The humbling experience of being oblivious

No matter where you go, there’s always danger in being oblivious. Quicksand, scams, and plain old disease wait for those who don’t know any better. But travel also plunges us into a healthy oblivion — the sort of state that reminds us just how little knowledge we carry with us.

I could spend all day starting at unintelligible signs.

There will always be local gossip to uncover. So you’re telling me the guy whose house I ate at last night had to close his wedding hall because of a “murder incident”?

Who is the dead man being carried down main street on a wooden plank?

Why are these four cops grilling the owner of the internet cafe? What sort of records is he printing out and showing them? Am I about to be sucked into this investigation? (Turns out they just needed him to book some train tickets.)

Those desserts you just wolfed down? Their names translate as “Big Butter” and “Bed Breaker”.

While there are just as many stories lurking below the surface at home as while traveling, the mysteries of the road drop my jaw a little further because possible explanations aren’t as forthcoming.

It’s easy to take a guess at where the family of five in the minivan is heading, but the family of 13 packed in a Jeep, buying popsicles while stopped at the railway crossing?

The possibilities can make you forget about the potholes on the road from Bhadohi to Mirzapur.

Where have you found yourself lacking knowledge lately? How did it hit you?

Photo by Artiii via Flickr.

Posted by | Comments (2)  | March 17, 2010
Category: General, Languages and Culture, Notes from the collective travel mind, On The Road

2 Responses to “The humbling experience of being oblivious”

  1. Marlin Coffman Says:


    Being caught in a “riot” on Big Corn Island, Nicaragua due to the lack of equitable fuel costs being passed on to fisherman. Runway closed, no in or out traffic and lights going out due to shortage of fuel. But, not that bad when you stay with local who says “Tallboy will take care of soon, don’t worry” (tallboy is the name of the mayor). Everything was fine, survived and have great memory of meeting people who just really take things easy.

  2. Consume & Update: Rowing, Journey, and Carnival | nomadderwhere Says:

    […] Vagablogging does it again…great musing about being oblivious abroad […]