Travel My Greatest Teacher. Happy Travel Day!Anand Parameswaran
I have met many good teachers and great teachers, but I realized later in my life that travel has been my greatest teacher. Travel molded my way of thinking – even aspirations, tamping some and amplifying others…
For instance, I learnt more about the management concept of “Effectuation” in making do with what you have and Entrepreneurship from my travel to Laos than from B-school or work… Ban Napia, the Village of Spoons in Laos, has a great back-story – the country and especially this region, was profusely bombed during the Vietnam war pushing many regions into stark poverty and very limited resources. At the end of the war, all that the villagers had was abject poverty, subsistence farming, very less education, lots of still-live underground land mines and the lots of discarded Aluminium shells of bombs and bullets. The villagers go through these areas and get the aluminum, smelt it in their backyard smelters, pour it into moulds to make spoons for selling. It is sold to tourists, or to middle men who sell it at the cities. This is a beautiful way of showing what effectuation is – making do with what one has, instead of whining and crying for what one doesn’t have – a lesson for every entrepreneur… And possibly everyone else don’t you think… 😉
It is like how Tyrion Lannister in the Game of Thrones says, “Never forget what you are, the rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you”. Their weakness in the village was they had only “useless” Aluminium scrap, they used it as their armor and now the village has a way of sustenance.
Similarly, staying in an igloo in the Arctic to notice the heating, the way the windows are made, the way it keeps out the wind, keeps out the cold, etc., is a great education in architecture with respect for the elements and a kind of Vastu, don’t you think?
Or the diet of the natives and culture that have been influenced by demographic and climatic conditions – like the predominantly reindeer diet infused with berries in the Arctic or the spicy food in South-east Asia or the different local liquors from Akkevit to Rakija and Vodka to Sopi and Sake to Lao Lao… Quite a lesson in adaptation isn’t it?
I can go on and on about the experiences I have gained from travel – The orangutans from Borneo, The group dynamics in whoops of gorillas of Africa, the pure-bred horses from Iceland, The heating systems in Iceland, The personification of volcanoes in Icelandic lore, The legends behind the conservation of Komodo dragons in Indonesia, and so on…
These are things that I had heard of, read and learnt, but understood fully only after I experienced it… Only when I experienced it, it came into perspective. And the people – the wide variety of people who one meets, who all teach something or the other on life and its vagaries… whether it be lessons on home brewing booze from the oldest bootlegger that I have met (in Laos) or the cuckoo clock manufacturer in the Blackforest region in Germany or the boatman in Luang Prabang or the bullet-memento maker in Sarajevo and many, many, more across the countries that I have travelled to… They have all been teachers for me…
Experiences are what travel provides and these experiences lead you to higher levels of knowledge.
The Buddhists have a great way of distinguishing this… They talk of 3 kinds of knowledge:
- Knowledge that is based on thinking – Cinta-maya-panna
- Knowledge that is based on learning – Suta-maya-panna
- Knowledge that is based on mental development after experiencing – Bhavana-maya-panna
Most teachers and books aid the 2nd kind – Suta-maya-panna… But true realisation comes with experience – Bhavana-maya-panna… Knowledge from experience ensures that it doesn’t stay in the mind only… it just becomes second nature for you and possibly changes you…
Travel is that teacher for me – those experiences changed me intrinsically with the power of Bhavana-maya-panna… That’s why for me, Teacher’s Day is actually Travel Day… And I know there is much more knowledge out there waiting for me to tap into and imbibe… That’s what makes this journey of life exciting… That’s why I keep trippin’ on Travel… courtesy, the devilish, lovable Mr. Tripper from Beyonder Experiences, who is constantly tempting me to travel… 😉