One of the most interesting things on our expeditions is the feeling of how quickly time flies. Two weeks ago an Indian motorcyclist pulled up beside me in the dry state of Gujarat, spent a few seconds observing me and then merrily announced “Time for a Guinness” and quickly pulled away. Yet the whole incident feels like it only happened three or four day ago.
It was two days ago on our way into Goa. About three km after leaving the hotel, while passing through a small town where we had stayed, I saw an old man standing by the road. When I got about 10 meters from him, he yelled something, extended a hand and gave me a flower, all this while I cycled past him. I imagine I will never forget this random gesture of greeting but it already feels unreal, almost clouded in my memory.
Today we are in Goa, another part of the Indian reality. Goa has a long historical link with Europe; from the time the Portuguese landed here in the early part of 16th century until they left in the early ninety sixties. Remnants of Portuguese presence are all over Goa. When the Portuguese left, the hippies came and after them came night-long beach parties powered by techno music, drugs and western youth in search on an escape from modern lives. Today it is package tours from England and Russia. The hotel in which we are staying has menus in Russian as does just about every restaurant in town. What will I remember of Goa?
Tomorrow we leave for Karnataka, whose slogan calls for One State, Many Worlds. We will not visit the Silicon Capital of India, Bangalore (you simply can not see all of India on a seven week bike tour) but we do have plans to visit some other highlights of the state such as Hampi & Mysore.
So now I return to my opening line about the paradox of what 99% of humanity would define as traveling slow (by bicycle) and the sense of time passing very fast. I suppose the main reason is really the speed of a bicycle. Traveling by motorcycle, an automobile or a train you can cover much more distance but our brains are simply not wired to be able to absorb so much information at such high speed. So I believe our brains then simply filter most aspects and absorb only some of the essentials.
But on a bicycle, due the very nature of the act, meaning one has to be alert every second, one’s senses have to be focused every inch of the way. We simply force our brain to absorb more and thus, in four weeks we have the same feeling as if we have lived four months. I call it the cycling paradox.
We slow down, yet we feel as if we live faster. In fact, achieve both a great sense of well being, of life lived well but also a sense of fatigue. Our brains prefer things we are more used to, rather than a life of overwhelming daily stimulations. Perhaps that explains why 99% of humanity prefers energy powered vehicles to human power.