So, we moved to ShangHai! On Tuesday, the 30th day of November, 2010. After what seemed like eternity. Really! The past couple of months have been the longest couple of months of my life. I wanted to ask, “Are we there yet?” every day! It was impossible to contain all the excitement and wait patiently for the big day. And now, we are finally here! 2 ridiculously impatient months and 42 garbage bags later, we are here and are already head over heels in love with this place.
But why China? A lot of people I know asked me that question. To be honest, I never really thought about it. I never really knew the answer to ‘Why China?’. Probably because that question had never even occurred to me. I just knew that I fell in love with the idea of living in China the very first time Mr. M brought it up. I just knew I was dying to go there. I just knew that I had my fingers crossed the whole time that Mr. M was considering other places. I just knew that my gut told me it would be exciting, and I believed my gut blindly. No questions asked. Not even ‘Why China’! 🙂 But since a lot of my friends asked me that question, I started giving it some thought. And here’s what I found.
China, because I don’t know the language. I have never had real chinese food. I don’t know anything about the Chinese- their culture, their history, their traditions, their beliefs. And when I say I don’t know anything about them, I am not taking into account the things I know from hearsay. Why? Ever heard of the Chinese whispers? Well…that’s why! I like to get my information firsthand. By travelling.
Secondly, I truly believe that the further away I am from the perimeter of my comfort zone, the better I will be as a human being. Challenges are always good. It keeps one humble, and busy. I believe that travel enriches me. All these new experiences helps keep things in perspective. I choose to not live like a frog in the well. I believe that the more I know about a people, the less likely I am to be prejudiced against them. And to truly know about another race, I need to live amongst them.
The last and the most important reason for my obsession with travelling is this: My whole life pivots on the premise that the only way to overcome the fear of the unknown is by making the unknown known. It is one thing for me to tell my daughter that there are no monsters in her room but a very different thing to actually show her. When I tell her, she might choose to believe me but there is a chance that a seed of doubt will still lie dormant in her mind. When I show her, she knows and hence she believes and that belief cannot be shaken. I want to bring up my daughter so that she will never ridicule another race, never say anything derogatory about another human being just because they look different, or eat different, or speak different or believe different. She will treat people well not because that is the politically correct thing to do but because she knows no other way to treat people. And the most effective way of teaching her to treat all with equality is by showing her that they are indeed the same, no matter where you go.
This quote that a very dear friend of mine sent to me sometime ago summarizes perfectly this philosophy. This quote happens to be for mountaineers but I think it is perfect when applied to traveling too…
“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”