Return to Home Page

June 3, 2010

“Touch” on the road

East Jerusalem

East Jerusalem

It was one of those blow-in-the-solarplexis travel moments. I had just been robbed, and among the loss were interviews and notes from Tibet, a camera, and more than $1300 in cash.

This happened in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2004, and I remember keenly the anguish I felt, almost as if someone had ripped a limb off my body. But I also remember this: the gentle touch of an eleven-year-old girl named Pushpa, her hair pulled back in a yellow bow, as she gingerly stepped forward and took my hand as i approached her family’s home 16 hours into my grief. I had been to this poor neighborhood several times earlier in the week to visit her and her family, and I had promised (before I was robbed) to return this night. But I didn’t feel like being here. I was exhausted, angry, dazed.

I told Pushpa and her family what had happened, and they were stunned. The family felt, and their faces reflected what they felt. Quickly shaking loose of the shock, Pushpa slid in next to me (we were sitting on the concrete well outside the house) and she wrapped her lanky, girlish arms around mine. She caressed my hand and rested her head just above the curve of my elbow. “I’m so sorry, Joel. People are so evil.”

The full story is too long for this blog, but the point here is that in Pushpa’s touch I experienced the miracle of compassion, and it began to transform me. The family insisted I stay with them this night — “you shouldn’t be alone when hurting”, they said — and I will remember them always for it. And part of what I will remember is their touch.

We may not travel specifically to be lovingly touched after being robbed at 2:00 a.m., but in travel we enter the realm of the unknown, and both crisis and compassion may be around the corner. So perhaps we can say that we travel prepared to sometimes be touched in ways that we don’t wish. But we also travel with the hope of being open to other forms of touch — to the love of an eleven-year-old girl and her family, to the unsettling grasp of a beggar’s hand as he reaches up from the sidewalk, to the beauty of a Thai massage at the end of a long trek in the mountains.

We travel too, of course, with our own capacity to touch, and to bless. Hands connected to eyes that see and ears that hear are no small thing; they can even change the world…or at least a life or two.

Posted by | Comments (4) 
Category: Images from the road, Notes from the collective travel mind


4 Responses to ““Touch” on the road”

  1. GypsyGirl Says:

    Wow! those were too very different ends of the spectrum- thank you for sharing. Sometimes experiencing the extremes, helps us understand and appreciate the middle ground better. After being attacked when I was younger-it made me much more skeptical of personal bubbles.
    I have greatly enjoyed all your posts- singling out each of the senses. Sometimes it gets too easy to rely on one sense heavily–but feeding each of them equally creates a richer experience. Love the photo by the way, safe travels Joel!

  2. » “Smell” on the road :: Vagablogging :: Rolf Potts Vagabonding Blog Says:

    [...] tell you a lot about the scene at one bakery in the capital. I spent an hour there, and I smelled, touched, listened, tasted, and [...]

Leave a Reply

Main

Bio

Books

Stories

Essays

Video

Interviews

Events

Writers

Marco

Paris

Vagabonding.net

Contact


Vagabonding Audio Book at Audible.com

Marco Polo Didnt Go There
Rolf's new book!


Vagabonding
   Vagabonding

RECENT COMMENTS

Roger: Your camera technique looks really good and the colors are vibrant. What kind of...

Ric: I have been seriously vagabonding for the past 6 years on numerous trips ranging...

laurent: @ Ani: My wife and I have house and pet sat on many occasions in California in...

Angela Laws: There are vagabonds of all ages and from all walks of life! Like Charlie...

Roger: “When one is tired of London, one is tired of life.” –Samuel...

Jussi: For Dengue: check out Youtube. Sorry to hear about your husband’s dengue....

Jussi: Baños in the case of the city, does not mean “bathroom,” it means...

Charli: Thanks for sharing details of the assignment you are offering Ani! Sadly...

Yves Potvin: A comment for Tom : Your are asking about an hotel in Herat. Il I recall...

Lars: thanks for an interesting post. do you know how common this kind of setup is in...

SPONSORED BY :



CATEGORIES

TRAVEL LINKS

ARCHIVES

RECENT ENTRIES

5 tips for how not to chase a deal
Field Report: Nimbin, Australia – Where flower power retired
Vagabonding book club: Chapter Four: Preparation
At its best, travel is indistinguishable from just living life
Post Salkantay trek, Peru
Up Cambodia without a phrase book
Vagabonding Case Study: Luke Armstrong
We all see the same sun
Vagabonding field report: London,UK
Housesitting: A strategy to lower costs and extend travel


Subscribe to this blog's feed
Follow @rolfpotts