Since I’ve “announced” my exciting news to friends & family by far THE most asked question is, “Why India?” When I hear this question, the first thought that comes to my mind is, “Are they crazy?! Why NOT India?”
Now, I understand this is a completely biased response but, in my mind the very mention of India evokes a world that surely has something that would spark a person’s curiosity to explore it further.
So to begin processing their question. I take in the cues that they project either in word or facial expression.
Some are truly uninterested in the idea of India having anything to offer. In response to their questions, I will usually start with, “Yes, I know it will be dirty & different. No, I will not drink the water, I will have to get a couple of immunizations and sleep under a mosquito net.” At this point I check to see if I have a chance in gaining some positive affirmation of my bravery. I then go for the sell. “But I am also going to have the opportunity to see in person the Taj Mahal before it is no longer open for human eyes to see. Touch, see and smell the spices of the world in the spice markets… Maybe do some yoga or meditate in the land it was perfected.” (This is probably like an Indian telling their friends that on a trip to America, “I will eat at McDonald’s, take a boat down the Hudson River and go to Disneyland.”)
You may have guessed that there is no convincing this set of folks. They are generally happy for me but at the same time I think they think I am crazy. Some feel sorry for my husband and children because I am being selfish. I know they are thinking this because there is a part deep inside of myself that has thought the same thing. The thing is that even though those thoughts creep inside my mind, I do not believe them because they are untrue.
When others ask me the “Why India?” question, it comes from a place of genuine curiosity and joy. My friends & family are so proud of me. And even though many of them express that they would never want to go to India (again “Why NOT?!”) they do respect that this kind of trip is not only a journey to the other side of the world, it is a personal reflection of bravery and personal enhancement.
To these people I tell the unfolding of events which led me to this opportunity. They are surprised, happy and I think a bit envious. Their jealousy is not in the “evil, I hate you” kind of way, but with the healthy pangs of desire we have inside of ourselves which inspire us to go beyond what we think we can do and strive for those things we desire the most.
I have gone through life being ever optimistic. I have shrugged off disappointment and missed opportunities with a mantra something to the effect, “well, I needed to go through that to be the person that I am today,” and “I would not go back in time to change anything in my life because it could affect the happiness that I have now and the lessons that I have learned.”
Truth is that I am full of it.
In a perfect world where I could change events and decisions of the past, I certainly would love to change a couple…I mean, why not have my cake and eat it too? I am sorry that I made certain decisions (or let others make some decisions for me) which changed the quality of certain details in my life.
And here is where life is amazing. We do have the ability to change the past. By living in the present and making the choices now for the time when this moment inevitably becomes the past.
Fact is, the “Why” for me is because India will not be one singular experience nor does not hold one specific desire. There is not one thing that pulls me to it, but I know that I should and have to go. I want to be uncomfortable. I want to go places that few get to see. I want to really understand what the new global economy means. I want to feel what its like to be a foreigner. I want to see inequality. I want to gain and reaffirm the perspective and appreciation for my own life & country.
I know that I am doing possibly the most selfish thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I don’t feel bad about it for one minute (ok, maybe one). For me, this really may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience something so completely foreign that I simply must go.
Simply put, I just could not let India be something that I should have done.