In December 2015, when someone asked me in an interview how many countries I had been to, my answer went like this:
“Must be more than a hundred but not that I’ve counted, I’ve stopped counting at 15-20. Years later, before my second round-the-world tour, I was curious and it was around 74. I do not keep count of countries I’ve been to. And I don’t like those that do :) Joking aside, in my opinion, someone who is not bothered with borders, who instead attempts to exploit the fact, is not a traveller. Is this a competititon? If you’ve been to NY for two days, are you going to count yourself as having seen America? The US is a huge continent. Liechtenstein is a country, so is Brazil. Or let me give you an idea with numbers: The smallest countries are Vatican (0.44 km2), Monaco (2 km2), Nauru (yes, there is such a country. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean. An island, naturally. 21 km2), Tuvalu (another Pacific island. 26 km2), San Marino (61 km2), Liechtenstein (160 km2). The largest country is Russia (17,100 km2), Canada is almost 10,000 km2, US of A is roughly 9,600 km2, China is just a bit less, Brazil 8,500 km2, Australia almost 7,700 km2, India is almost 3,300 km2, Argentina 2,780 km2, Kazakhstan just a bit less. So how do you justify visiting these places by just setting foot on one part? And how do you put Vatican and Russia in the same counting basket?
Albeit, let’s say you count Hawaii separately. (Travellers have a separate country list count.) There is staying two days in Honolulu, there is seeing five or six islands with Hawai'i, Maui, O'ahu, Kaua'i, Moloka'i... Or even all eight. Let's say you've been to all, there is stopping by the islands for a day, there is staying there for weeks.
Besides, a country you’ve been to divides in two tomorrow. For example, I’ve crossed the Sudan from one end to the other. Now there is a country named South Sudan. Does that count as I’ve seen two countries or does it not count that I’ve seen South Sudan as there was no such country at the time of my visit? What’s the point of all this?
And what about countries that disappear? For example, there was once upon a time East Germany, there was USSR. If you had been to those places when they existed, what do you do? Cross them off your list and take your count down? Isn't that unfair? Apart from all these, after a certain point, it’s difficult to keep a count of countries. Think about it... For the first year in a babies life, you tell their age in months. As they grow older, it’s senseless to keep track of months. Just like that, I now keep the number of round-the-world tours I have done ;)”
I had said so but now, It enmeshed me into this thing of going to every country in the world and burning my passports. So even though I do not like and even disapprove of keeping “number of coutries travelled to” I went and counted roughly to have an idea how much I had to go. I say “it” because I'm not the one inflicting these things on myself. I don't know who this creature is, but I know it's not me. I feel like a person who is convicted to play the role she is prompted. I have no complaints though, that's another story. Or actually, I have a bit of a complaint. I am at a point where I've reached complete gratification on a personal level. I may quite contentedly lead my life doing the things I wish, playing with my daughter and writing things that nobody reads. These are not popular ideas, they are ideas that most often get a stone thrown at your head when you say them out in the open. Therefore, it's more appealing for me to stick my head in the sand after saying these ;) Or just say them while my head is in the sand so that nobody really hears. Trying to get my voice heard is not something I especially want to do. It's rather something I feel compelled to, pushed to.
Many people are striving to change the world for the better in different areas. And if I have travelled so much and if there has been something that these travels have shown me, I feel sharing this would be my small contribution to the world and to a better future. I see that as my duty. And burning passports to protest this order of things/status quo is a part of this task. I would like to find people who would support me materially and morally to help me spread this idea. I haven't found anybody yet. Still, there certainly must be people out there. Perhaps, You come and find me. I leave this message in a bottle to the Ocean of Internet with that hope.