Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Narrative: Part 1

[Grand Central Station, New York City, May 2008.]

It is a truism that a destination is never exactly as you expect it to be. Multiple factors undermine the purity of desires. The weather determines your impressions more than the architecture; authenticity is diluted by coca colonisation; ease is impeded by language barriers; insouciance is defeated by tiredness; freedom is curtailed by financial limits; and so on. All these factors are present in my everyday at home, but somehow I imagine them vanishing in a distant land of travel utopia. And luckily I persist with these delusions, no matter how statistically improbable their success becomes after the failures mount up, for I would embark on fewer quests without them. But the delusions have now become ironic. It is only natural to desire the perfect encounter with a destination, but thankfully reality steps in.
The travel utopia doesn't exist outside my mind because it has no narrative. Before seeing the museum's masterworks I must wait in line for two hours; before waiting in line I must eat breakfast at an over-priced cafe. Utopias don't have narratives, but narratives are the things that make a trip a trip. I need obstacles to trip myself up, to make me see the everyday as a local would see it, not as a tourist.