Going Faster, But Where?

Since the year 2000, The Economist and Shell join forces on an annual basis to create an international writing competition that encourages future thinking. According to its website, to date, about 7,500 people from over 148 countries have taken part in the competitions, with a select few winning prizes worth more than US$ 60,000 each year!

I was going through the work of some of its past winners, when I chanced upon a short but poignant essay on the subject of sustainability of 21st century travel. This brief essay called "A Ramble to Africa" (PDF) seemed to have captured the essence of the subject very well. In a short span of 3 pages, it makes some insightful observations on Travel, and on Life… and is definitely worth a read.

A few excerpts :

…Slow travel…has mainly been about learning again and again and again that most people are poor, a very few people are exceedingly rich and doing nicely, corruption is normal, clean water is precious and good people everywhere are doing what they can.

(Fast Travel)…Instead of bringing people closer and facilitating mutual understanding and awareness of global issues, it is dividing the world more sharply in two, the rich and the poor. Naturally most tourists on their two-week holiday do not want to be confronted by poverty and disease or reminded that the soup they just ordered costs twice the waiter’s daily wage.

For many people cruising has become a permanent lifestyle…Some of us have loosened our grip on the illusion of security and given up homes and jobs to travel the oceans for a while and just see what happens. It is not a way of getting anywhere. It is a way of being wherever you are.

Travelling fast, but where are you going? Travelling slowly, always at home.

As I said before…this one’s definitely worth a read !

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  1. reminds me of a story I heard – of how the african bushmen – whilst travelling sometimes stop and wait awhile because if they run too fast “their souls cannot catch up”.

  2. made the effort to read the essay running into three pages.the best part of the essay was the extract you had included in your entry.otherwise it is an interesting travelogue at best.in the last two years i was fortunate to travel to different locales.Planning for the visit included among other mundane tasks,reading the Lonely Planet guide or navigating the net for information on the best sights not to be missed at our destination.out of a greed to cover as many spots as i could, we set off at a frenetic pace tiring ourselves out more often than not, in a race against time in pursuit of maximising value.it was the mindset of a tourist and not that of a vacationer, at play.i could have relaxed myself yet the desire to see as much as i could that occasioned such behaviour.while i think about it i feel it was another form of materialistic consumption at work,wanting to seek value for the limited resources i could dispose in return for the pleasure of recalling seeing much rather than living those moments we are victims of our mindsets.

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