I am taking the road again to Kolhapur tomorrow. Here’s a modified note that I wrote a few days ago.
Travelling by road is much more romantic; though I used to believe that air travel was more romantic. There was even train travel, associated with romance. I hardly travel by train – they don’t let you smoke in peace. Well, they don’t let you smoke anywhere! Well, actually it’s not that air travel or train travel is less romantic, the definition of what constitutes romance has probably changed.
There is romance in contemporary journey too, though the nature of romance has changed. It’s probably the one that Ayn Rand talked of. Something like the passion of Howard Roark; like the determination of Dagny Taggart.
Romance, it seems has many faces. The most obvious face; probably the most trite of them all. The cupid face. Also the most sought after. And because this hackneyed form of romance, which is a refined form of mush, is on everybody’s mind, it has those many failures. It has been ritualised and made common place. There is nothing essentially wrong with the mushy face of romance, just the overuse has caused wear and tear.
Candle light dinners, walks on the beach, getting wet in the rain, and the like. Is it romantic to balance your bank accounts or write software together? Maybe, maybe not.
But there is still romance in travel. Not obvious, but it exists. In the nearly honest smile of an immigration officer, (yes, I have seen them smile) in the sleepy eyes of the ticketing agent, in the rule book adherence of a rookie, in the eyes struggling to stay open when waiting for a delayed flight.
In the purpose of the travel, in the curiosity of the destination.
Hopeless optimists these, romantic travellers. Discovering romance in loneliness, in travelling alone, to meet a loved one, or going away from one. The most unconventional of all – the romantic business traveller – in anticipation of closing a deal, in the hope of a big break.
What romantic travellers like me find most unromantic is the call for security check for flight AI 123 to Chicago via London Heathrow on 30 November, 2004, leaving a beautiful thought unfinished.
Maybe there is romance in that…