Footprints in the heart
Fifty countries ago, when I was a novice traveller, I always ‘missed’ a place I travelled to. That feeling lingered for weeks or months before the next destination came up. Then I missed that place too. The roads, the food, the people, the airports, the landscapes… everything became one big ball of memories I wanted to keep going back to. Sometimes, I’d spend hours looking at photos and souvenirs, and desperately tried to keep myself updated on everything happening there. It was a hard place to find myself in, because it seemed as though my life was centered on travelling and then some more.
Then one day, I stopped missing places. I took fewer pictures of them, rarely bought souvenirs and never travelled to “get over a situation”.
So, it came as a shock when someone told me, quite vehemently, that she was appalled at my indifference to Azerbaijan, that I visited sometime back. “Why, I miss everything about it,” she concluded, shaking a finger at me. “What a great place is it!”
Reasons are inconclusive
Travellers (not tourists), always find a place they miss, says Lawrence Cenotto, a US-based author and traveller. “That is because travellers don’t know where they are ultimately going, and each discovery is a new surprise — some of which leave more powerful impressions than others. The unexpected adds to the emotional impact. Tourists, in the meantime, don’t know where they have been! I don’t think a tourist, generally, is as likely to ‘miss’ a place.”
Having travelled to 143 (and counting) countries, Lawrence could very well be an expert on places and connections made with them. He says what we miss most is perhaps the people who made that place special — whether it is because they singled you out for some extraordinary care or adopted you for the length of your stay. “We may have crossed paths with somebody who becomes special to us, and we get that one bright, singular moment in the sun together that never gets repeated, and it is natural to miss that.”