The Lyrics of Travel

by Ant Stone on August 10, 2010

in Features

People who know me really, really well, can testify that I’m somewhat of a lyrical gangster. I can beatbox till your lugholes pop, and hit the high notes with them dead-posh opera folk. It’s been rumoured that I’m Susan Boyle’s love child, and I can see why. Yo, travellistas — here me now. Boomshakalaka.

UNNECESSARY THEME “TUNE”

Yo yo yo…
Doe. A deer. I got no fear.
I is rockin’ on me toes,
To the land we call Who Knows.

[insert encouraging cheers]

It’s back to the pack,
To the ruck to the sack.
Always looking fo’ward,
Coz we aint going back.

We’re renegade nomads,
With too much to see,
Last through customs,
Coz we really need to pee.

We got no money,
“We no understand.”
We just kickin in your hood,
Coz we like the sea and sand.

Ray. A drop of golden sun.
We’re modern day warriors of liberated Fun.

[insert light boos]

We’re cooky. Crazy.
Totally off the hook.
Tapping at our laptops,
No sign of a book.

[insert missiles]

Me, a name, I call myself.
Life’s a fairytale;
And I’m the elf.

Hummy, hum hum and I’m…

yeah.

Word up, Dallas! Free Lindsay!

[exit stage left]

WHAT AM I ON ABOUT?

Travel lyrics. You might not be aware of them, but in a couple of paragraphs you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Picture me entering a hostel, paying my dues and dropping my bag in a hostel dorm-room.

There are a few timid people shuffling around, but everything seems deafly quiet.

“Where have you been?” I look around to see which of the skinny white backpackers spoke up. It could have been any of them. I think twice about faking Kurdish, and draw in a deep, and painful breath.

“Well, I flew from London to Paris then slipped down to Spain, peeped into Portugal then fled to Holland and Belgium before crossing into Germany, idling through Italy and visiting the Czech Republic.

I darted into Denmark, nudged my way up Norway, then sloped through Sweden, fled to Finland and checked out Estonia, before turning up here.”

The silence in the room suddenly grows thick and hairy.

I think about rapping my way out of it, but it all seems so futile. The lyrics have got me and I hear the words before they’re set free.

“What about you?”

“Well, I started in Scotland, headed through Ireland, whipped through Wales and etched my way through England. I floated through France…”

I try to keep listening, but the thrum of his rehearsed tale is hypnotic.

“…danced in Atlantis. Mixed it up with the Mayans, then fondled a nun in Fordlândia. I sunbathed in Babylon, before going loco in north El Dorado.”

I fix my gaze right between his eyes. “That’s awesome. Sounds like a great trip mate, maybe catch up with you later, then?”

ME AND MY MAN(CUB)

MOWGLI KNOWS BEST

The fact is, as travellers, we are asked to repeat our journey’s route so often that it begins to lose itself in its very own existence. Our journeys get lost along the way.

Unlike traditional storytelling — where things get embellished and improved — our route is our route. It’s a fixed line.

On our blogs. In our minds. In our friends’ minds. On Facebook. On Google Maps. It’s everywhere, even when we’re not.

Do you remember the first time you read the Rudyard Kipling’s, The Jungle Book?

Those unadulterated adventures of Mowgli; the mancub who is dropped under the damp noses of a pack of wolves, and forced to accept and explore his new surroundings, before eventually returning to a world of conformity.

That’s how I see travel.

We drop ourselves under the noses of a strange population. A group of foreigners we’ve been warned against because they’ll rip us apart and nag at our kneecaps.

But we learn myriad things from them; we learn to see the world through new eyes, and we use some of this experience to guide us home.

Then we become proud of ourselves because we faced up to that challenge; we stared it down, and we managed.

As with most children’s fiction, The Jungle Book appeals to us because every time we reread it, Mowgli’s slate is wiped clean and we are reminded of his innocence.

We don’t think about Mowgli’s destiny — we think about (and enjoy) his existence.

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll break it to you. Real life doesn’t work this way.

Our adventure has happened, and no matter how many times we say it — or rap it — it will never recoil into the unknown like young Mowgli’s.

It’s like when we were kids, and someone asked our name. We responded, before following up with, “That’s my name, don’t wear it out!” Then we all laughed gaily and went back to playing hopscotch and burping.

Being asked where I’ve travelled, over and over again, wears out my adventure. I get bored of hearing it. My hardback, once-upon-a-time adventure becomes dog-eared.

