We’re on the Limoliner bus to New York as I write this dispatch [now posted from Shimla]. Our adventure is about to begin, and I must admit that I am quite excited . . . to the point of nervousness.
We’ve been planning this trip for more than four months, and now that it’s finally about to start, the monumentality of the adventure is starting to sink in. This is my first trip out of the continent, my first trip to a developing country, and my first trip to a so-called “non-Western” nation. (Some of my co-workers say that it’s my first trip abroad but that’s not very fair to Canada and the Bahamas).
Perhaps people are merely wanting us to have a safe and enjoyable trip, but everyone keeps focusing on all of the things that could go wrong: sickness, terrorism, kidnappings, medical emergencies, sickness, theft, cinema bombings, and more sickness. As for myselgf, I was so focused on practical matters — making an itinerary, booking hotels, buying plane tickets, and shopping for international travel — that what we actually see and do is going to be something of a surprise.
But now we’re less than a day’s plane ride away from becoming true international travelers and I am determined to have a fantastic journey around India with Lisa in the weeks before Nirmala’s wedding.
On a more personal note, this trip is another part of the multicultural journey that I started at Grinnell. About ten years ago someone there called me a cultural imperialist — in a way that let me know it was a bad thing — which started me down the road of thinking about cultural differences and whether people in developing countries are really as content in their situations as the anti-colonialists maintain. Even now, when most people call me a liberal, I am still frequently on the wrong side of the globalization debate. To me, expanding markets and liberalizing economies and government institutions seems like a basic matter of fairness.
So I am very much looking forward to this trip in so many ways: the wedding of a dear friend, a chance to see a beautiful country rich in culture and history, and the opportunity to see how the driving force of the 21st Century, globalization, is affecting all of us.