Between us Education

Be a tourist... at home

This summer, how about rediscovering your own neighbourhood?

Summer brings with it the promise of mangoes, long siestas and holidays! For many, this might be an opportunity to don the role of a tourist and discover the excitement of visiting a new place. For some, this might not be possible. We often console ourselves looking at photographs of our friends and relatives travelling to exotic lands (with regular social media updates provided!) and live vicariously through them.

However, perhaps this holiday season, one can break the stereotype of travel and find ways to be a tourist in one’s own surroundings! We often crave for the pleasure of travelling outside, when we might be sitting in a land of riches and treasure exactly where we are. Often, we know much more about our neighbouring towns, cities or countries than our place of residence.

Many summers ago, a group of enterprising students joined together and decided to explore the history and by-lanes of their own area. They interviewed long-time residents and found many references that they were never aware of.

On researching further, they discovered old maps of the locality and chanced upon settlements that they never knew existed. Behind the façade of a shops and houses, the area was home to a freedom fighter and a tea shop that was run by a couple who used their earnings to help a local charity. These stories were a rich discovery and the students had many tales to share after their summer break.

Rediscover your city

Many years ago, we were asked to host a group of visiting professors who were attending a conference in the city. A plan was made to take them to various spots. It was then that we realised that many of us had not even seen the conventional tourist spots that were in the locality!

We learnt so many things about our own place by taking the group on their tour. The questions they asked made us curious about the place many of us had called home for years. To see a place that we took for granted through the eyes of someone new was very refreshing.

If one is willing to be adventurous, every city hides many streets and lanes, just waiting to be discovered. One holiday, I took a walking tour of Bengaluru and it was amazing to discover so many different ways of looking at a city.

We literally had an aerial view of the city as the guide showed us the metropolis from the vantage of one of the tallest buildings. Another gem was a discovery of a small jewellery shop whose facade hid an amazing ancestral home that extended all the way to the next street. The shop still housed a multi-generational family, living their lives in the middle of the entire bustle!

Lately, there has been a surge of interest in discovering one’s own place and there are many online resources that can guide you to find a way to discover your own city.

Looking beyond

We slip so easily into the roles we play that we take ourselves and those we live with for granted. When we look at people through only one prism, (parent, uncle, daughter), it can become very limiting. We might be living with each other but feel totally disconnected. To be a tourist in one’s own home opens up a whole new way of seeing each other.

When we approach everyone we meet without any expectations or a preconceived image, then we learn to see beyond our own judgments. Most importantly, when we are tourists to ourselves, without constantly judging and struggling to create an image, we can discover amazing things about our own riches!

Let this summer bring out the tourist in all of us.

Happy holidays and continue to enjoy the journey (however far or near it takes you).

The author has worked as a special educator in various settings. Share your thoughts and ideas at: lifeplus590@gmail.com

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 2:39:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/be-a-tourist-at-home/article17892495.ece

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