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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

That one spot



Last Friday I had a walk in the beautiful city of Lund, passing by scores of students and looking out for aggressive cyclists who have no mercy for poor, disoriented pedestrians. My only complaint: "frisk bris," which was neither fresh nor a breeze, more like a very chilly gale (ok, I may be exaggerating, but only slightly).

Then on Sunday it was Copenhagen, with its gorgeous canals, countless stores with impeccable Danish design and manholes with engraved profile of H.C. Andersen.

Finally, yesterday I found myself in Bratislava, bathing in the Indian summer sun, its old town bustling with life. For the first time, I actually liked it.

But as the train crawled back through pretty hillsides of Northern Hungary, taking me "home," I thought about what it would be like if I had to travel like that all the time.Ruslan spent about 70 days on the road last year and I thought that was excessive; he liked it at first, I think, but at some point it weighed down heavily on him. And just the other day julochka talked about one of her previous jobs in which she spent 200 days traveling in one year (for those of you fraction-challenged, that's almost two thirds of the year :).

Would that send my head spinning? No doubt. I think I would feel suspended in some kind of parallel reality of airports, train stations and schedules.

Yesterday I was reminded of something written by Mesa Selimovic, one of my favorite Bosnian writers, who said that travel is all about just one spot, the one from which everything starts and to which you always return, the place that you long for when you are away. Without it, travel would be pointless nomadic roaming leading nowhere; but then, if you only had that one spot and never left it, it would lose all of its worth.

13 comments:

kristina said...

you are so eloquent, putting these thoughts into words!

Jelica said...

*blush blush*

By the way, I am also very happy that we opted out of aerobics--I have traumatic memories of aerobics classes from student days (although, if that guy who was recruiting us was actually the instructor, maybe I'd change my mind :)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

That last paragraph was very well written and very true. I also think that while traveling can be fun, all of us want to leave more on this earth than just footprints across the globe that will only fade away in the sands of time.

Jelica said...

Well said, Squirrel. I don't see a point in zooming past place after place.

Delwyn said...

Hi Jelica

I kind of like that idea of travelling with no fixed destination...but I am afraid I may have missed my youthful backpacking opportunities...

these days I need a comfy bed and a good shower - to myself...
A friend is leaving tomorrow to cycle around Holland and Belgium. I am so envious except for the sleeping in a tiny tent part...- so much easier to travel this way for a man who needs little more than a toothbrush and a change of undies...

Happy days

Dumdad said...

"... travel is all about just one spot, the one from which everything starts . . ." I guess that spot is what we call "home" although that can change too. Home for me is here in Paris with my family although if I were to move back to London or somewhere else then that would become home.

But France isn't my home country, that'll always remain Britain.

julochka said...

you are so smart. and it's not just because you do fractions. you're deep and you think about the world and express yourself beautifully. i love that. i guess we're all just hoping we have an amazing space to come back to when we go out into the world.

Ruslan said...

You are launching an interesting discussion, Jelica.

In the recent Tony Judt's article on Leszek Kolakowski he said LK was never rootless and he was 'neither in place not even completely out of place'. I think LK found a good compromise saying that 'diversity, so long as it is not idolized as an objective in its own right, is a more prudent aspiration and one that can only be assured by preservation of distinctive national identities.

It's the same issue that we discussed yesterday: there is no travel without a starting place (the national/regional/city identity) - there is only roaming.

Or, also as Constantin Cavafy sais in his beautiful poem Ithaca 'Ithaca gave to you the beautiful journey; without her you’d not have set upon the road. But she has nothing left to give you any more.'

:-)

Jelica said...

Dumdad, it was very shrewd of you to use the word home for "the spot"--I was thinking whether my spot is Budapest, or is it simply any place where the boys are waiting for me? Because Budapest is not really home, but then Serbia isn't either. So I'm basically homeless :)

B said...

Very interesting. I always thought about travelling as a means to scape the place where it all starts. But I'm feeling that more and more is about finding that place that I can call home. The place that I'd be coming back to in the future.

MissBuckle said...

Travelling, seeing things in another perspective, is a catalyst for me. It´s not where you come from, or where you are going, but seing what is all around you.

And thank you for explaining the fractions. I actually explained the whole fraction/apperture thing to a collegue today.

spudballoo said...

Gah, she used the F word...;-)

Hmm, surely nomadic, not homeless? Home is where the heart is, that's the English expression. Pretty much sums it up for me.

That photo is outstandingly good btw, that's a tough shot to expose correctly.FAB!Where is it? x

Jelica said...

It was taken in Copenhagen, of course--where else would they have such fabulous signs :)

I processed it a little bit in Photoshop but only in terms of shadow/highlights (that's normally the only kind of processing I would do). Is that cheating?...