Fate willed him back. A forever land called India made the boarding announcement. Imagination and a bit of help from technology made history repeat itself. Or should we say his story repeat itself.
Let us hear this story from Lemuel, later and better known to travel lovers and bedtime book-hunters as Gulliver.
My tepid early life
I was born, an Englishman of common stock, under the quill of the famed author and satirist, Jonathan Swift in the vicinity of 1661. I don’t recollect a particularly distinguished personal life unlike and until my creator’s. It was rather tepid. In the midst of my more hectic travels that were to come, I never got the chance to ask Dr. Swift details about my early life. There are bits and spurts of my life’s story that my racy schedule allowed. I was born to a family in Nottinghamshire, the third of five sons.
Starting with a broken stint at Cambridge as a teenager, I later moved to London to be a surgeon’s apprentice. I studied mathematics and navigation under a gentleman named James Bates, as I believed it would one day help me travel. I also dabbled in Physics at Leyden when my apprenticeship ended. As I said, it was more or less, unremarkable. A bit like the weather in Nottinghamshire.
My destiny under a pen
Some say my destiny was written the day I was created. I was meant to be a ceaseless wanderlust to stumble from one adventure to the other, across faraway lands and fabled seas. Though I was skilled as a surgeon, my travels and happenstances hardly left me any time to pursue this noble profession. Though am told that my professors believed I stood on that thin line that separated good deeds and blunderous deeds with the knife. And my reputation as a captain of ships was much worse given that I had led and survived 4 shipwrecks.
So, there I was with a bit of training, plenty of fortitude in my hand and curiosity in my mind doing what I did best. Travelling. Foraging. Discovering.
While I liked the name, that I was born with, “Lemuel”, the world came to know me as Gulliver. Children particularly adored me and my jaunts across the world. And so did I want to entertain them with added episodes and spring to my adventures, some of which were off the books and off the watchful eyes of Dr. Swift.
I grew with each and every adventure that I was propelled into. Not in years but wisdom, with every distant land and people I acquainted myself with. From the nano-sized Lilliputians to the Jupiter sized Brobdingnagians.
From the lofty perch of the floating Laputa Island to the immortal but inconsolable Struldbrugs.
Each encounter left me a better man. Each was a precious lesson in life. It’s truly said. Journeys make men and women.
My mentor, an ever accomplice
My creator, Dr. Swift bailed me out from every cul de sac I walked into. With strange twists of fate and deft turns of his pen he used to escort me back to the shores of England, back for some respite before I was ready for yet another venture, yet another shipwreck and yet another discovery. Mr. Jonathan Swift was in a manner of speaking my constant fellow traveller, on the other side of the paper. And yet he was my true travel advisor who led me into magical strange lands, acquainted me with stranger civilisations and conspired my escapes when I was faced with anything even remotely more ominous.
On the 19th Oct, 1745, Dr. Jonathan Swift breathed his last, in the 78th year of his age. I call him Doctor, as few know that in February 1702, Jonathan Swift received his Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity College, Dublin.
A precocious talent of prodigious imagination and prolific pen, he was most notable for his wit. He and his fellow members of Martinus Scriblerus, were masters of satire. I somehow always had the sneaking suspicion that I and my adventures were almost an allegory for him.
My adventures I am told held deeper meaning to the wise readers’ world. A satirist’s diary on lands far beyond the shores of England, deflating human pride with lessons drawn aplenty for England. Every time I returned to my shores, I had a bagful of lessons thrust into my travel case. As for me I lived for the travel and that is what I uncomplicatedly loved. Much less was I concerned with the wider politics of the time, though they called me naïve. They say Dr. Swift suffered a bit for his beliefs and thoughts. But he was a very noble man. A fierce, proud son of the Irish soil. Today, 272 years later, I still fondly remember him, best through the famous poet W. B. Yeats’ lines as translated from Latin:
Swift has sailed into his rest;
Savage indignation there
Cannot lacerate his breast.
Imitate him if you dare,
World-besotted traveller; he
Served human liberty.
