Friday, 31.01.2020, exactly one month since my official traveling period started…I’m still in the middle of the process, it’s the biggest adventure that I’m living and like all the big adventures, this one is giving me precious lessons about myself, other people, world and life.
Starting our journey with India was the best decision ever, thank you sincerely for this. Mamma India welcomed me very well, took myself under her wings and naturally set the way of traveling for me. Since now, everywhere I’ll go to travel, I’ll have India on my mind, I just can not stop comparing, mamma India is part of myself, the traveler Ramona.
1. Embrace the unpredictable – this is the first travel insight and the most important lesson taken from India. Planning is good, the structure is part of who I am but I realize India wanted to explore more of my intuitive part and decided to put me in some situations in which the only way to continue traveling was to embrace the unpredictable. I wish I could find the words to express my gratitude to this amazing universe of India that gave so much love. Because of my registration process, I had to cancel my plans for the first month, Bangladesh wasn’t possible anymore, Karen decided to change her plans too and I just tried to see all this situation as an opportunity to explore India by myself. I had days when I didn’t know where I’ll go the next day or where I’ll find some accommodation but I was ok with it because I knew every moment in India will be precious for me…And it truly was because accepting the unpredictable of India brought me the best experiences ever. I met kind people that helped me a lot and directed me to amazing places with people with meaningful stories.
2. The purpose of traveling for me is connecting with people’s stories – I have to recognize that I was in the trap of desiring to see as many countries as possible too. India taught me that I’m happier during my travels if I listen to people’s stories, not as an investigator but as a human being walking next to them. I remember my first time going in Couchsurfing in Kolkata, I was a little bit afraid but I knew the host was living with his mother and I was open to give it a try. Exactly on the day of my arrival, it was the funeral of the mother’s best friend, she was very sad and I didn’t know it. We had a long conversation together mostly because she was a teacher too and we connected really well and in the evening she told me that she didn’t think so much at her friend and thanked me for making it easier for her. In Visakhapatnam, I’ve met Padma, a brave woman who dedicated herself to social work and put in practice a cool project connecting local temples, people and tribal communities. For reducing the consumption of plastic, she designed to make clothes bags with people from tribal villages using the clothes that people are bringing as gifts to the temples. She told me that he is happy and excited to share her work because she needs encouragement and my interest in what she is doing, raised her confidence in herself.
3. Love more and fear less I came to India with an open heart but still, I read a lot about the differences in culture. If you would have asked me in Norway if I would be able to travel alone in India, I would have said no without thinking too much. India taught me that I should hide my fears under my love. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be precautious or realistic but I felt most of the times I shouldn’t be afraid to show kindness and love. In Kolkata, I did volunteering at Mother Teresa Center in a care home of young girls, physically challenged. On my first day, one sister asked me if I could feed one girl in a lying wheelchair…I was afraid…she couldn’t even sit properly but she was looking to me with her big eyes and I said yes. I’ve never feed somebody that can not speak and can not move…I was terrified but she was looking straight in my eyes like she felt my fear. I started to smile at her and to look around at what the other sisters were doing making sure that I won’t hurt her, I almost cried when I put her to bed after lunch because I saw her smiling too. On my last day there, we were visiting a Leprosy Colony close to Kolkata where people are treated with this disease. There was the only workshop where are produced all the clothes of Mother Teresa Centers around the world. Most of them wanted to shake hands with us, I knew in my mind that they have it under control but still…I was afraid to touch them. Again the fear disappeared when they started to smile to us…one woman even hugged me because she liked how I was dressed and she took my hand for a few moments. Fear is nothing in the face of love.
4. Falling in the trap of tourism is the thing I’m most afraid of now – I had a big shock coming to Vietnam after India. The people are distant, I feel they can not see me another way than a tourist. They are polite, they offer good services but the main purpose is to pay for it. Even in Couchsurfing, I felt the host is treating as a guest in a hotel and I was the one trying to connect more but without too much success. I connected more with other travelers than locals and I know this is tricky because I start to follow their route. I need to reset myself, I know that Vietnam is not India and maybe I won’t have so deep experiences here but I shouldn’t feel disappointed and still continue trying to connect with this country. It’s easier to say that I’ll travel here from south to north but I’ll be sad after this because I won’t have people’s stories with me. That’s why I decided to stay in Da Nang for a while and teach English in a center. Hopefully, I ‘ll get something more about people here and I’ll feel useful.
5. The universe has mysterious ways to send me signs. As I said before India taught me to trust more my intuition but still I don’t think this intuition is something only mine, I truly believe that is a representation of the universe’s love for me. I had some moments when I felt really lost in India and suddenly from nowhere, I received directions or help. My host in Agra, Khyati, was like a couch for me. I told her almost crying that I don’t know where to go from her place. Smiling at me, she asked why I should know where I have to go? It should be more important to know why I want to travel because understanding what and why I want to explore will make peace and clarity in my thoughts. And it was like this…when I understood this everything was more simple and more meaningful. Khyati and other beautiful people from India were guides sent to the universe that loves me.
My gift for you is a phrase made by the words in italic. Thank you for reading, enjoy your travels and be safe!