I first chose to write this blog for two reasons: one, to be a resource, however small, for family and friends and two, more importantly, to leave a legacy for my progeny. I have no antiques, special china, precious stamps or any such tangibles to leave them, but I can spill some digital ink creating a memoir for those who might follow in the future. Perhaps, one of them would be inquisitive enough to browse through these pages.
These days, as I travel and write a post, I often think about how much my parents might appreciate a place or a certain experience. The tulip fields in Seattle would have been the perfect place for my mom to visit. Harvard would be a place my dad would have thoroughly enjoyed visiting. While mom is more of a homebody, my father enjoys visiting places and gaining new experiences. Although he regrets not having traveled much, I tend to disagree.
Travel is much more than visiting a place, snapping a few photos, checking things off the bucket-list. Travel is about being open to new people, places and being fearless. Travel is about enriching oneself and others, about being determined and patient. Travel is about learning to change, to grow, to inspire and be inspired. It’s about giving everyone an equal chance and being respectful. Its about nature and nurture. And a lot more!
Rendered fatherless as a teenager, my father suddenly became the breadwinner for a small family of three, including my grandmother and aunt. A promise given to my grandfather to care for them meant that he stood by their side, through thick and thin. My siblings and I were fortunate to have my grandmother with us while growing up. And she remained with my parents until her death at a ripe age of 103. If traveling means being steadfast, then my dad has traveled a lot.
Forced to work right out of high school, he found a job with the federal government that would last a lifetime. To think he was only a year or two older than my daughter and shouldering such daunting responsibilities, makes his life’s journey very inspiring to me. He was always an avid reader and remains to this day. A newspaper fanatic, he read everyday to educate himself. In fact, I can’t remember a single day, growing up, when we did not have a newspaper in our home. It’s a ritual I miss, in a day when the news gets delivered right to ones fingertips, literally! If travel is about learning and shaping oneself anew, then my father has traveled!
What I am most proud about is the fact that my father went on to obtain a Bachelor’s, a Master’s degree and eventually a law degree. All while working and raising kids. I remember him vividly, some nights, dozing off in front of his books as he prepared for one exam or another. If travel means finding opportunities and pursuing them, despite day-to-day struggles, then my dad has certainly traveled.
By the time my father retired from service, he was a senior office in a division of the government where bribes and corruption could make one super rich. While many colleagues, both above and below his cadre, took advantage of such opportunities to line their pockets with ill gained fortunes, my dad remained untouched by the slime. He always maintained that being able to sleep with a clean conscience was more important than wealth that could be lost in a day. From the most junior to the highest ranked colleague, my father treated all alike. In turn, he was well liked by all, and respected for his ethics and integrity. If travel is about being non judgemental and showing respect for the chosen path, then my father has journeyed well!
As a parent now, I realize how much unconditional love and support all of us children had from my parents. Although we were raised in a conservative home, my dad had no qualms about letting us pursue our fields of study. Nor did he object to my moving away to a far off city for college. This, at a time, when phones were scarce and letters took a week to reach. I cannot imagine doing such a thing, for even a week, with my kids! But our parents’ absolute confidence in our abilities gave us the courage and determination to push ahead and forge a good life for ourselves. Not hard, when one is standing on the shoulders of giants!! If travel is about nature and nurture, then my father has been the consummate traveler!
For someone who has seen immense technological growth, he has slowly adopted emails, browsers, Skype, Whatsapp in daily life. He has been retired for nearly 20 years now but continues to stay busy with some project or the other, ever pushing forward. Little wonder then that the line “And miles to go before I sleep” in the Robert Frost poem has always been his favorite. It may be true that he did not have the opportunity to visit distant lands and explore like others. But as a father, he has given us life, taught us well and set us free to soar.
Quintessential travel is the same way. It creates a road for us journey on, teaches us what we seek to learn, and lets us soar with the knowledge, the memories and the richness of that experience.
Dad, in that sense, you are the quintessential traveler! I am inspired by you and immensely proud to be your daughter! Thank you for being the best dad!
Happy Father’s Day!!