Saturday,16 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1203, (26 June - 2 July 2014)
Saturday,16 December, 2017
Issue 1203, (26 June - 2 July 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Coming Home

“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home”!

It is hard to conceive of a place more suited to one’s comfort than one’s own home. Like most travellers we search for what we need abroad, only to return and find it right here, at home. What is this deep sense of exhilaration we experience, when we land on terra firma to the place where we belong! It is the smell, the sound, the feel, the touch, the song of ‘home sweet home’!

Yet we travel, or we long to! It is a primal instinct to move, to explore, beyond the mountains, beyond the seas in search of the big adventure. It is thus that we came to inhabit the earth!

Primitive man travelled by foot on tracks he made from one place to another until he started to domesticate animals and used them to lighten his burden on the road...  Donkeys, horses, camels helped transport him on land from here to there, and back home again. But the sea kept calling!

He burned and scrapped away the inside of large logs, to make boats to travel along the sea-shore.  The  boats got bigger and bigger, and were called ships. The Egyptians were the first to build ships in 3200 BC.  They designed many kinds of vessels, small graceful canoes, beautiful yachts, heavy freighters and huge barges which carried enormous stone pillars such as obelisks, from quarries up the River Nile.  There was no stopping man from travelling!

Viking lords were buried in their marvelous vessels in the AD 700s, and for hundreds of years, until this day, world trade depends heavily on ships. They remain the most important means of transportation. 

The locomotive was invented in 1804, now we have electric trains that almost ‘fly through the air with the greatest of ease’. However, long before he knew what was up there, man always wanted to walk among the stars. After the bicycle and the automobile, the airplane got him there---almost!

Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first flight in a real aircraft in 1903, but John Glenn was the first man to fly in Space in 1962.  After circling the earth three times he returned home. Even Neil Armstrong, who landed on the moon in 1969, declaring: “That’s one small step for man, one giant step for mankind”, left the moon for earth and home.

Now man is all set for intergalactic travel.  The brilliant scientist Stephen Hawking dreams of space settlements or space colonies as man’s only salvation. What shall we do up there?  Will we be forever young, free of all pains and woes, or will we find our way back to earth, the only home we know!

Until such time, we are content with our planes, trains and automobiles’ to take us to near and faraway places, for, go we must and go, we do!

We travel for many reasons---business, pleasure, education, relaxation, knowledge, new experiences and  to visit family and friends. The thrill however is in the journey, as they say:” Travel is 90 per cent anticipation and 10 per cent recollection”.  ‘It is better to travel hopefully, than to arrive’, and yet as Mark Twain said:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow- mindedness.”

Having just returned from a trip that took me to the ‘New World’, I was reminded of a time, not long ago, when going to America was the universal dream. Ironically named after Spanish merchant Amerigo Vespucci and not after Columbus, it was Vespucci who described the country as, ‘The New World’. But the New World seems old and worn out. It is aging rapidly and prematurely!

Whatever happened to the American dream? Millions upon millions have come to its shores to be embraced by their Lady liberty, to bask in the freedoms to democracy, to enjoy the lights, the glitz and glamour, the Hollywood illusion, the ultimate fulfillment of the ultimate dream. Has it all ‘gone with the wind’ of its two oceans?  The glory that was America, is no more! Many who have struggled for years to acquire a ‘green card’ or full citizenship, have chosen to go back to their lands of birth, Korea, China, Russia, Slovenia, even Romania! Why has the New World lost its allure?

Some rulers wish to be emperors, others wish to serve, with miles to travel and dreams to fulfill. The famous American smile has been wiped off their faces. They are disgruntled and disillusioned, with scandal after scandal darkening their horizons. Cover-ups of tax investigations have caused the mysterious disappearance of undisputed evidence in the e-mails of tax official, Lois Lerner. Millions of illegal immigrants have over-burdened the tax payer and the never-ending disaster of Obamacare has left 48 war veterans dead for want of a doctor’s appointment… a sin that none can forgive or forget!  To top it all, the Iraqi cataclysm is back again! What to do, again?  The American nightmare haunts once more  and as expected Obama excelled at deciding not to make any decisions.

Countries may be like people… some age prematurely, others remain forever young even at 7000 years of age.

Travel is a an enchanting enticement, yet why am I reminded of the die-hard Bostonian who when asked why she never travelled, she replied: “Why should I, I am already here”! 

All in all, it is good to travel, but far, far better to come home!


“They change their clime, not their frame of mind who rush across the sea.”

Horace (65-8 BC)

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