. #Writing Click To Tweet
Consistency is the playground of dull minds.Yuval Noah Harari
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Even though, we haven’t met, we can still share some time together. Let our thoughts meet. Let the conversation begin. Gift yourself a few minutes of creative solitude. Tell me, which one piqued your attention?
I read this, and I wonder, where is this lost summer? When you have gained so much from having to pause and reflect over the summer, is it lost, or essential?
No, science cannot make us immune. It is like the knowledge that has us understand why we get burned if we jump in a fire, put guards between us and the fire, give us protection from fire in case we fall in the fire… but insight & wisdom is what will restrain us from jumping in the fire or coming near at all. And reflective summers like this is when you grow such things.