Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Its hard being a traveler

The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road by Paul Theroux,It is hard to be a stranger. A traveler may have no power, no influence, no known identity. That is why a traveler needs optimism and heart, because without confidence travel is misery. Generally, the traveler is anonymous, ignorant, easy to deceive, at the mercy of the people he or she travels among. The traveler might be known as “the American” or “the Foreigner,” and there is no power in that.Among the Batelela in the Sankuru region of central Congo the word for stranger is ongendagenda. It is also one of the most common names for a male child. The reasoning is that when a child is born—and males matter most among the Batelela—he appears from nowhere and is unknown, so he is usually called Stranger, and this name stays with him throughout his life—Stranger is the “John” of the Sankuru region.In Swahili, the word muzungu (plural, wazungu) has its root in the word for ghost or spirit, and cognates of the word—mzungu in Chichewa and murungu in Shona and other Bantu languages—have the meaning of a powerful spirit, even a god. Foreigners had once seemed godlike when they first appeared in some places.