Travelling has always been a part of our lives. We have travelled since we were kids, uninhibited, and imaginative. Our childhood memories are an integral part of us, that we hold on to with great fondness and will remain with us for a lifetime. As children, we loved watching changing landscapes as the train whistled from one station to another. There were the all-nighter train journeys with friends filled with chatter, the deserts along the way to the lush green forests, stretches of farms with their crops swaying in the breeze, rivers flowing, the feeling of cruising on an empty highway as your favourite song plays on the stereo, the thrill of riding a bicycle downhill and the night full of enigmatic stars. 

From the beginning of time, we have evolved as a species and so have our tastes. But the satisfaction of being on the road remains a constant across all generations. In the Stone Age, humans lived a nomadic lifestyle. A life in which they weren’t attached to a piece of land. As man learned to cultivate his food, he started settling in houses, and travelling became a rare occasion, based on necessity. In the Middle Ages, when there was something wrong with a person, they were meant to head out to pilgrimage to commune with the relics, almost like certain parts of the world had the power to mend the wounded parts of us. For them, it was a therapeutic activity. From caves to huts, from hunting to farming, from the Eureka of discovering fire to making machines learn, man has always travelled multidimensionally. The point of travel seems similar to the purpose of healing, relaxing, and rejuvenating our minds.  

Safarnama is a journey of creation, of imagination, and most of all, one’s self. It is like dastan-e-Zindagi, a journey within. It is like escaping the Matrix to learn about us and the world, understanding why people do what they do. It’s also astonishing how each person has a different journey, a different story to tell, the journey which has shaped them made them, and this is, what is the beauty of the journey, of Safarnama. Our surroundings are just the reflection of our inner deep thoughts and behaviours. Safarnama is to evolve and bloom from inside so that we can help and serve people around us as kindly and humbly possible.
Although Safarnama has a special meaning for everyone, the word means so many things. It incorporates the people we’ve met, the stories we’ve heard on the way, the stories we’ve been a part of, the color of the sky when we looked up, the fresh air on one’s face, the fragrance of food as we drive past cafes and bistros, the hug we give the one we’ve done all that travelling for.

Life is like the undulating journey metamorphically similar to the changing nature of leaves through the different seasons. We are constantly changing, constantly reinventing ourselves all through our lives. We are never the same throughout our life. What life means to you will dictate how you live it. All are born the same way but, everyone cannot leave a mark behind. Life will be dull and boring if lived with false optimism or with gut-wrenching nihilism. A mixture of happiness and sadness, success and failure, and struggling to get things done or giving up, these all make our journey of life complete. One peculiar thing is the hope, courage, and resilience with which people have lived their lives even through this difficult time. One of the many things we all have learned is that one cannot live their life constantly under fear and that is something one should remember. At times, when all the doors start shutting on you, just a tiny glimpse of hope is enough to bring back the enthusiasm. 

The world has indeed witnessed many challenges in this pandemic as well as in the past few years. Safarnama is an exalted ode to the journeys that we undergo as humans, an ode to the resilient human spirit of navigating the seas of difficulties, the journey to take over the challenge and break glass ceilings. The smallest of journeys we take every day seem to teach us something new, lessons that we learn with time, how that one person we meet can change our perspective. Each person we meet can make our life so much richer and interesting and maybe even leave an indelible mark on our personalities and mindset. 

Safarnama is a way to live, a way to move on continuously. We, with our constant and curious journeys, have overpowered the very nature of existence. We are the ones who have opened the Pandora’s box of never-ending opportunities and is ready to face the challenges deep inside it head-on. The man who once looked into the skies with his bare tinkling eyes has now reached beyond our solar system (Voyagers) and the same man who once feared being drowned conquered the entire world by using ships. The same man who dreamed about having wings now treads around the globe in a matter of hours. 

At TEDxPICT, we feel Safarnama is a theme that is reflective of this year. Despite the isolation we faced, our journeys and lives overlapped, with all the tragedy and glimpses of joy that 2020 gave us. Safarnama is more than just our event’s theme; it’s a celebration of the indomitable human spirit and the intertwining journeys we take.