Many years ago I was traveling in India and weighing plans to head north to wintry Kashmir or south to Bombay. I desperately wanted to see Lake Dal and absorb the splendor of the Himalaya, but in the end I opted for Bombay, figuring I’d prefer Kashmir in summer and it would always be there, waiting with open arms. Since then things changed, and now I fear Kashmir may remain off limits for many more years, especially now that I have a family to care for. The events of the past year, beginning with the conflagration of September 11 and continuing through the zero-sum game in the Middle East and the nuclear showdown between Pakistan and India (not to mention the “war” in Afghanistan, the ongoing attacks on Westerners in Pakistan and the daily threat of an American attack on Iraq) have made me aware that we should go see the world now, today, without delay. The world is full of magic, and people who still admire and respect Americans even if they abhor our government’s policies. They are waiting to see us again, to confirm that we remain friends, and we are only cheating ourselves if we stay home out of fear.This past year has raised our collective awareness of mortality, a good thing. We are reminded that there are no guarantees, for me symbolized by that decision to bypass Kashmir, but also by those twin towers coming down. We could die in our sleep, or on the way to the office, tonight, tomorrow, today! So I’m returning to Nepal in October, to the Buddhist Khumbu near Mount Everest, one of my favorite places on earth. Maoists have been threatening to destabilize the entire country. An election is scheduled for mid-November. Will Nepal become another Kashmir in my life? I’m going to see it again, and if it remains open and free for the next 50 years, that will just amplify my good fortune.
We should all go now, see the magical places on earth, and embrace the world’s people. We risk losing more by staying home.
About Larry’s Corner:
Larry Habegger, executive editor of Travelers’ Tales, has been writing about travel since 1980. He has visited almost fifty countries and six of the seven continents, traveling from the frozen Arctic to equatorial rain forest, the high Himalayas to the Dead Sea. In the early 1980s he co-authored mystery serials for the San Francisco Examiner with James O’Reilly, and since 1985 their syndicated newspaper column, “World Travel Watch,” has appeared in newspapers in five countries, and can also be found on WorldTravelWatch.com and on TravelersTales.com. As series editors of Travelers’ Tales, they have worked on some eighty titles, winning many awards for excellence. Habegger regularly teaches the craft of travel writing at workshops and writers conferences, and he lives with his family in San Francisco. Click here to learn more about Larry Habegger.
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