“Dreams can still come true,” a Tiiffany ad for diamond rings declared in yesterday’s New York Times—and that pretty much sums up how I’m thinking at this difficult moment.
That it’s hard to hold on to such glimmers of light in the hailstorm of revelations, none of them encouraging—about rising unemployment figures and plummeting retail sales, the future of the Big Three auto companies, and more—should go without saying. The challenge became even greater over Thanksgiving when already harsh reality took an unexpected and altogether shocking turn in Mumbai—a city that so many travelers, myself among them, dearly love for its energy, purposefulness, and zest for life. The destruction of innocent lives and damage to iconic places like the elegant Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, across from the Gateway of India, and the more modern but also incomparable Oberoi and Trident hotels, along with targeted attacks on Nariman House and intimate spots that reflect the diversity and texture of India’s financial capital, were inconceivable assaults on civilization.
Being isolated from events that take place on the other side of the world is no longer an option: they touch us in our living rooms and in our souls. We are connected digitally and instantaneously—enough to realize that beyond our differences in language, dress, and skin tone, we have in common basic human emotions and experiences. No doubt this is part of what has enraged the terrorists who perpetrated 9/11, the bombings in London and Madrid, and the Mumbai attacks, among too many other 21st-century acts of senseless violence.
Dreams can still come true—our cover story offers up destinations and ideas that I hope will fit right into yours. As for my own travel dreams, I’ll be realizing some of them next month when I visit Kerala in southwestern India for the first time, and then go north to Mumbai and Delhi to meet with colleagues in the travel world. I’m fully prepared for moments of great sadness, and for some profoundly rewarding times as well. As my U.S. friend and colleague Arnie Weissman, the editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly, recently wrote: “Ironically, the reality is that anyone who does decide to visit Mumbai in the coming months will likely have an experience far richer and more meaningful than if they had visited a month ago. When, whether consciously or inadvertently, I have found myself in places beset by drama, the experience has been deeply moving in unexpected ways.” Travel always is just that, but in this case it will be even more so.