The title of today’s post sounds like a self-help book, and I assure you that it isn’t, but for some reason once I got that title in my head I couldn’t let it go. You would think that after eight months of blogging I would be more cautious and strategic about my post naming but I’m not; I’m self-indulgent and do whatever I want. Anyway, moving on.
Last week I spent quite a bit of time writing about the importance of looking back in order to move forward, and in the process listed a few of my goals for the new year. Nothing was particularly specific because I’m not ready to share all my hopes and ambitions yet but one of my main goals was learning to re-adjust and take things as they come. This shift couldn’t have come at a better time because right now, instead of writing this post from my desk at home, I’m writing it from my bed in our hotel in India! (The dramatic part isn’t the fact that I went from writing from my desk to writing in bed but the fact that I’m in INDIA. Pinch me because I can barely believe I’m here.)
In December, two days after our return from Europe, D was told he needed to travel to India for work. Partially due to the jet lag and exhaustion of travelling for two weeks, and partially overwhelmed at the prospect of being so far away for so long, it was a lot to take in. However, since I have flexibility in my schedule I was fortunate enough to tag along, thus making it easier on both of us (my family was extremely supportive and instantly helped making arrangements to take care of our dogs). So last Friday, after weeks of scrambling to get our visas and vaccines, we packed our bags and hoped on a plane to come to this amazing, overwhelming, eye-opening, and wild country half way around the world.
D and I have both been fortunate enough to travel and we’ve been to a lot of exciting places, individually and together. We like a certain amount of adventure but we’re realistic about what we can handle, which is why we never really considered coming here before. But now that we’re here, even though we feel out of our element at times, we’re glad to have come. We’ve only been here four days, most of which has been spent at work for him and at the hotel for me, but we’ve seen so much during our daily walks and learned quite a bit through our interactions with the people here (staff at the hotel, whom I realize are paid to be nice to us, but also other guests, our drivers, and through people watching).
The truth is, we’ve seen a significant amount of poverty here and it’s difficult to witness the suffering of people and animals, especially when contrasted with my comfortable suburban upbringing but when you get over the initial shock, there’s so much more. What that is exactly, is difficult for me to describe right now which is why I’m going to leave it here for today as I continue to process my experience.
India is an amazing country, with lots of good and lots of bad, and I want to ensure that I write about my experience in a thoughtful way without reducing people to tropes or fetishizing poverty (“oh, the heroism of living a life outside materialist trappings”… *eye roll*) or OTHERING people through an Orientalist gaze (everything comes full circle on this blog, check the About page for reference), so I’ll tread lightly. And while I realize there are a lot of writers out there that will approach this topic in a more sophisticated manner, what I really want to share is that I finally feel like I’m moving forward and all that looking back and allowing me to move forward.
You often hear about how India changes people and that until you’ve been here, you can never be adequately prepared, and you know what? It’s true. We’ve only been here for four days and already, our perspectives are beginning to shift. I can tell you that this trip to India was not, at any point designed to be an “Eat, Pray, Love” type of pilgrimage, and instead was motivated primarily by my desire to be with my husband during his first introduction to Asia. But the reality is that you can’t come to a place like this and not feel differently.