Preconception vs Misconception

As India nears, I am beginning to take inventory of both what I am bringing along as checked baggage as well as personal baggage that I may be carrying along. Can a person truly absorb what India has to offer if they don’t leave the personal baggage behind? (That sounds so very Carrie Bradshaw-esque, don’t you think?)

Throughout the day I kept bouncing the idea of “Preconception vs Misconception” in my mind.  So, I Googled the phrase. Preconception means an idea thought to be correct without having any proof or real knowledge of the idea beforehand. Misconception is a misunderstanding of a given idea or theory. What am I getting wrong about India and why? What ideas have the media fed to me for consumption? Am I misunderstanding what India is or just pulling random bits of information into an ideal?

Truth is, that to date, some of what I have been expecting to see/experience is:

  • Historic/Grandiose places museums, forts, castles, temples
  • Crazy traffic
  • Extreme heat
  • Extreme poverty
  • Brightly dressed women in saris
  • Unfamiliar foods-especially in the streets
  • Haggling in the street markets
  • Silk
  • Henna
  • Nose Rings
  • Bollywood films
  • Tea
  • Delhi belly
  • Mosquito nets
  • Spoken English with Indian accents
  • Spicy vegetarian food
  • Technology centers

When I look at my list, I don’t particularly think any of it is disrespectful or out of line. But then again, if someone of another nationality asked if all Americans ate french fries, I’d likely be offended by the limited impression. I didn’t notice “wealth” on my list. Why? Is that a misconception?

Even with these snippets of impressions, what I am most interested in is seeing and learning about the things that are not on my list.When in India, I would like to have conversations with the people about what their impressions (preconceptions/misconceptions) are about America/Americans as well as what they would like the world (me) to know about them. What is their happiness based upon? How do they find themselves as part of the global community (or separate themselves)?

I believe we are one people. But…What ties us together? What tears us apart?

Thank God this is an educational trip because clearly I have a lot to learn…and hopefully, a lot to give in return.

And so, I’ve decided that no matter what, the following items are on my packing list:

  • an open heart
  • a kind spirit
  • a sense of humility
  • the sharing of knowledge
  • the gift of respect