Friday 11 June 2010

Why we travel

This is a topic that is quite interesting to me at the moment, given that I've recently returned from a 4+ week excursion out of Australia. It was with great excitement that I left the chill and comfort of home to journey to Singapore- a completely new and a completely foreign experience to me. I had to travel to Sydney on the bus/train, and then flew to Singapore the next morning. I had prepared bountiful reading material for my trip, figuring that with two days worth of travel I should finish at least one book. I also had a number of weekend supplements to bring with me- I never get to read these fully and one day soon I'm sure that I will turn into one of those old ladies buried alive under the towers of newspapers in her house.

The bus ride was rather tragic and disappointing for a couple of reasons. I had forgotten how loud and obnoxious the general public usually are when travelling on a bus, what with their roiling, productive coughs and "music" blaring out of the headphones making settling into the world of Fantastica difficult. To make it completely impossible the driver had sports talkback blaring through the radio. Fantastic. Not. Not Fantastica.

And then there is all the possible pathology on show on the bus-it's positively distracting, compelling even. Was the man in front of me actually clubbed? It was hard to tell and I don't know that my subversive photography throws any light on the question.

So I gave up on the book and settled in with my newspapers. Time to read all the articles I would normally think that I should read, that I'd be frightfully learned if I read them, but don't get to. And the Spectrum was chock a block full of articles relevant to my travels. Malcolm Brown writing about his love of Joyce. The book design awards. A review of Graham Robb's Parisians (I so want that). And a full page piece on Sylvia Beach and her Parisian institution of the early 20th century- Shakespeare and Company. Perfect.

I started out with Malcom Brown's article about his love of James Joyce. What timing! Here I am setting out on a journey to Dublin, that will see me arrive in Dublin the day before Bloomsday. I know a bit of, but not a lot about Ulysses. Just the concept of it scares me. Will I read it one day? Will I even get to trying? Time will tell. Perhaps I'll end up leaving it til I'm dead, just like Virginia Woolf. So I read the article to try and correct some of my ignorance and perhaps some misconceptions about Joyce's most famous work. It didn't really achieve these simple aims, Malcolm Brown was too busy talking of his experiences in Bourke in the early 70s and walking his dog to walk off his hypertension in Sydney in the 90s. He did however feel that reading Ulysses taught him to see the meaning in everything- bends in roads, paling fences, shopfronts and suburban wildlife. Right. So if I see meaning in some everyday things, then I won't need to even attempt to read Ulysses? Okely dokely.

You can only magine my little heart sinking as a mere 20 minutes into my epic journey I read "People travel to Europe at enormous expense but the real world is at their doorstep, costing nothing." It felt like he smacked me right between the eyes. So, I should just turn back around at Lithgow should I? This is all a waste of my time and money?

I could have stayed at home to have a better life?

Somehow I don't think so.