I want to spend my time in India in an Ashram, do yoga and find myself. I want to experience India how it appears between the pages of magazines. I want to realise my very own "Eat, Pray, Love", but as always, nothing is as it seems. Thanks to J. and her family, I encounter an India deeply rooted in the here and now, a culture that is so different and yet so similar to mine. Similar to where I come from, my situation in India is privileged. Encountering this vast and diverse culture on a social dimension I understand, helps me to find common ground. I quickly realise that what seems strange to me, is normal here. For example, to have someone working for my benefit 24/7 feels strange. The households I visit all have one or more house managers. Sometimes it's the job of one family to take care of another. I quickly get used to it but catch myself not wanting to give away some tasks. I postpone them to the evening hours and thus turn them into celebrations. What, to Europeans looks like a precarious life, is, in fact, a desirable occupation. As always, the spectrum between rich and poor is much broader than I could have imagined.
Without A. (the "man friday" of my hosts), I would not have been able to find peace in India. That would have been a big problem for me. For, although I have come a long way, I have just completed the first quarter of my journey around the world. Now, I'm exhausted, and my otherwise steellike nerves lie bare. I often think about just going home. But too strong is the desire to create, to discover further, to ultimately arrive. After a few days of pondering over my budget and the itinerary, followed by a lengthy correspondence with a Chinese travel company, I can't help but admit that travelling around the world on my own isn't possible. I won't team up with anyone. I'd rather fly home. But I have to accept help. I can't do without. Help has many faces. It's the friends who keep getting in touch with me, despite my changing WhatsApp numbers (beginners mistake, I know). The friends who make sure that the sporadic contact stays alive. Friends who travel around the world, like me, send me tips and make connections or, like in India, provide me with their entire network. A help that knows no equivalent.
Then there are my parents, who send a bunch of money my way without batting an eyelid. They accept my argument as to why working in India would not be profitable and support my decision to take what seems like the most expensive route through Tibet and China to Laos. (By now I know it isn't.) I wanted to do it on my own, finance and organise everything myself, stand on my own two feet. It's clear that I will pay back every cent, this is less because of my parents then because of me. I don't want to allow anyone to take this trip out of my hands. I want to be responsible and not finance a global lifestyle at the expense of my parents. But that's precisely what I'm going to do for now. Help has many faces. This journey is more exhausting and complicated than I ever dreamed. After travelling almost 30,000 kilometres around the world, only one thing is evident: doing it alone, isn't great after all.