As I begin to write this, several quotes about traveling come to my mind. Travel is all that and more to me. It is a therapy at times, the pull of that open road in front of me is too strong to resist, despite the pitfalls. Being a journalist gives me all the more reason to travel, though I must admit, the chances are not often as I would like them to be.
Traveling on work has lost its charm though, not that the next time it comes up, I will pass. In the nearly one year that I have been working as a business correspondent, I have traveled to several cities, some that I had never been too, some familiar haunts. One thing I have realized is that all the metros look the same, another reason why I hate globalization. All the cities have the branded stores, the Baristas, Coffee Days, the beggars, the swanky offices, the squares, the malls. The result, MG Road in Pune looks like Commercial Street in Bangalore that reminds you of Banjara Hills in Hyderabad that could pass off for Connaught Place that is quite similar to whatever is the equivalent in Mumbai and Chennai. If you ask me, cities have lost their charm altogether, there is absolutely nothing that distinguishes one from the other. Not even the language these days, no thanks to IT and the rest of all that is not too right with the world.
I sound cynical. I am. I hate the way cities are losing their character. Just for arguments sake you could say that Mumbai has its dabba-wallahs and Dharavi, Delhi its Parliament House, cheap clothes and Dilli Haat and Bangalore its weather and all that. But if you were to be taken, blind folded, to some city, deposited in the middle of the teeming traffic or taken to the hip area and asked to identify it, chances are that you would only be able to try guessing. I hate the way you get lac bangles at every souvenir store, the way you can buy Karachi biscuits everywhere. I loathe to realise that I can not take back any souvenir from any city, I might as well buy them at convenience in another city, maybe for a slightly higher place.
I like tradition and nostalgia, I do not think they are in any way a hindrance to development. I have a list of things that I wish had not changed with the world, they include writing letters, meeting friends physically and other simple things. I have just added the lack of joy in traveling to a city to that list.