Friday June 22, 2018
Home Uncategorized Wanderlust ge...

Wanderlust gene: Why some people are always chasing greener pasture

1
//
180

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the cause, they are globetrotters, always on the move, never a whole year in the same country, the passport never out of date, always ready grab.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.

Next Story

Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

The trial has been ongoing since 2013

0
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India.
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India. VOA

When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.

The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.

“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”

“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.

Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women

and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.

Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.

“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”

But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.

“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.

Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.

Students Combat Human Trafficking
Students Combat Human Trafficking, flickr

‘Unpardonable’

Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.

“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.

“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”

The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.

“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.

India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.

“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.

“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”

Silencing Victims
Silencing Victims, pixabay

The future

Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.

“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”

The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.

Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.

Also read: Imagining Panun Kashmir: Dissent And Detente in South Asia

“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)