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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The travelling mind-set: mundane journeys and the banality of travel, part 1

Do you take pleasure in the prosaic aspects of everyday life? Do you get just as much of a kick out of the commonplace and the ordinariness of your surroundings as you do the exotic and atmospheric? Alain de Botton writes in The Art of Travel about the travelling mind-set and its main characteristic: receptivity. He says what really defines us as travellers is our receptiveness, how we approach new places: "We carry with us no rigid ideas about what is or is not interesting. We irritate locals because we stand in traffic islands and narrow streets and admire what they take to be unremarkable small details. We risk getting run over because we are intrigued by the roof of a government building or an inscription on a wall. We find a supermarket or a hairdresser's shop unusually fascinating. We dwell at length on the layout of a menu or the clothes of the presenters on the evening news. We are alive to the layers of history beneath the present and take notes and photographs." Is that you? That's me all over. This, for instance, is a pic I took in Brussels of some abandoned furniture and trash with this amazing mural as a backdrop. I love it and all that it tells me. I remember my husband and I spending ages taking our snaps and the locals looking at us curiously as they passed by. Why is that?

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