Meet the Perfunctory Traveller

by Mou Run /
Mou Run's picture
Jul 22, 2008 / 2 comments

From this date, I will be writing a monthly personal essay in this blog. I intend to base every single piece on a fresh experience. Because of the nature of the genre I have chosen (personal essay), I feel compelled to open up a little. There is nothing poignant; just a sense of the would-be narrator of the stories.

An English teacher recently told me that the reason fiction appeals to more readers, even though truth is stranger than fiction, is that we’re introduced to a world that we expect to entertain us. Even when it is a heart-breaking tragedy, entertainment is never far from the creator’s mind.

I believe she is right. Increasingly, all writing is aiming for that; biographies, memoirs and personal essays among other works of creative nonfiction. Like them, I will try to entertain; if I am failing, please complain.

It’s hard to be your own character and tell the truth. I guess that is why the problem with nonfiction has always been the lack of the soul in characters, so to speak. Reality has its ways of tying our pen-brandishing hands behind our backs. It is fiction that always gets the free ride to verisimilitude.

I am, to be exact, a wandering learner. That I am writing for wandering educators is a bit of a leap. I was born in Sudan. In my early years, I had to learn how to live in war because my family rejected the notion of dragging young children across an unforgiving geography to Ethiopia where everyone was heading (read They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky by Benson Deng et al). Fortunately, I am not going to be writing about that horrible stuff. I will write about travelling, books, wine and food.

I have written elsewhere, what travelling means for me and how I started it but I will repeat here for you. In 1999, I alone, made a journey resembling that which my parents feared – I went to Kakuma, Kenya and remained there for four years. I spent the tumultuous years of adolescence there.

Unforgiving, as it may have been, that life, I like to think, gave me the emotional maturity that I believe, is indispensible for a good reflective writer. I am not claiming being a good writer yet; I am simply stating that the realisation is why I keep going. I couldn’t have been even close to being emotionally precocious under normal circumstances.If there was no war, I would possibly have gone to John-Paul High School, study law or medicine at the University of Khartoum, have my family arrange my marriage to a nice subservient Dinka girl and live in Sudan forever and ever
– a wonderfull thing indeed.

Unfortunately there was war and I have had to live in Kenya, Australia and the United States. Now I prefer the life I have but I would not have known this and life would have been great in familiar circles. Nevertheless, I have created my own circles by the few purposeful trips I have taken on both sides of the Atlantic or the Pacific or the Equator.

The worldview I bring here is one that is different from your own, as a reader, yet I know your world, however superficially. With that, I invite you onto my journeys. Tell me what you think and invite me onto yours. [email protected].

Next Month: The Perfunctory Traveller Goes Wine Tasting (at McLaren Vale, South Australia)

Comments (2)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    16 years 5 days ago

    What a great introduction, and welcome to your first column here at wanderingeducators! I knew that we had an extraordinary writer on our hands, when I read this. Yes, people are forged by experience. I know I will enjoy reading your columns!


    Jessie Voigts


  • Ed Forteau

    16 years 3 days ago

    Welcome to the community. Well written introduction. It sound like you have a very interesting story to tell. Looking forward to reading more.

    Ed Forteau


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