Travelling is a unique and thrilling experience that can give everyone memories for a lifetime. Recognising the transformative power of travel, a unique event is bringing together travellers and their stories to encourage people to better understand their world through travel. Navamita Mukherjee explores further.
There was a time when people used to eagerly wait for that perfect time of the year, only to disconnect and escape from their rushed mundane lives. In the current travel space, the concept of “perfect time” has taken a backseat. The idea of making quick, more immersive travel plans has caught on like fire.
A constant search for a quick “me time” is causing people to travel more. What is more fascinating about these itineraries is that travelers have taken a liking for weaving a unique story about their experiences, and sharing it with the world. So, they want to travel and tell. It’s like a treasure trove they have discovered that has to be shared. No more collecting photographs or memories. Travelers today have begun to look at their trips as rich repositories of their experiences with different cultures, people, and cuisine.
Taking cue from the captive power of storytelling, Emil Dumas, an engineer by profession, introduced the concept of Traveler on Stage (ToS) in Hyderabad. It aims at inspiring people to travel and explore. An avid traveler who has been to five different continents, Emil was deeply intrigued by his transformation as a traveler.
He felt compelled to share his unearthed version and life-altering experiences with his community.
Created by two French guys in 2014, Traveler on Stage is an open, independent, apolitical, and non-religious event that promotes any kind of travel on a shoestring budget. The attempt was to tap into the richest and deepest veins of human experiences by telling travel stories.
Leveraging the motto of “extraordinary travel adventures by ordinary travelers”, Traveler on Stage focusses on connecting, convincing, and winning the audience with the art and heart of travel stories. The first event was organized in Toulouse, France, and soon gained entrée in other countries, including Bulgaria, Vietnam, Spain, Canada, and India. In order to sweep the audience into a saga, the concept sticks to a basic format where nine travelers tell their extraordinary adventures in six minutes. Each participant is allowed to use 18 selected pictures to carefully elucidate their keen observation to the audience.
“My passion for taking this concept to a larger community made me kickstart the first edition of ToS in Hyderabad in 2016. A small team of 4-5 people on a tight budget was what we started with, but we could still achieve an overwhelming response from 80 captive listeners in our last edition. It was a full house. The second event will be hosted by Alliance Francaise in collaboration with Lamakaan. As we gear up for our next edition in the last week of April, I’m hoping more people will be drawn into the realms of adventure through spellbinding plots from our speakers,” says Emil Dumas.
Evoking experiences through careful and deliberate observation of journeys can be the key to extracting meaning from everyday life.
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That can have a telling effect on the mind of listeners.
For Suyash Bajpai, a software professional who travelled from Varanasi to Vegas, traveling was a way to satiate his uncontrolled desire to travel within cultures. He says, “What was common in all my destinations was how people existed in differences. From Varanasi capturing the essence of our diversity, to discipline defining China’s massiveness, and America embracing an eclectic composition of different cultures, the celebration of paradox was evident everywhere.”
“Even in Germany, which was once infamous for its hegemonic policies, people have now grown to express freely,” he continues. “This made me realize that one element that binds us all together is our acceptance of people, cultures, and thoughts. So, tolerance is what I wanted to take back home. You grow in tolerance while travelling. I believe that the world will be much better if every single traveler takes tolerance as their greatest takeaway.”
In the second edition, the storytellers hope to encourage the audience to take trips for a more fulfilling experience.
“The goal is to make people appreciate the beauty and warmth of forgotten locations like Hampi, Kasol, and others. Besides, adjusting and being content with low budgets teaches us a lot,” says Vamshi Bandi, an advertising professional in Hyderabad. “The power of travel lies in stimulating senses and flattening stereotypes. Of all the experiences that we gain in life, traveling is the most rewarding. It helps you connect with like-minded travelers without the fear of moral policing. The same reason has also helped women push boundaries and travel solo.”
The words that we choose in narrative storytelling have the power to transform opinions. They foster empathy and understanding, and have the ability to usher a positive change in the community. Moreover, travel storytelling has been one of the most compelling ways to reach people and engage them. As Emil Dumas rightly quotes the profound Moroccan traveler and scholar, Ibn Battuta, “Traveling. It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” No one ever spoke truer words.
(The author is an independent media consultant. Her interests include animal welfare, travel, books, food, and movies.)