11 May 2015

The Many Meanings of Safe Travels

Being at home can sometimes be just as dangerous as leaving it.  This is particularly so when becoming a victim of an accident,  illness, natural disaster or criminal act.  Here in Australia, we have often experienced natural disasters, and cultural ones.

Sometimes, people need to find the road to recovery.

Sometimes, people need to travel to escape drought, floods and fires.

Sometimes, travel becomes a language expedition.

Sometimes, the digital environment for travels is not safe.

Sometimes, the economic aspects of travelling are not as secure and stable as they could be.

In 1985, I spent Christmas in Kathmandu.  My travels had taken me overland from London during the preceding months.

I had seen many aspects of Nepal, and all the countries in between en route there.  Everyone in the group I was with had arrived safely. We had much to celebrate after an eventful ten week journey, even with gastrointestinal unpleasantness on more than one occasion.

My reasons for going on that journey were many.  Seeing the real world was what interested me, especially after working in the production of television news and current affairs. 

Small screens show little more than snapshots, much like my grainy photographs of that time.  Finding the truth of the world is difficult when our minds are distorted by our own perceptions, impressions and expectations.

I know my travels have often been a mixture of the sublime, the superlative and the soggy.

I know I often reflect on the reasons for travels.

I know that your amazing journey into existence has not been quite the same as mine.

I know that I usually enjoy reflecting on times and places, regardless of whether I have experienced them or not.  Times can be remembered, imagined and even documented.  Places can be documented too, or at least the frozen moments in time in various places can be kept in some form.

The more I travel the more I think about the meaning of going home.  When travels are not as safe as we hope they will be, there may be no going home at all.

I have visited many places in the world where earthquakes have occurred and volcanoes have erupted. My good fortune is that I have never been in those places at such times. 

The roads in Australia are dangerous enough but often not as dangerous as those elsewhere.

Yet safe travels today also mean being able to maintain some privacy, especially to prevent identity theft.  I know that privacy and travel can mean different things to different people.  The Nepalese people I met certainly thought about privacy differently than I did.

The survivors of any sort of disaster are those who manage to escape danger.  It is well known that global prosperity means little to those who have lost everything.