An intelligent enemy,' he would say, stroking his beard as if it were a bristly pet, 'rather than a foolish friend.' Or, 'He learnt the language of pigeons, and forgot his own.' Or, the favourite of Jan Fishan Khan: 'Nothing is what it seems.
The ancient paused for a moment, as if his strength were failing. Yet I sensed that there was more to tell. Looking deep into my eyes, he whispered:
'The Gond kingdoms have fallen, their people live dispersed in poverty: the teak trees and the jungles have been cleared... but the importance of the Gonds must not be forgotten!
My father used to tell me that stories offer the listener a chance to escape but, more importantly, he said, they provide people with a chance to maximize their minds. Suspend ordinary constraints, allow the imagination to be freed, and we are charged with the capability of heighetned thought.
Learn to use your eyes as if they are your ears, he said, and you become connected with the ancient heritage of man, a dream world for the waking mind.
Real travel is not about the highlights with which you dazzle your friends once you're home. It's about the loneliness, the solitude, the evenings spent by yourself, pining to be somewhere else. Those are the moments of true value. You feel half proud of them and half ashamed and you hold them to your heart.
Because there is no challenge, there is no reason to work hard. And with no reason to work hard, we all have become lazy. Lazy people are like cancer. They spread. Before you know it, the entire country is destroyed.
There is nothing quite as unpleasant as wearing a pair of briefs which have been trailed through a Calcutta courtyard. Nothing, that is, except having one's elbows and knees lacerated by unseen slivers of glass and discarded razor blades.