IndraTrek, the origin of an idea

Here I am, ten years after the birth of the Indra Trek & Travel project, to remind (maybe above all to myself…) what is behind this idea and its name, probably a bit too exotic and obscure for many, but so fascinating and important to me.

I had just returned home after a few years living abroad and I had brought back many pictures and experiences to tell. Once settled in my home country and continuing to travel for work and for pleasure I started methodically and passionately as never before to explore every corner I could in the land I was born, finding in my hands in a very short time a lot of material which I thought it was a shame to leave hidden in a drawer. Besides getting mad to scan (often with awful results) all the analog photos I had started writing during my travel experiences and the treks, in the beginning just to document and describe what I saw and to find a way to freeze the memories better and then, after overcoming the initial insecurity, converting the individual drive in desire to share, with the ambition and the hope to use one day all such material as a preparation and foundation for a real life change.

The eternal passion for travelling and the always great and inexplicable attraction towards the East, which in the previous years despite my many tries life had always continued to keep far away and finally was now becoming concrete after a few trips on the field, together with the love for the mountains and the achieved awareness of the beauty of my home land, pushed me to research some kind of leading thread joining all together. My hope was to build a bridge, I still cannot really explain why, between far and near.
Maybe I was moved without knowing from what one of the greatest Orientalists of all times, Giuseppe Tucci from Macerata, referring to himself and to other great and old “knowers” of the East from the Marche Region (Matteo Ricci in 1500 and the Fransciscan Mission in Tibet in 1700), calls “This inexplicable attraction between the Marche and the East“, but it is a fact that I started full of doubts which partially I still bring with me today to lay cables and build pillars for my project, but this first of all needed the proper name.

At that time my main goal was to publish material for trekking and the word Trek was almost mandatory, but I found out that besides recalling hikes in the mountains it also owned a deeper meaning. This term comes from far away and has arrived to us transformed in its sense compared to the primitive meaning given by the South African Boers and deriving in turn from the Dutch. In Afrikaans in fact trek can be translated with “slow trip taken on ox wagon”, and in South Africa in 1800 one trek was equivalent to one day travelling on ox wagon, substituting by fact the mile as the measure unit for distance. This word acquired to me the meaning of moving on a slow path, sometimes even hard and demanding, where you can enjoy the itinerary with no rush or competition, and for what concerns myself this is also the only way to conceive any kind of trip, since always. This calm-tempered travelling and trekking is what I believe links better than anything to my own lands and the Marche region they belong to, since for culture and territory they lead themselves maybe better than any other to be traveled slowly.

After resolving the concept of near I was left with the problem of the bridge, how to connect local treks with travelling and with the beloved Orient. I needed another word, a symbol or something similar that put together with Trek could take one’s imagination far away and could create the dichotomy I was looking for.
It was not an easy matter, many terms and ideas were wandering through my head without being able to find the right one until my father came to my help, giving me as a present the famous and last book from Tiziano Terzani, One More Ride on the Merry-go-round“.
At the end of a beautiful chapter dedicated to travel and to the meaning of a potential renounce for who made of it its entire life is quoted a passage from the Aitareya Brahmana.
The Brahmana are sanskrit books from Ancient India explaining the rituals of the even more ancient Vedas, and specifically the Aitareya Brahmana explains one of them, the Rig Veda.
In the passage on the book from Terzani the God Indra, the king of the Vedic deities to whom are dedicated in the Rig Veda a huge amount of hymns and who is also the protector of all travellers, encourages a young character, Rohita, to leave the society and travel:

There is no happiness for him who does not travel, Rohita!
Thus we have heard.
Living in the society of men, the best man becomes a sinner… therefore, wander!
The fortune of him who is sitting, sits;
it rises when he rises;
it sleeps when he sleeps;
it moves when he moves.
Therefore, wander!

I had found the connection, the two words put together were working to me, and so from that day IndraTrek became synonym for far and near, and also the symbol of my bridge.

I created the website and started publishing short travelling stories and photos, plus the reports of my treks on many trails with as many details as possible of all passages and even drawing the maps (all handmade except for some raw experiments to interface with Google Maps, not even too developed at the time), trying to create something complete and harmonious.
Unfortunately the project never took off completely as the passions behind it deserved, maybe for lack of courage and fear of leaving the known road, or maybe just because times have never been mature so far. With time and new commitments arriving the site has even been a bit abandoned and more than once I thought about dropping everything because it was not worth publishing stuff that at the end of the day has very small visibility and is helpful just to a few users, especially because in the meantime many other websites were born, much more specialized and updated in their contents.

Despite all of this all the old content is still firmly and nostalgically there, now together with the new Blog and pages to bring nourishment to the idea, still waiting for the right time to come…