MIDWAY : Travel trails

Decathlon, a French sportswear company, has found some ideal advertising lines inspired by Nepal. One of its T-shirts reads: A major trekking destination, Nepal is also accessible to those new to long-distance walking. Home to a variety of ethnic groups and landscapes and the highest peaks, Nepal is a country best explored on foot.

Well, we have a country that inspires multinational companies to find their sales mottoes. Granted that we have no trains, no wide highways, no well-expanded airlines network, etc. to enable us to explore every nook and cranny of the country. We have no great quality roads that crisscross the country, either. But is that indispensable, the bottom line being that Nepal is a country best explored on foot?

Travelling is the best education, so goes an old adage. But excluding a very small number of the Nepalis that somehow manage to go abroad in a typical rubberneck’s manner, the remainder’s favourite haunts are places of worship like Muktinath, Pathivara, Manakamana, etc. in Nepal and Varanasi, Bodhgaya, Pushkar, etc. in neighbouring India. And of course, that is primarily done for pilgrimage, not really for tourism. Nevertheless, discovering new places in the garb of pilgrimage is also a kind of tourism.

One wonders whether financial crunch is the only reason why someone chooses to stay cocooned in his or her narrow surroundings. Obviously, it is not. Motivation, I suppose, is the key word. Because there is one simple fact about travelling: it doesn’t necessarily imply going far away from one’s domicile. It doesn’t mean taking a long and costly flight and landing in another country. Therefore, what is important is not where we go, but if we really go to different places for the sake of pleasure, adventure and discovery.

How many among us have seen Everest? It’s quite unintelligible, and even baffling, to note that one should long to see Eiffel Tower, Pyramids or Great Wall without ever wishing to see Everest, a stone’s throw away. And one grumpily bellyaches: I’ve been rejected the visa to go abroad. The moot question is: Does the majestic summit shy away from greeting you, simply because you entered Khumbu Region without a visa?