Every Journey, Like Every Person, Needs a Theme Song

Some movie I saw years ago, the name of which escapes me (no shock there), mentioned the importance of having a theme song.  That everyone needs a theme song to get them through the day.  I wish I could remember what movie it was, but nevermind, the idea resonated with me.

Lately I have been thinking about journeys I want to take, and trying to work them around a theme..song.  There’s something about the idea of a trip to India covering all the basic “must see” elements that leaves me flatter than Naan.  Don’t get me wrong, I know it would be a mind bending and utterly fabulous adventure, but these days, I’m wanting that theme song – a link that brings a story alive, a splash of history, a greater emotional connection to my travel choices. India seen through the eyes of Rudyard Kipling would be something altogether different.  It conjures up images of Riki Tiki Tavi.  Of louvered doors and overgrown gardens with pebble paths and, mongooese (mongeese?) and of course, ssssssssnakes.

A journey I took to Scotland nearly 17 years ago was based on a theme.   Why Scotland?  Great country.  Lovely people.  Verdant landscape, but ohmygod cold.  Cold, cold horrifyingly cold.  But the real reason we were there – in the Highlands outside of Inverness to be exact, was Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series of novels, which I loved and which inspired my fascination (obsession) with all things Scot, particularly with the Jacobites, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Battle of Culloden of 1746 – the battle which ultimately did away with the clans.  No kidding, I must have spent 8 hours combing the stark (and soo cold) moor which was the Culloden battlefield, trying to imagine what it must have been like as the Jacobites were completely outflanked, and willing each of my senses to be as present as they could, to grab every sensoral cue to bring me closer to this tragic period.  Consequently for me, Scotland isn’t about Nessie, St. Andrews or even haggis.  Its about the Highlands and the clans.

Another journey had me and my husband Stuart, and son Coop, in East Africa.  My take was slightly different than the set itinerary. You see, East Africa, to me, is all about the early 1900s, when colonialism was establishing a strong toe-hold, when the idea of a posting in Kenya was like being sent to the last frontier – where the air was hot, yet soft and scented with frangipani and the roar of a lion in the middle of the night is as commonplace as a car alarm in a big city.  Where women were strong and could handle a shotgun with agility and singular focus.  I would have given anything to have lived during the time of “Out of Africa”, with Karen von Blixen and Berkelely Cole and Lord Delamere (and possibly John Barry’s music as my theme score).  Of Beryl Markham and of course, Denys Finch-Hatten.  I would happily go back to Africa to recreate some of the times, visit her farm in Karen, outside of Nairobi, “at the base of the Ngong hills”, camps, buildings (Like Lake Elementaita, where Berkeley Cole called home for quite awhile), right across a lake of pink flamingos from Lord Delamere’s enormous estate, which is still there.  If someone said let’s go to Kenya, stay at the Norfolk in Nairobi, visit Karen and take a safari on horseback or foot, in the classic manner, with the white canvas tents and period music, I WOULD BE THERE TOMORROW.

What are some other destinations that lend themselves to themes beyond what is expected?  Because those are the kinds of journeys that I’m interested in.  I invite your thoughts and ideas.

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