“How do I learn about the world?” asked Ashutosh to his father.

His father looked at his soon wondering if everything’s fine with him.

“I mean. I want to become mature. I have crossed school and will leave college soon. Somehow, I feel I am too childish and need to be mature enough,” explained Ashutosh.

His father grinned and said, “Glad you think that way. It tells us that maturity is already setting in. It’s just like knowledge. The moment you yearn for it, you start learning. So, don’t be afraid. Just, go and explore life. There are many ways in which you can learn about the world. One of the interesting ways is to travel. Go to hitherto unknown places. Don’t plan your trips. Just be prepared for any twist. Face the odds during the trip. You will learn a lot that way.”

Ashutosh considered this to be a good idea. He wanted to use the two months time between his semesters to travel. He asked his friend Prakash to accompany him.

They both decided to take a journey across India and they just wanted to book tickets to one hill station. They wanted to see how things would go on forever.

Ashutosh and Prakash set out on their trip.

After one week, Ashutosh called his father on his phone and told him, “We are having a wonderful time here. We visited all the tourist places. There is so much fun. We went to a couple of parties too. The food here is exotic. I have learnt that there is so much life out there. And, I’m glad you suggested we should travel to learn about life.”

His father asked him, “What do you plan to do next? Where do you want to go?”

Ashutosh replied, “We heard something nice about a remote place not so far away from this hill station. We want to be there for a couple of days. We made some friends here. They said that they will arrange for our stay there.”

After a couple of days, Ashutosh called his father. He was panicking. He told his father, “We have been cheated. Please cancel my debit cards and credit cards immediately. Those people who promised us our stay here stole our wallets and ran away with our wallets, camera, and mobile phones.”

His father said, “Do you want me to come? Or, shall I book tickets for your return? I shall send you some money. Are you both hurt? Is everything alright?”

Ashutosh replied, “We both are fine. No, I want to face this situation. I will not come back. We will travel to more places in the coming weeks and return only after that. I will definitely miss my camera and my mobile phone, though. It has been two days and I miss Facebook and Twitter already. I had to spend time in the open fields for most of the day as we did not have money for exotic lunches. It was nice though – the breeze, the clouds, and the smiling people over there who offered us home food.”

His father smiled and felt glad that his son started learning something about life.

After a couple of days, Ashutosh and Prakash set out to a big city. They made the reservations in a decent hotel this time. They avoided suspicious people and planned each day and the next few weeks of their trip cautiously.

Ashutosh called his father and said, “We are liking Mumbai. This place is filled with dreams and passion. There is so much life here. It is such a busy place. But, we could not go to any of the parties because Prakash fell sick. He blames it on the food here. We’re being more careful about where we eat and what we eat.”

Prakash health deteriorated further one day and Ashutosh could not go anywhere. He stepped out of the hotel room and had a chat with the staff of the hotel. He befriended one of them and learned about them.

He called his father and told him, “There is this guy who works here. He seemed to be generally happy. He is always singing and entertaining guests while serving them. But, he has got so many problems in life. His father is an alcoholic and he has to take care of his brother and sister. He is in love with some girl, but, he cannot marry until he gets a better job with higher salary. His boss here is biased towards people of his religion. So, this guy has no chance of getting a promotion here. He works extra time to earn more and buy small gifts for his siblings. Because of this, he is not getting time to try for other jobs. Despite all this, he is always smiling and helping everyone at the hotel. He came with us when we had to take Prakash to a doctor.”

After a couple of days, Prakash felt better and they started off to some night party again. They could not enjoy the party as much as they did earlier.

Ashutosh told his father, “We had fun. But, we got bored of these parties. We wanted to do something more. This trip has lost its sheen. We want to do something that will make us happy. We will go to some other place tomorrow to check if it gets any better.”

His father expected his son to come up with his own logical conclusion about happiness. After visiting some places, he called his father and told, “I learnt that happiness does not depend on a place or activity. We were not happy when we went to some places despite the scenic locations. The other places, we felt very happy. We both were happy later because we helped someone who lost their wallet. They were such nice people and they thanked us so much. True happiness comes from within. And, some of it definitely comes when he try to solve others problems and make them happy.”

After traveling to a couple of other cities, Ashutosh and Prakash returned to their home town a week in advance.

Ashutosh’s father asked him, “What happened? You had one more week. Why didn’t you have fun?”

Ashutosh replied, “We got tired of traveling. And, we did not like the fact that we were spending our time by mere roaming. We wanted to use the time productively. We both are joining some vocational course today. We have registered for some training. We learnt a lot about life and employment. We met so many people in the way. And, as you said, I tried to learn something from each and every person that I met. Their life is so dependent upon their skills. So many of them want to learn more and earn more. But, they do not have time. When they had time, in school or college, they neglected. Now, all they are able to do is repent. We both realized the importance of time and want to learn as much as we can in the next two semesters. We do not want to top the university or score maximum in our tests. We want to learn as much as we can give our best shot in every exam. I do not hate education any more. I felt so bad at all the people who were deprived of education right from their childhood.”

His father asked him, “Does this mean you will stop partying and enjoying life?”

Ashutosh said, “Hell, no. We will definitely party more. When I say more, I do not talk about the time we spend in the parties. We will enjoy more in each party rather than whining about others or fighting with others. However, we will strike a balance. After all that partying, we learnt the importance of limits and balance. Whatever we do, we will give our best shot and know our limits. We will not cross our limits just because we are young and we can do whatever we can do.”

His father felt proud of his son. He said, “I wish I could go on a journey like this long ago. It took more than twenty years for me to learn all this. I feel so glad you already learnt all this. There is one more thing that you need to learn. Do not fall into the trap of peer pressure. It might take only a few weeks for you to start comparing with your friends and unlearn everything that you learnt in the past few months. If necessary, write your new ideas down and get back to them as frequently as possible and stick to your ideals. All of us learn. But, only few of us practice what we learn. So, make sure you learn everyday and implement everything you learn. Else, you will come back to me and ask me after one year about maturity once again.”