Friday, September 02, 2011

I'm shipping up to Cologne

There is a short story by Ruskin Bond whose details I have largely forgotten. But essentially it is about an Englishman who meets an elderly Indian and they soon start chatting about England. They soon start talking about the natural beauty of the country and of how the people from different parts each have their own different perspectives. The Indian seems to know a lot about the country, often more than the Englishman; however at the end it is revealed that the Indian has never stepped foot outside his own country and all his knowledge was from reading countless books about England.

The story resonated with me at some level. Since a young age, I was fascinated with all the different countries in the world. I knew the capitals of all of the countries in the world and spent hours poring over the big globe in my house, trying to learn as much as I could about the world. Even today, I love watching travel shows; the endless variety of cultures, geographies and the people themselves still fascinates me. Yet, I had never actually been to any of these places. I was like the elderly Indian from Ruskin Bond's story, a plethora of arm chair knowledge, but without any personal experiences.

So now is a good time to set the record straight. For those who do not know, I will be spending the next academic term as an exchange student at the University of Cologne. For me, the exchange programme was one of the key attractions of an MBA from an IIM, ever since I first heard about the programme from Abhishek Nagaraj. And now the dream has become a reality. If all goes according to plan, I would have visited around 15 countries by the end of the year, spending more than three months studying European culture, history, geography and hopefully a bit of management studies as well.

Today, I finally start my Europe trip. It promises to be an amazing journey, and I plan to make the most of it. And I plan to post about my journeys on a regular basis, as well upload a few pictures. And for today, I will begin the trip with a bit of travel advice from Douglas Adams. It seems quite fitting to pay tribute to him, afterall the idea of the Hitchhiker's series came to him while back packing through Europe. So like a good traveller, I shall remember where my towel is, and also remember the two words written in large friendly letters on the cover of a remarkable book.

No comments: