Travel/Fiction

‘I tried to tell her, but neither then nor later, though we talked about it often, did I ever succeed in explaining to her that I could not forget because Tribid had given me words to travel in and he had given me eyes to see them with; she who had been travelling the world since she was a child, could never understand what those hours in Tribid’s room had meant to me, a boy who had never been more than a few hundred miles from Calcutta…

‘I had a glimpse at that moment, of those names on the map as they appeared to her: a worldwide string of departure lounges, but not for that reason, all strikingly similar, but on the contrary, each of them strikingly different, distinctively individual, each with its Ladies hidden away in some yet more unexpected corner of the hall, each with its own peculiarity, like the flushes in Stockholm’s Arlanda, so sleekly discreet that she had once missed two flight calls because it had taken her so long to understand how the handle worked.  I imagined her alighting on these daydream names – Addis Ababa, Algiers, Brisbane – and running to find the Ladies, not because she wanted to go, but because those were the only fixed points in the shifting landscapes of her childhood…

‘I could not persuade her that a place does not merely exist, that it has to be invented in one’s imagination; that her practical, bustling London was no less invented than mine, neither more nor less true, only very far apart.  It was not her fault she could not understand, for as Tribid often said of her, the inventions she lived in with her, so that although she had lived in many places, she had never travelled at all,’

– Amitav Ghosh, The Shadow Lines