Which begs the question: why do I write a travel blog? After all, this is the ultimate retelling of my travel adventures; it’s a permanent echo. A permanent echo. A permanent. Echo.

WHY DO I WRITE A TRAVEL BLOG?

Because I don’t want to be the reader; I want to be Mowgli.

I want other people to read about my adventures, and get excited when I tell them about all the experiences I had with furry folk in faraway lands. I want these years of my life to be immortalised in words.

I want families to huddle around and suck Werther’s Original while their granddad reads from Trail of Ants.

To achieve the role of Mowgli, I must balance things out by giving something up. For me, I’m giving up the innocent magic of reading my own story.

Instead, I have to hear those incessant travel lyrics of the upper paragraphs, each and every time some skinny stranger pulls my string and asks: “Where have you been? Where have you been? Have you been?”

I’ve accepted this, but I’m convinced that one day a whirling mischief will sweep through that dorm-room silence; and I’ll look him straight between the eyes, and I’ll say:

“I’ve been in the jungle, living with the wolves. Boomshakalaka.”

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Jaime D. August 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I haven’t been on my trip yet so i wouldn’t know about these feelings BUT what if instead of retelling your trail you tell them a whole different trail that way you aren’t wearing yours out? Or no maybe it doesn’t work like that… it was just a thought. I know I would get tired of repeating the same thing over & over.

Reply

Ant August 11, 2010 at 9:43 am

Thanks Jaime, great idea. I could, but I’d be a complete liar. What I was getting at, was the emotional side-effect of sharing your travel memories. Your comment reminded me of the time I asked someone what they did for a living: “I’m a cocaine dealer,” he said. Turns out he wasn’t, but he was just sick of people asking him that question.

Reply

lakshmi August 11, 2010 at 9:53 am

I can relate to your thoughts..I travel very often with no particular itinerary or plan in my head..Im off to Singapore and Bali tomorrow..hope to discover more ..

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Ant August 11, 2010 at 10:13 am

Sounds like a great trip, Lakshmi. Looking forward to reading more about it.

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Caz Makepeace August 11, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I write to be Mowgli too. It keeps it alive for me and just brings so much enthusiastic energy to my life. When you blog about your travel experiences you are revealing more than just the string of places you’ve been as you would to the skinny backpacker.
Keep on rapping!

Reply

Ant August 11, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Boomshakalaka, great comment Caz. I like to think there’s a little Mowgli following us all around.

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Laurence Norah August 14, 2010 at 12:54 am

Tragic self plug aside (apologies!), I did a fairly depressing sounding blog post on this subject a while ago, where I bemoaned the necessity of small talk regarding ones trip, where one has been, and where one is going. I guess it’s a necessary evil, as with all small talk, identifying some common ground and working from it, like stags sniffing out weaknesses, until something exciting and interesting can be raked from the ashes of the conversation and stoked into fiery flames. Sometimes, I surprise myself with my lack of intelligible thought, splayed out onto your poor, helpless comment box. Anyway, another good post Ant, and I will see how a new, lyrically based approach to relating my tale goes down in future…

Reply

Ant August 15, 2010 at 6:28 am

Lovely prosaic comment, Laurence. Looking forward to hearing your own travel rap…

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Tony September 7, 2010 at 1:54 am

After our last adventure it took all my strength not to say to someone” You won’t understand, I cant describe an experience…now PISS OFF!”

I like your style Ant….love it!
T

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Ant September 7, 2010 at 5:58 am

@Tony: Seems a bit brutal to me — I’m not sure I was ever that annoyed.

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Tony September 7, 2010 at 10:55 pm

After the 15th time in 3 hours…yep, I get brutal!

vi·car·i·ous/vīˈkerēəs/Adjective1. Experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person: “vicarious pleasure”- Oxi-moron?.

Nohing wrong with sharing with other like-minded peeps but the ‘couch travellers’ really freak me out! You know the type… their ” Ooo you are brave!” comments realy eat me up!

Anyways…….I got one of them there writing ideas churning round my ‘ead……
Laterz
Tony

Reply

Ant Stone September 8, 2010 at 7:00 am

I wasn’t trying to classify anyone with this particular post, I was simply looking at the recollection of my journey’s destinations, rather than the individuals who ask. I don’t have any problem with ‘couch travellers’, and I avoid grouping people together as such. Thanks for your points of view, it’s an interesting side note.

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Iness September 1, 2017 at 12:07 pm

I love the Lyrics of travel. Really nice!

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