Before last year, I considered myself well-traveled. And wasn’t I, for an American? I had lived over a decade abroad, from 5 years of college in Poland to half a year in Belgium, a semester on the shores of the Mediterranean and well over two years in what should be France’s capital, Lyon.
I had taken my share of cheap Russian buses across Europe, hitchhiked and couchsurfed the sunny South of France, hosteled and yoteled in Spain and Great Britain, slept on night trains from Northern Italy and disembarked straight at work in Lyon, spent three weeks volunteering at a monastery on a scenic island within nightclub light distance of Cannes.
I had had my share of business travel, assuaging my coach seat discomfort and fear of turbulence with thoughts of the exotic locales my work would enable me to discover. The parilladas and milongas of Buenos Aires, the rocky beaches of Croatia, the bustling Dutch cities composed seemingly of bikes and marijuana, heck – even the yurts of Kazakhstan and meals of goat, horse, and fermented milk were known to me.
But the minute I got off the plane at New Delhi airport, I realized I had no idea about what the world really looked, smelled, and tasted like. And it wasn’t only due to the gold yoga statues in the middle of the terminal.
India, and Asia, taught me that I had seen nothing of the world yet.