My World after
Over many adventures, I had become, so to say, one of the first what you call nowadays “truly glocal citizens”. Dr. Swift made me adapt to the local life and culture wherever I journeyed. I became a true locavore and was pestered over the years to do TV shows, travel consultancy, endorsements and what nots. Some were tempting but always managed to fall a bit short. Not that I wasn’t a fan of Steve Irwin and Anthony Bourdain and all that, but for me the adventure has to be mmm…. how do I put it?, uncharted, true and unplanned. To add to my woes, I was frightfully camera shy and that meant I had no career on television. Let’s just say nothing ever did and does get my juice up as a genuine adventure.
I was created to be sort of timeless, tireless. That left me with plenty of clock on my hands and appetite in my stomach as I watched the world of travel and technology evolve. Ships, steam carriages, vava-voom motorcars, cross country loving Harleys, supersonic flights, transatlantic rail, space X missions, Expedias, Elon Musks and Apples and what nots.
While on one hand, adventures became safer and more predictable, kindred spirits and intrepid travelers still remain. Younger, pluckier and less camera shy.
What else do you make of Bungee jumping near volcanoes, cave diving, outrunning Tomatoes in Spain and racing Crocs on white water rafts.
Bless them and their brave souls. There was still hope!!
The world overdosed on selfies, tweets, and instagrams around me or let’s say I became a little passive for the world. But I continued to be fascinated as its shape shifted. The once upon a time despicable yahoos became a search engine magically retrieving every query like a modern-day Aladdin and then am told, later bought over by a telecom company.
Lilliputians and Blefuscudians I am told grew longer in size after successive generations of interracial marriages. I am given to believe that they get along rather well now. And the ginormous Brobdingnagians, well, remained simply mildly gigantic losing their enormity to generational changes and DNA alterations. They remain, as I gather, as gentle as they were.
Over time, I had drifted into what I call semi-retirement. I lived a quiet life, once more as Lemuel. Whether it was my mentor-creator’s demise or sheer fatigue or a mix of both, I don’t know. Time was spent on easy couches, streaming devices and the idiot box which kept getting slimmer and sleeker, while the world spun around at a frenetic pace. I did whatever I could to keep up. Picking up the art of photography, sketching, rappelling, para-gliding, spelunking and what not. And yes, keeping myself relevant with changing technology, reading up, polishing my linguistics and brushing up my survival skills. And yearning for one more grand adventure. Without a ship-wreck this time.
And as true as Dr. Swift’s imagination, fate jumped in again, and how, without notice. Oblivious to my watch, it came in unannounced as all my great adventures have. Dr. Swift used to say, “Gulliver’s watch may be his God, because it is that which, he admits he seldom does anything without consulting”. Strange or rather dark was his sense of humor. My watch and its will always succumbed under Dr. Swift’s relentless pen, plans and itineraries.
Now, coming back to the strange hand of fate. I must apologize to my readers that I often trail away in the middle of a conversation. At 350 plus years a man must be allowed some indiscretions.
How I landed up on the doors of this rather lovely adventure is almost an epiphany.
An adventure, that was destined to start in a magical land called India, that I almost came within a whisker of, once earlier during my adventures, before I was plucked away by the flying island of Laputa.
The strangest part of it is, I was left a Time Machine by, my now good American friend and intrepid journeyman Dr. Strange (how we met is a tale for a different day and time)!!
So as I was saying, fate and an instrument of time willed me back and this time without the reassuring company of Dr. Swift, my archangel who plucks me out of the slightest hint of misadventure.
This is a journey I am destined to do alone.
This is my adventure. Mine alone.
With my trusted watch for company.
In a machine built in a world that I had once shunned.
This machine brings me back to my first love. Travel and discovery.
It almost seems like Dr. Swift’s last trick! A part of an unread will, come alive.
Care to join me?
A 5000 year civilization of epics, folklores, ballads, colours, flavours, fragrances, ancient wisdom, Himalayan wellness and I hear ever so hospitable people.
I am told that there’s never a right season nor the right time for India for it is a forever land. The general advice is to set aside plenty of time as this is a land from millennia.
And it needs, am told again the farsighted of adventure and sturdy of legs to truly travel, see and discover the magic that lies within.
Will I last this adventure? Only you can tell and only time will tell.
Yes, I still have my old trusted watch for company. And yes, I still do consult it.
I guess Dr. Swift wouldn’t have liked it any other way!!