Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Whoo, what a ride!’” –Unknown

There are many purposes and definitions of ‘travel’. My favorite travel TV host, Chef/Author Anthony Bourdain says “My whole life, cooking has been about control. Traveling and eating are about letting things happen.”

His show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, airs on the Travel Channel. He travels the world seeking the authentic experiences and food that flavor the world’s cultures. This is what he says about himself – “In my long and checkered career I have been witness to, party to, and even singularly responsible for any number of screw-ups, missteps, and over-reaches” – a sign of a true ‘traveler’ who keeps it real.

Although I don’t travel for a living, like many other ‘professional entrepreneurs’ my life has become that of a traveler – a journey that’s part cultural, part love of cooking and food, part spiritual, part intellectual, part business, but above all about constant learning…learning about self and people. And, yes, I too ended up in South Asia, North Africa, and many more places.

Not unlike Tony’s statement about letting things happen, I had to learn the same about the entrepreneurial journey. In the book The Entrepreneur’s Road Map to Business Success, author Lyle Maul and Dianne Mayfield say:

Entrepreneur — the word evokes images of the adventurer, the pioneer, an independent spirit in pursuit of the fulfillment of passions and dreams, one who dares assume the risk of the success or failure of a business venture. The entrepreneur’s journey from the starting point of an idea to the destination of a successful business is a long one, filled with crossroads, detours, and unexpected challenges.”

I couldn’t agree more! My own entrepreneurial journey (since age 17) has taken me from the tropical climates of my birthplace, Bangladesh, to the knee-high snow of Minnesota. I have driven the open highways of the California coast, been awed by the hustle and bustle of Grand Central terminal in NY (not to mention the cooking of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto in his NY restaurant), and inspired by our nation’s capital, Washington DC (for what it represents).

I’ve walked along the Thames in London, been treated to the finest French cuisine in Paris and Lyons, ate my heart out in Italy (like Elizabeth Gilbert, Author of the Eat, Pray, Love), seen the ultra liberal culture of Amsterdam, was privileged enough to have a private tour of the Nobel Peace Museum in Oslo the same week that it opened. I’ve witnessed the poverty and human struggle in South Asia, found spiritual guidance in an ancient temple in a valley of the Himalayas, been energized by the local spirit and hard work of this region while enjoying simple but delicious meals along the narrow roadsides.

I found the socio-political complexity of Jerusalem totally overwhelming–not to mention the pure sensation of spiritual power, serenity and fear all at once while driving through the Judean desert from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. I’ve experienced the night’s beauty in a desert tent while having a Bedouin dinner near the Jordanian border. And nothing could possibly describe the delicious taste of couscous and roasted lamb while sitting next to the Mediterranean Sea in Algeria.

Along the way I’ve met my share of industry tycoons, dignitaries, flashy salesmen, over promising con artists, authors, philosophers, dreamers, entrepreneurs, overrated heroes, hard working everyday people, investors, vulture capitalists, loyal and trusted travel partners, and yes, a few friends who have become family.

I often find myself uttering (from Paulo Coehlo’s famous book The Alchemist):

“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky. “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.”

The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist.

The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams.

After all these years at the end of 2007, while I really had a chance to reflect on the last few years of my ‘travel’, I have finally realized that despite the crossroads, detours, and unexpected challenges, my entrepreneurial journey has been utterly rewarding…and (quoting Tony) I am hungry for more!

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On life’s journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.

– Buddha

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