“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain.
23 countries at 23 years is the story of my life! What started out as a necessity, given my mother’s work, became a passion and ended up shaping who I am today. I cannot claim to be more open-minded, compassionate or perceptive than my peers, but I can say this – I enjoy meeting and interacting with people who are ‘different’ and most of all understanding what makes them “different.” Yet, my exposure to a myriad of diversity has shown me that it is possible for ‘different’ people to share a common thread drawn from shared interests, activities, and aspirations all rooted in the core fundamentals of humanity.
Travel has also taught me to look beyond stereotypes and nurtured a desire to explore.
Some of my proudest moments have stemmed from this inexpressible ‘flame’ sown and nurtured by the travel experiences. E.g. Trekking 19.5 km to Gomukh and back in 34 hours without knowing I might have to the previous day when I set forth to Gangotri National Park or becoming a certified Scuba-diver earlier this year, something I wanted to do since the age of twelve!
Travel gave me an exposure to diversity at an early age – a value and notion I believe to be the most important for my being. From the perspective of cultural diversity, India feels like a continent of several nations woven into one Union and I have visited or lived in 18 of India’s 29 states and 3 of the 6 Union Territories. In school, we all are taught that ‘Unity in Diversity’ is India’s motto but I learned to embrace this philosophy only in my subsequent t Being a nomad for most of my life, I faced a serious identity crisis as a child- a routine question I find most difficult to answer is ‘Where are you from?” When the incessant questioning would begin to agitate me, I would often say “I want to go to every place on this Earth and be from everywhere…” But now I have come to realise that this very fact is my biggest strength as I can empathise, relate to and identify with people regardless of geographic or cultural boundaries.
Till date, a cherished desire is to become ‘a citizen of the world’!