“You get to travel a lot, huh?” Every time someone posed this question to me, I would usually respond with an apologetic smile. And then respond that yes, I did get to travel a lot but that I never really got to see the place. You know that t-shirt which says “My friend went to so-and-so place and all he got me was this lousy fridge magnet”? Well, that was the manifestation of my travels. My refrigerator’s upper door was dotted with fridge magnets. A crab for Maryland, a cactus for Phoenix, a crown for Charlotte (Queen’s City they call it for a reason I am not aware of), a cowboy boot for Dallas… all stereotypical images associated with the places they represent – all magnets on my refrigerator. And then I decided to stop buying fridge magnets. Two reasons: one, I figured they served very little purpose and two, at around 5-7 dollars each, I found them expensive!
It was only a couple of trips ago that I resolved to explore a little bit of the place that I was visiting. Enough was enough. No more spending evenings in my hotel room and watching bits and pieces of movies (actually, there is something to be said for movies that you catch from the middle. You not only wonder what will happen towards the end, but you also wonder what happened in the beginning! Double the suspense, eh?). So I went to the famed Alamo and the river walk in San Antonio. I also visited a lovely church downtown. I thought I had turned a corner. But then, when I was in Chicago, I was back to square one. My desire to visit the famed Navy Pier in the windy city was evenly matched by the unenviable task of either a 90 minute drive to and fro through heavy traffic or a 2 hour train ride. Decision making was very much in the present continuous, and then came the thunderstorm to change the tense. The decision was made. Thunder roared, lightning flashed, rain fell. I didn’t go. The next day, I found out that the rain was largely confined to my part of town. Ouch.
Today, I am at Hartford in Connecticut. As soon as I reached my hotel room, I browsed through a city guide which advertised sights to see. Mark Twain’s house was close by it said. Around 20 miles said my cracked Nexus 5. I didn’t think twice. Hopped back into my car, and drove back 20 miles the way I had originally come. Managed to make it to Mark Twain’s opulent home in time for the last tour. More about it tomorrow.
It was a very short visit, and I would have loved to have stayed a little bit longer. Unfortunately for me, it was closing time. I was happy however. I had done what I had resolved to do. To see more of the place I was in, beyond airports, hotel rooms and fried magnet. And there’s something immensely satisfying about that. As there is to writing this blog as well. Because that was another commitment I had made to myself. To start writing daily. Will I be able to keep this second commitment? Well, that’s a daily battle I have to fight for the rest of my life. Today’s just day one.