Friday, August 14, 2015

Life's Lessons Through Travel

Dearest Suparna,

We're homeward bound, so here's my final post. I've enjoyed spending this time to you, and writing every day. It's helped the reflective process and I'm sure it will help us remember this epic journey for many years to come. Without further ado, here's some of the lessons I've learned and things I noticed (not exhaustive by any means):

About Us:

Time together: We haven't spent this much time together since we got together a decade ago. It was lovely. Even as fiercely independent as I am, I didn't feel like I needed more time to myself.

Travelers: Rahul asked us what kind of travelers we were. We've never traveled so much before, so coming into this, I don't think we knew. But we definitely learned that we're not so much the typical tourists, and we LOVED just walking around and exploring places, eating good food, and people watching to absorb new cultures. I think learning more about other people helped us learn more about ourselves.

Silliness: We met a lot of wonderful people and spent great time with them. It also reaffirmed for me that you're so far from the typical Indian, and I'm so far from the typical American. I guess that's why we work. I loved that we could do things like dedicate a day to an Amelie tour, or eating 5 crepes in a day, or whatever other things struck us at the time.

Teamwork: We're both really different and have really diverse strengths and weaknesses. The times when we worked together with these differences we were great. I think it's okay (and wonderful) that we can be so different. When we didn't work together (which was pretty rare), it wasn't quite so great. We'll still have to figure out how to make the most of that initial few hours of exhaustion after landing in a new place. ;-)

Food: We both really really really really really like food and like trying new different things. Even though lots of people had pity on us for being vegetarians, I think we might appreciate food even more than they do. Strange, isn't it?

Not needing much: We lived a month out of two rucksacks, and yet I never felt like we didn't have everything we needed. It was great.

About Myself:

Water (and food to a lesser extent): I surprised myself by how anxious I would get when there wasn't a readily available source of water. Like, really, I became a not very fun person. 

Slowing down: We both know that I'm pretty much a go-go-go person, but I think during this trip I really learned a lot about just slowing down and being in the moment. For the most part I was really happy with the pace we found, which was us meeting each other in the middle. 

Planning: I was surprised that I was able to plan as much as I could in a flexible way. I didn't know that I could...

Shyness: When I would get out of my comfort zone (especially with language) I noticed how quiet I would get and would really rely on you.

"City Mode:" I know that I grew up as a naive country boy, and at some point living in Berkeley I think I flipped to the opposite extreme. I was surprised how much I turned on the "don't mess with me" mode when we would be out on the streets, and basically refused to talk to anyone I didn't know or be the least bit helpful. Not sure if this is good or bad, but nobody gave us any trouble. :-) I certainly can't take all of the credit for that though.

People: I guess I knew this to some extent already, but really people are the priority for me. Spending time with friends and family (and learning about new places) was really great.

Money: I know we've been through this plenty of times, but really, for the most part I just didn't care about the money. I tried to be sensible, but also just flipped a switch in my head not to worry about it. It worked.

About You:

Temperature: If food and water are my vices, then temperature is definitely yours. I think the times you got most frustrated and cranky were when it was too hot or too cold. This generally related to tiredness.

Flexibility and Timing: You had to deal with a lot of really new situations and getting ready under difficult and unfamiliar circumstances. You were really great, and anytime that we really needed to get somewhere, you were ready early. Wow!

Keeping in touch: You made a huge huge huge priority to keep sending pictures and staying in touch with everyone back home. I hope they appreciated how much effort it was. I don't think many people would do the same. 

Language: While I readily accept that your English is vastly superior to most Americans (whether or not they try to correct your English), I was impressed at just how good you were communicating with people even when there was very little overlap in language. I would love to learn to get better at this from you.

Relying on me: I always think of you as a super strong person (and I still do), but I also got surprised by the little ways and in the places you would rely on me. I was glad I could be there when I could.


Let's leave things there for now, until the next epic trip. Can't wait to see everyone back home!

Tumhaaraa hamesha,

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