This trip’s events and experiences will take more than a few words to dissect but I’ll eventually get there.
I’ll start with the outcome. It was a trip that I am unlikely to forget, very positive that I’ll dare label as marvellous. I saw beautiful natural and manmade features (some not so much so), and had quite a few extraordinary experiences. In Dehli, Varanasi and Rishikesh (where I spent most of the time), I “yogied” and meditated like a monk and ate (curry) like a king.
I got to know some people better and met some exciting new ones. One in particular who I got to spend heaps of time with. Quite the interesting and interested character, L. managed to trigger some thought provoking conversations that made me question some of my positions on a number of matters – I was quite pleased how my reaction to opposing views was one of noticing: a) the inner pushback reaction (backfire effect) to a different point of view; and b) the sequent questioning of my side of the argument and accepting the legitimacy of the other. Anyway, I digress and more on that later.
For the first time in 10 years I travelled alone. Well, for 12 days, I travelled together with a group of yogis, including our teacher, but it was the first time I went on a vacation without Cat and the kids. I ended up putting myself in a position of discomfort, utterly unaware I was doing so… talk about unsought, but welcome, growth.
This trip was also the perfect occasion to conduct a long planned experience… travelling with only a small backpack: 3 t-shirts; 1 long shirt; 2 shorts (1 long 1 short); trousers; 3 pieces of underwear; 3 pairs of socks; sandals; running shoes; toiletries (including Cat’s scentless homemade soap); energy bars; my 15 year old Turkish bath towel; and my yoga mat. The only electronic device was Cat’s camera and all my writing was done by hand – which is now requiring some deciphering.
I also got to take 3 books (“The Pilgrimage” by Paulo Coelho; “Who moved my cheese” by Dr Spence Johnson, which was read by at least 7 people in the group; and “Status Anxiety” by Alain de Botton, which I borrowed from my siblings in-law L. and A.. I’ll definitely write about this one as it really struck home on a number of matters – maybe not next week, but in a month, a year or ten I’ll put ‘pen to paper’ my thoughts on it. In the meantime, I strongly recommend its reading for some much needed perspective on the shit that makes us anxious.
For further context, this is where I was a few days before heading out:
“In 3 days I’ll be getting on a plane heading to India. I’ve never been there, and my expectations of the place are all based on Hollywood portraits and 3rd party descriptions.
The most consistent advice I’ve been getting is “Brace Yourself” as I will inevitably be shocked by the living conditions of the people in the country. Today, I honestly believe that I will not. I am confident that I will witness realities that I never did, but that it will not affect me in a negative way.
People in India – as everywhere else in the world for that matter – live in the reality they know, the only one they know (as a society not individuals) and as such, it is their ‘truth’. They know about different realities, but much as everyone does, they too create their own leverage to live with what they got and play the hand they’ve been dealt.
I am not planning on giving any money to beggars because I believe this action promotes a perpetual “business model” where parents take kids off school to make money, even handicapping their progeny knowing that the amplified compassion will generate greater profits.
I sought some travelling tips… what to wear, exchange rates, what (not) to eat or drink and other such practical advice. I heard the people are very friendly, cities dirty, curries awesome, and tap water is a big no-no. What I did not do was actively pursue any information on the country or the places we’re visiting…. Let there be surprise.
Cat seems to be far more excited about this trip than I am. My anticipation lies mainly in travelling with my everyday backpack and not taking my phone.
It still amazes me that Cat enabled this trip. She’ll be alone taking care of 3 kids under 4, because she thinks this is a great opportunity for me. Amo tus!”
I did see lots of poverty but I did not see misery as such. I felt safe all the time, except when crossing roads. I had immense time for myself that I used as best as I could. I read, wrote, meditated, walked, ate slept and talked 24/7 for 12 days. It was rather relieving not to have the usual Dad commitments and chores… I guess it was a holiday meaning more than just not going to work!
I’ll add that on the eve of travelling I was quite upset and grumpy. It was only when the kids went to bed, and I was meditating, that I realised what the cause was of my mood was… I really didn’t want to go.
I didn’t want to leave my family and became quite depressed until I got to Singapore’s airport, where I wrote about it and began to feel better. Writing was then a process of acceptance and openness for the experiences to come. And what experiences those were…
To Be Continued…