Travel a way of Life

Candid conversation with Goutam Dutta

by Subhechcha Ganguly

Goutam Dutta has keen interest in riding and travelling apart from being an eminent Author .His books “High on the Hills”, “Glimpses of Life ” shows the true essence of a free spirit .Let us talk to him about his journey till now .

Q1) Travelling is a hobby that is loved by a lot of people . What for you is the most attractive part of travelling ?

Ans : Like any activity that needs to be done well, travelling needs some amount of advance planning. Having prior knowledge of the place of visit- the weather, its typical customs and practices, the topography, must see places of interest, will certainly help in making the trip a worthwhile and enjoyable one. Landing up in a place and then staying cooped up inside the hotel because of excessive rainfall will surely make the trip a wasted one. Planning for a trip in advance therefore is essential and something that I love about making a trip. It is like the “appetizer” before a 5 course meal; it whets the appetite.

Q2) How much does travelling have an impact in your life as an author ?

Ans : Travelling transports to a new place, filled with many promises, anecdotes and tales waiting to be explored in its lanes and residences, nature displaying its resplendence at certain hours and new culture, food, friends waiting to savoured and holding potential of providing a memorable experience. As an author they hold plenty of potential, titillating the mind of the author to pen a memorable write up. My travelogue “High on the Hills” is one such write up that has the tale of a legendary Lepcha king, discovering a new variety of chilly and savouring local wines, making new friends in new places, rediscovering the history of a place that was set up by the British during World war. All these have helped enrich my life.

Q3) Tell us about few places you have visited so far and few things about your experience.

Ans : I have been lucky to have had a job as an export manager for a certain period of my life. That has enabled me to travel to many places, besides the regular travel to destinations on a holiday with family. Many of these travels have given me some wonderful memories to cherish. I would like to mention a visit to Tokyo on work. It gave me an opportunity to experience the Japanese society from close quarters. It was certainly an enriching experience to watch a society that is known for its penchant for customer satisfaction, punctuality and cleanliness, to name a few. I also had an experience to travel to Osaka by the Shinkansen and the sudden unveiling of the Mount Fuji outside the window remains a memory that I will cherish throughout my life. Then a visit to Paris, again during a study course at the London School of Economics, is also special because it was on a day when England was playing France in the World Rugby championship. The excitement of fans, large congregation of fans at the Eiffel tower and witnessing the hype about the age-old rivalry between the two neighbouring countries was an experience that remains etched in my mind even today. Among the many holidays spent with my family, I remember the first trip of our daughter to the sea beach at Puri. It remains special mainly because of the excitement, amazement and fear that our daughter displayed in ample measures as she saw the gigantic waves of the Bay Of Bengal lashing on the shore at regular intervals.

Q4) You have recently visited Doars , Dalimtar and also experienced the sunrise at Takdah .Do you feel these scenic beauties enhance human life ?

Ans : Nature has the power to leave one enraptured with hues, sights and sounds that it often dishes out for willing audience. Silence has a way with its sounds and nothing can be farther from truth than watching a sunset or sunrise in a remote hilly locale. The sun, with its unending source of light and heat is a nurturer of life on earth and this is only evident in a remote location, not fully engulfed by the marauding technology. With sunrise, life begins to stir in the remote hamlets of India; tentative, tenacious at first before picking up pace and making itself evident through sounds and sights of various dimensions. The shrill pitch of a bird initially breaks the silence as the sun gets ready to make its presence felt beyond the hills near the eastern horizon. Somewhere in the bylanes of a hamlet, a dog barks and a cow moos. Sound of a woman’s cough as she begins to light the stove for preparing morning tea for others in the family accentuate the magical aura of the hues that begin to break out tearing through the curtain of mist at the eastern horizon.

The sights and sounds of a sunrise, meant to be savoured in remote locations like Dalimtar or Takdah provide peace and solace from a busy chaotic life in a city.

Q5) Tell us your line of thought on how important travel is for human beings.

Ans : Travel, in words of French novelist Gustave Flaubert, makes one modest as one realises what a tiny place one occupies in this world. Now if one corroborates this with the famous speech by Carl Sagan about the “pale blue dot”, our home-like a moat of dust in the vast expanse of the cosmos, one realises how humbling an experience can travelling be. Modesty is an essential trait of humanity as it is well known that pride often comes before a fall. Human beings often get enveloped in a false pride that they are all knowing and are responsible for nurturing and sustaining this world. Unfortunately, nothing can be farther from truth than this. As Carl Sagan elaborates in his speech, “the earth is a very small stage and our delusion that we have a priviledged position in the universe is challeneged by the point of lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark”. A picture taken from Voyager 1 of the planet Earth as it was leaving the solar system made Carl Sagan reflect, prompting him to speak of the humility that could save the earth and all its inhabitants. Travelling around the world and understanding the diversity that makes up this world is perhaps the only way to delve deeper and realise the significance of this great thought proposed by famous personalities like astronomer Carl Sagan and novelist Gustave Falaubert.

Q6) You have travelled North Bengal in a motorcycle? How was the experience ? How did you overcome the fear of riding a motorcycle after 20 years ?

Ans : India is a land of diversity co-existing like a jigsaw puzzle. North Bengal is one part of this puzzle that offers green landscapes like the sprawling tea gardens, pine forests harbouring the reclusive Red Panda, roads snaking their way through hills green with vegetation and a cuisine that warms the cockles of the heart.

Travelling to this place in a motorcycle was like the proverbial icing on the cake as it enabled me to make unscheduled stop on the road and breathe in the sights and smells of the wonderful place that North Bengal is all about. When the great Kanchenjunga unveiled itself in all its majesty at the horizon, we forgot everything and stopped to gaze at this splendour.

Riding the motorcycle on narrow winding trails of the hills was not easy, more so because I was riding a motorcycle again, after a gap of twenty years! Was I scared? I certainly was and it took a fair degree of self-motivating to bring the confidence back into me. The first part of my book “High on the Hills” is all about my effort to bring the confidence back into me, enabling me to undertake the journey.

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