Sunday January 21, 2018
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Wanderlust gene: Why some people are always chasing greener pasture

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By Sharon Maas

There are people who stay at home, content, and never travel.

There are others who seem always on the move, criss-crossing across the globe in search of—what? The perfect country, the perfect home? Or is it just curiosity? Do they simply seek adventure, new experiences? Whatever the cause, they are globetrotters, always on the move, never a whole year in the same country, the passport never out of date, always ready grab. Their money spent not on new cars or new furniture or new clothes or new stereo equipment, but on flights and accommodation and all the related expenses. And spent without the least regret. And even when they are dirt poor, they still manage to travel. Somehow.

I belong in the latter group. And I envy, how I envy, the first group. That sense of knowing, without a doubt, where you belong. That here, in this house, this town, this country, I will stay. Not to feel that urge to leave again, to find a better place, a better home. Roots. To be rooted in one spot, and never to leave again. As I grow older that need grows stronger and stronger.

I am now 64. Over my lifetime I have lived in seven countries on four continents. Those countries, in no particular order are: Guyana, India, the UK, the US, Germany, France, Ecuador.

By “lived” I mean I spent at least six months in that country, and had the intention, or the hope, of settling there permanently. Yet always I moved on. The most permanent of those countries is Germany, where I have settled, mostly, for the last forty years. It will not be my last home in this life.

And even apart from living in those seven countries, I have travelled to many others. Trekked through South America for a year when I was 19. Taken the overland route to India from Europe when I was 23. Taken trips to other European and Caribbean countries. And I have a bucket list of other countries I’d love to visit: Australia. Canada. Vietnam. Malaysia. Indonesia. Kenya.

But why? Where does this urge to move come from? And why do some people never feel it? My husband, for instance: he had only left Germany once before I met him, and had never flown. Perhaps it was one of the things I liked about him: that sense of permanence, of being rooted. I lacked it. I longed for it.

I recently read an article that discusses whether the urge to move is genetic. This psychology blog says that the inherent urge to travel can be traced back to one gene, DRD4-7R. This gene has been dubbed the “wanderlust gene” because of its correlation with increased levels of curiosity and restlessness. DRD4-7R is a genetic derivative of the gene DRD4, which is associated with the dopamine levels in the brain. Those who carry this genetic information, says the blog, typically share one common theme, a history of travelling:

A study by Chen (1999) found the DRD4-7r form of the gene more likely to occur in modern day societies where people migrated longer differences from where we first originated in Africa many thousands of years ago. Another more recent study also reported similar findings: those who lived in cultures whose ancestors migrated out of Africa the furthest and the fastest/earliest were more likely to have the DRD4-7r gene (Dobbs, 2012). These findings suggest that this gene could be the motivation behind the yearning to travel, to move and to see the world: as it possibly did with our ancient ancestors.

I can well see genetics playing a part in my own urge to travel. I was born in British Guiana, now Guyana, in South America, of mixed race heritage. In my ancestry are Africans, Europeans and Amerindians—American Indians, or Native Americans. Could it be that my genes are urging me to go back to where my ancestors came from? To Africa, to Europe? Even Amerindians, according to the Bering Strait theory, came to the Americas from Asia 20000 years ago.

And yet, and yet.

To me, my restlessness is more spiritual than physical. If it were physical, then why is my deepest sense of home located in India, instead of in Africa or Europe? Why is it that India, at least, a certain spot in India, that draws me like a magnet, so that, when I am there, I can say with all my being: Yes. This is it. This is home.
A Hindu might say that my soul remembers a past life; that before this birth, I lived in India; that this is the cause of that homing urge.

In the end, though, I believe that home is not a place. It is a state of mind. A sense of deep inner peace, unmoving, unchanging. And since it is within, it should be accessible wherever I am in the world.

One day, perhaps, I shall find that permanent inner home. And then I shall no longer move on.

This article has been taken from IBN Live

  • Shriya Katoch

    This really interesting.Finally some explanation for the human instinct to travel.

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All You Need To Know About India’s Strategic Chabahar Port

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border.

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Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma

  • The Chabahar Port is of great strategic importance for India
  • It is in Iran and is being built and operated by India
  • This port will increase India’s trade with Central Asia and Europe

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border. Chabahar is the trans-shipment and logistics hub for the Makran Coast and Baluchistan province of Iran.

Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons

The tension between India and Pakistan is nothing new. There are several instances where both the countries have tried to obstruct each other’s political or economic agendas. This obstruction, along with other strategic reasons, resulted in the India and Iran’s deal on the Chabahar Port, which is crucial because of several reasons.

Here are few things about it you may not have known before :

  • Under the Trilateral Transit and Transport Agreement of 2016, the Chabahar port is the gateway to the Transport Corridor between India, Iran and Afghanistan, which allows multi-modal goods’ and passengers’ transport.

Also Read: India and Iran sign agreement to develop Chabahar Port

  • The agreement also states that India will develop and operate two berths in the first phase of the port. The contract is for 10 years and extendable. This time period excludes the first two years as they will be used for construction.
Chabahar Port will make India's trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will make India’s trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port’s first phase, which was developed by India, and inaugurated by Iran on 4th December 2017, is of great strategic importance as it makes it easier for India to conduct trade with Central Asia and Europe.
  • Iran’s Chabahar port is also important for India’s trade because of Pakistan’s reluctance in allowing India to send goods to Iran and Afghanistan through its land territory.

Also Read: Gwadar Port: China Turning Pakistan Port Into Regional Giant 

  • The development of Chabahar Port will increase the momentum of the International North-South Transport Corridor whose signatories include India, Afghanistan and Russia. Iran is the key gateway in this project. It will improve India’s trade with Central Asia as well as Europe.
    The Chabahar Port has also reduced Afghanistan’s dependence on the transit road, which went through Karachi. Now, trade can be conducted via Chabahar Port too. Islamabad has accused India of trying to use this development as a means to destabilise Pakistan.

    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port also acts as a counter to the barely 100 km away, Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is developed by China. However, Iran has defended that Chabahar is not a rival to Gwadar and Pakistan is invited to join in its development.
  • In October 2017, India sent its first shipment of wheat to through Chabahar to Afghanistan, in order to test the viability of the route.
  • India will also construct a 900-km Chabahar-Zahedan-hajigak railway line that will connect Port of Chabahar to Hajigak in Afghanistan. It will also connect Mashad in the north, providing access to Turkmenistan as well as northern Afghanistan.This project is worth $1.6 billion.

    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehrain. Wikimedia Commons
    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehran. Wikimedia Commons
  • It is being said that India will supply $400 million of steel rails to Tehran. There are also possibilities of setting up a fertilizer plant through a joint venture with the Iranian government.