I was hit by a travel bug ever since I spent 6 months studying in the Netherlands. From then on, I made sure that I prioritize travel from my budget. Knowing different people from different backgrounds got me hook. It was not necessarily the place or the architecture or the drama or the food (ok maybe some food) that excites me when I travel. It’s the chance to glimpse a way of living that is totally unknown to me.
I was born and raise on another country before settling here in the pacific northwest. College gave me a totally different experience. I was able to meet people from different backgrounds, hear different language and eat variety of delicious food. Studying abroad gave me a chance to see Europe and admire it not just from the photos. I visited major cities in the US and in Europe. I admired the architecture, history and food from each visit.
I continued traveling since then. On average I go to another country once or twice a year. I’m fortunate (maybe?) that I can travel for work. I visited India late in 2015. I took a week of vacation and traveled across the country. I signed up for a tour through Intrepid and traveled with like minded people from Ireland, South Africa, US and Australia. This experience was different. It reminded me of the simplicity of life. I saw the joy from people’s eye from the way they gather within their community, the way they share food and help everyone around.
First world problems
I’ve seen poverty first hand. This is normal when I was growing up. Everything seems relative so I never felt that my childhood was deprived. Lack of electricity and sometimes running water is normal. Food is cook daily, fresh from the market and eaten during the day since not everyone owns a fridge. Laundry is wash by hand and you re-use the same water to flush the toilet. I almost forgot all about this until I visited India. Life like this is unknown to majority of the people here. Perhaps, if we see it first hand, our outlook in life will be different. We’ll consume less and be grateful that our basic needs are met with abundance.
A humbling experience
I can only say good things about Intrepid and the group that I’m with. We were exposed to the streets of India and the way of life of majority of the people living there. I saw monkeys, dogs and cows roaming the streets. I ate the street food and drank chai from an elder that prepared it from his home shop. I stepped on poop, haggle in the market and saw the intricacy of pattern printing and jewel making from a family from a small village. The streets are narrow, the electric wires are hanging on the post, and you can smell a very distinct aroma everywhere.
These were the things that I remembered the most during the trip. I visited the famous sites. I saw Amber Fort, watched a Bollywood movie (in Hindi with no subtitle) and of course visited the Taj Mahal. But it wasn’t these buildings that I remember the most. When I looked at my picture from Amber Fort, it reminds me of the food that was cooked by our host that gladly invited us in her kitchen and showed us the magic of making her food. When I see my post from Facebook about my Bollywood experience, I’m reminded by the conversation that night with our tour guide trying to describe us what really happened. Until now, I don’t know the story line, but I laugh every time I remember some of the scenes. And when I see the Taj Mahal, it reminds me of every locals that I encountered during the trip. The genuine smile, appreciation of our difference and the love for their neighbors — the main reason Taj Mahal was built, for love.
It’s easy to lose sight of this, but traveling reminds me of the simplicity of life. It breaks the stereotype that are molded on my mind. It gives a new meaning to the word normal.