Tell me about Teja

Hi! Welcome to my little site! My name is Nuraini and I give you Teja. My take on slow travel.

Image credit: Cindy Liew

So WHAT IS TEJA? It’s one of those words that have meaning in more than one language (which is appealing to me in itself) – some fairly general and others quite specific, ranging from twilight, rainbow, all kinds of radiance – but also brick tiles (er, yeah..).

Nonetheless, the meaning that I have in mind (sorry my Spanish friends), is that which comes from my own language, referring to the light in the sky, that is the result of the sun, but without the sun being visible.

WHY TEJA then? For that I have to tell you why I travel today. I go out into the world, mainly because I have a highly inconvenient need to. But the emphasis I have chosen for this pull, is to become acquainted with the diverse peoples in this world, with the awareness that it is only all together that we are complete as humankind. Which is – trust me – stupendously challenging for an introvert. “Know thyself.” To do so, one has to know us all. Unfortunately.

Which brings me to this observation: there are no two sunsets that are the same. And yet teja on the horizon is perhaps the most universally popular sight photographed by mankind while travelling. In a world riven by differences, is it not right and timely for the traveller to hold up a kind of beauty that we all love, despite and perhaps even because each version being different?

TEJA: THE ORIGIN STORY

I have always travelled. Certainly my mind always has, from every echo and scribed page it has built a map of entire worlds. I have been to many places for many reasons: as a tourist, as a business visitor, as a student, and as kin. The country that I feel most familiar with, next to the one of my birth, is 6000 miles away. It was something I took for granted, and the realisation that I was rarely homesick never really sank in during those early years.

Up until I began working, I had always written. Growing up, I was much better known to my peers for literature than for science. But as I also felt a passion and responsibility for the environment, I made my choice. As an environmental professional, there is a very specific, disciplined way that you write, and as time went by, I rarely wrote for beauty again.

I ended up with these two loose ends, not because I particularly chose to, but as is the case with life, some doors are delayed and others open with barely a touch. For me, I ended up getting things backward: in many ways, I did maturity before I ever did youth.

Ibn Battuta, the great medieval traveller, observed that travelling does something to you. It gives you a home in a thousand places, but leaves you a stranger in your own land.

It crept upon me over the years, and one day I began realising the truth of the second part.

Faced with homelessness, it became necessary to find a thousand homes.

For that, it was not enough to travel for a reason. Travel needed to be its own reason.

KEEP TEJA IN YOUR EYES 

There is another observation that Ibn Battuta made. It’s perhaps not a surprise, therefore, that so many travellers and wanderers in the social media age share so profusely. It is that the traveller will, eventually, feel the compulsion to become a storyteller.

There are consequently very many resources online now that will tell you nearly anything about where you’re going. It has never been so feasible to be inspired and decide where to go, what to do, how to go about it, no matter what your personal travel style and limitations may be. I benefit from them insanely and can’t think how I would do better.

Those are not the stories that Teja is about.

My stories are for after your flights are booked, and your ideas have settled. While you are packing, waiting to go, or perhaps that downtime at the airport. I will tell you something about where I go, but it is not about where you should follow. Though these are my stories, I’m not here to give you myself.

Read them and let them go; I just want to remind you of perhaps why you were going in the first place. Remind you to let the sun of yourself set sometimes on the journey so you could look upon the strange places and new people you come to and see them by the light of your personal teja.

Because that sight will be different from everyone else’s, and that is where the beauty of the journey will be.

Teja Wahiba Sands Oman
Sunset at Wahiba Sands, Oman

 

More on my journey, published elsewhere: 

Women Who Wander: Bilingual Mind – Should I Travel Alone?