Monday, September 12, 2005

What tourism means to me?

Tourism, to me, is not only about visiting places. It also means knowledge. Knowledge of the unknown. Knowledge of cultures. Knowledge of habits. Knowledge which break myths. Knowledge that doesn’t let perceptions to cloud our vision.

To me, tourism means acceptance. Acceptance that happens through greater mobility between states, countries, races, civilizations and continents. Accepting people as they are and not as they seem to be or as what we read in books. Accepting societies as they have evolved over the years and not as we would like them to evolve.

And acceptance means peace. When you accept things, people or civilizations as they are, the chances of conflict become rare. And at this point of our history, both on the domestic front and internationally, acceptance is a much-needed virtue. Acceptance is the key to a future sans 9/11s or tube blasts.

Tourism, to me, is not only about witnessing historical monuments. It is also about experiencing history. History which can teach us more than a thing or two about how to make our future better. History that can inspire us to rewrite history itself.

Standing amidst the remnants of Golconda fort does remind me of the opulence of the Qutub Shahi kings but more than that it reminds me of strife, of struggle, of victory, of blood and of sweat. It also reminds me that nothing is impossible if a person has the will to attain it. And that’s what Aurangzeb did. Even after repeated failed attempts to win the fort, he kept trying till his faith cracked the rock-solid walls of the fort.

Tourism is about human aspiration. The aspiration to climb the highest mountain; cross the largest ocean; touch the cloud or even seeing the shadow of a tree from a plane. Adventure tourism is not only about stretching one’s limit but also knowing the unlimited and the unexplored.

Tourism is about exploring one’s inner self. Father of the Nation Mahtama Gandhi got his purpose of life when he travelled the length and breadth of the country. Since time immemorial, scores of people have come to India from abroad and have experienced the life beyond life. And some like Mother Teresa have even attained immortality.

The transition of King Ashoka is not just a flash in the pan. There are Ashokas in every century. It just that not every person that gets a new view towards life through a journey has a royal lineage. Even a Richard Gere or a Steve Waugh have had their share of journeys to India resulting in fighting for a social cause or adopting a spiritual path.

For me, tourism is life. It is just like any other Ism. It’s a doctrine based on fairly well-worked-out principles and it is part of a broader theory or system. That broader theory is peace. That broader objective is acceptance. That broader picture is knowledge.

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