My wife, Trini and I continue to learn as much as we can about traveling to India and Nepal. We checked out library books. We read articles on the Internet and watched videos available on YouTube from others who have recorded their visit. We have several friends that are from the country and we have asked for their views on traveling to their country.
The overall impression I am getting is that India is a land of extreme contrasts. It's a country with a history of civilization dating back 5,000 years. It's political history highlights the raise and fall of many regional empires and rulers. The Portuguese, Dutch and French are the European nations begin trading with India. With the arrival of the British, the political and economic structure of the country was altered.
One topic that I had heard a great deal about was the Indian caste system. This is the concept that persons are born into a particular class (4 levels) and that one's life choices are determined by the level they are in. I had the idea that the British installed that social system into Indian society. Apparently, it was already in place when the first Europeans arrived. I understand that there are major efforts ongoing to undo the caste formula but has it been successful? I'd like to find out while we travel there next month.
As I mentioned in my previous article, there is a great deal of work we have to do to be prepare to visit. We have reviewed our traveling arrangements. We have made sure to have our traveling visas are in order. We have done extensive investigations on staying healthy as we eat unfamiliar foods. Now that our travel plans are falling in order, we begin what I think is the most difficult of all to be prepared to visit.
I'm dedicating a great deal of time in reminding myself to put aside my personal preconceived notions and assumptions of what India will be like.
I want to leave behind my ideas of what a nation should be like and see the country for what it is. I decided to travel to this new region of the world with an open mind.
People I've talk who have been there have advised me to go with my mind wide open and see firsthand what there is to see. For example, the traffic patterns of India. I will understand the traffic patterns of the country if I remember that it's their everyday system. If I visit with the idea of what it should be -- perhaps four lane roads -- with most waiting in order, I may be in for a great surprise. I have to constantly remind myself that I'm in a country where its population will soon exceed that of China's and that major population movements from farmlands into the cities has happened practically overnight. The population of the city of Delhi in the year 2010 was 13.4 million. In only 5 years the city's population has grown by 3.8 million. It's hard for me to imagine a city being able to expand its infrastructure that quickly.
I'm constantly reminding myself not to go with a critical mindset. I must embrace the idea that I am the foreigner and I'm not there to be judgmental of how they live. I must maintain the view on a daily basis of live and let live. I know that I what works for them in their country may not work elsewhere in the world. The way they prepare food, worship, drive in traffic, how persons dress and treat each other, and religious beliefs are unique to them and it must be observed.
It was my choice to travel and visit their country and it must be kept in mind that I am going to let their world and perspectives to teach me new ways of seeing and understanding the world we share.
Armando F Sanchez:
Armando F Sanchez is a national leadership speaker, writer, worldwide traveler and CEO of Armando F Sanchez Production Network. His organization produces global web cast and podcast programming. Author's website Email the author