Life is like a Map

Ever journeyed on your own ? I mean a bike trip or a car trip ? Looking at maps, planning the journey, actually undertaking it ?

Well, life is a lot like that.

And I got these thoughts on one of my trips - my longest trip till date. A lot of time in the bike saddle, through the length of amazing India, and its not possible that you don't get a bit Philosophical. You start thinking, comparing, drawing parallels. This bit of rambling thought is ... well a ramble. You will probably not understand it if you have never travelled on your own - for souls like you I would suggest going on a trip, and come back and read it again. For those who have been travelling - you can make out somethings, but this is steeped highly in Hinduism, karma and destiny - you may not agree with me!

Life is like a Map.

Open any atlas, and check out the routes. Life is about going on those roads.

The destination you pick up is your fate (destiny?). You know that you are going to travel the places on the map you have got with you. Sometimes you decide the destinations, but sometimes you are given the destinations. The inevitable destination is almost always always the end of your life.

Either you do what most people do - travel by air/bus/train, and you will reach your destination fast, in comfort, and see what everone else sells in guide books (maybe not even that). Or, you take an esoteric route, travel by your bike, cycle , car , and reach after lots of adventures, finding things you never knew existed. The first path is comfy, the second tough. The first is fast, the second slow. The first does not make you feel like you achived something, the second makes you feel pride in your accomplishments.

First is what everyone does, 2nd is what everyone wants to do. I talk about the 2nd kind of journey.

Pre life (schooling) is like a good atlas.

If you don't go to school, you are like a person on a trip without a map. You have to ask people for directions all the time, and sometimes end up going the other way.
Maybe you went to a good school, and now have a Lonely Planet Atlas. Details are there, you can plan your route with quite a good bit of accuracy. You can find places which you had heard about somewhere, and which actually fall in your route, and plan to check them out also as you go along.
Maybe you went to a really good school and have got a GPS, the latest maps which can tell you to a meter where you are. But India (life) has its own mind - and the maps are not always recent ones. In such times, you have to fall back to non-tech ways of finding your way. Remember, no matter how good your schooling, adventure has its own lessons.

When maps are made, the cartographers only tell you about what kind of road it is. Is it a National Highway, a State Highway or just any road. And that is the only information you have. You may start out on a road which looks good but suddenly you may come across a bad patch of road - and you have no idea of how long this patch may be. Maybe a few kms. Maybe a few hunderd. Life is like that also - its not smooth sailing all the way ... unless you know that route - which means that you have been on this road before. But life is one long trip on roads you have not travelled before. Maybe you do criss cross some of the roads - then you know what to do - but most of the time you are on a new road, a new scenery.

And when you come to a bad patch , or a puncture, there your mettle shows through. There you discover yourself. Are you a whiner or do you really work to solve the problems ? And like a bad stretch of road which becomes ok after sometime, remember that life is also like that. Though you don't know the state of the road ahead of that bend, it may become better. You never know. The best travellers don't let themselves get bogged down with the road they are on. They have fun, and go ahead, always knowing that sometime or the other the road becomes better.

Bad roads ? Rains ? Take it easy. Ride with the knowledge that this is not the palace for going fast. Sunshine ? Empty roads ? You can let it rip - with a finger on the brake lever - lest something unexpected comes up.

Life's memories are around the bad parts, and a few flashes of the adrenaline of going at 150. If you just concentrate on the roads, you may miss out on the beauty around. So, when on a bad road, look around, you may be amazed to find yourself in a very different place. And remember it will not be bad for always.

Like life, travel becomes quite a lot less tedious and easier with friends around. These friends are like you - think like you - enjoy the roads like you. And the friends who are with you in the bad patches, who gets the mechanics from the next village become more than just friends.

When you get lost what do you do ? Do you just keep blundering around or do you stop to ask people around you for help ? No matter that they may not know the language - but you stop and ask. So, why do we not do that in life ? Why do we draw back in ourselves when lost, when you can ask people around and find the right way. I guess its cause we ask the wrong people. We don't ask the locals but the traveller in the buses. Know whom to ask.

Reaching the destination is just the end, its the journey that matters. You can go as per what everyone says, get someone else to drive you there with the other people , and have no memories except for the stops at eating joints, maybe a tour guide. Or, you can go yourself, plan your own path, ride your own vehicles, and reach with an impression of a lifetime. Sometimes sleeping in hotels. Sometimes riding through the night. Sometimes sleeping outside. Loving every moment, and having GBs of memory to share.

Life is like a Map.


  1. Superbly written. That bit on potholes, mettle shining through reminded me: The Map is not the Territory!

  2. Yep, good one. Scale of the map and locations, makes all different !

  3. Thats enlightenment.

    Vibhu, I start my day with your article. Thanks buddy for that well sculptured and very well written article.

  4. well i havent travelled on so long trips that i start thinkin philosophy :D, but i guess i get what u are trying to say. :)

    thoughts put in nicely.

  5. Nicely penned words. Yes I do is a map..ride on Vibhu

    Nandu Chitnis

  6. Just I read it,Its superb. Yes, I agree that, Life is like a Map...


  7. didn't read this post in last 2 years. But today when going through old mails suddenly your link popped up and i must say...i am speechless

    Sumit Agarwal

    (does my name ring some bell)?

  8. A thought provoking post & I loved the comparisons. Being a traveller myself, I could so empathize with it. :)

    Lovely post.

    Keep travelling.