Just as I settled down to write this week’s issue note, a friend who had been moaning for weeks about snow, chills, and London’s unpredictable weather sent me a photograph of a rainbow over the grey, rain-slicked streets. It took me back to the time I had seen my first rainbow in that very city when I was about eight years old. Until then, I had only read about rainbows in storybooks and textbooks, and they seemed as unlikely in the real world as scones for tea or pre-teens owning islands on which they had exciting adventures.
Spotting that rainbow turned a city that had seemed somewhat cheerless into a place of wonder—both for that eight-year-old who missed the sunshine of a seaside home, and for my friend, who is visiting more than three decades later. There’s little else that snaps us out of the routine, cheers us up, and proves as transformative as travel.
In our travel special this week, we explore those little moments of wonder that transform what starts out as a regular trip into one that awakens us to new ideas. One writer decides to play the tourist in her home state of Goa and is surprised by what she learns about herself and the town she grew up in. Another heads to Imphal and immerses herself in its feminist history, far removed from the news headlines.
One of our columnists tries to escape the shadow of Sonar Kella in Jaisalmer but can’t help but be charmed by it all over again. A chef finds new tastes and flavours when he decides to slow down and eat the way locals do. A seasoned travel writer finds a new route through the high Himalaya and discovers that even touristy Zanskar can hold secrets and challenges.
These are stories that prove all over again that there’s joy in rediscovery, in seeing the old with fresh perspective and curiosity, in satisfying the itch to explore—and that nothing awakens a sense of wonder in the world as travel does.
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