The Travel Bug - Suresh Naganathan

The Travel Bug


Cambodia - 2016

Cambodia - 2016

Every tree grows from a single seed.

Around 10 years ago, a seed was planted in my brain when I found a book in a train, "L'Usage du Monde"  by Nicolas Bouvier (The Way of the World in English).  The book narrated his travels with his friend Thierry Vernet from Geneva to the Khyber Pass,  and the seed had taken root.

Ever since I read the book, these two men and their travels had begun to form deep roots in my brain. It conjured up in me, dreams of travels, of adventures, of random encounters and unplanned journeys which grew and overshadowed everything else. I wanted to find my own way of the world.

I jumped at every occasion I could to travel. The formula was always the same: book a flight ticket to a country and then go wherever the road, air or water took me. These trips that lasted from a long week-end up to 3 weeks comprised the moments that I felt the most free, yet within my mind, the tree kept growing.

Over the years, the 2-3 weeks of holiday never felt quite enough. By the time I was really getting into the groove of the travel, it was already time to return home. I started aspiring to do longer travels, to become a nomad for a few months, to be on a trip where there was no end in sight.

In 2016, this dream finally came true. I took a sabbatical from work and started my long desired journey. There was no plan, no itinerary, just a starting point and a general direction on where to go. In July, I took a one-way ticket to Cambodia and until my accident in Myanmar, I let myself be carried through South-East Asia.

The weeks leading to the trip were a mixed bag of emotions; excitement, an anticipation of new encounters not knowing what tomorrow will bring or where I will sleep in one week's time.  There was also a fear of the unknown. I was leaving behind a comfortable life & loved ones at 36 for the discomfort of bumpy bus rides, of nights in hostels with strangers and of cheap food on the street. 

There was pressure as well. Over the years, a romanticized version of my previous travels crystallized in my mind.  There is a usually a tendency to forget boring or 'normal' days and keep just the key moments (like getting attacked by monkeys in China, sleeping on the streets in Varanasi during Shivaratri or spending one day as a monk in South Korea). What if I couldn't live up to these stories? What if I got bored after a month and decided to come back home?

All these questions and doubts that had crept into my mind vanished the moment I hopped into the plane. The flow took over and my journey had begun.

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