“Why do you travel?” I hear this a lot. And, “You are prejudiced against your own culture.” It behooves me to understand why I may be prejudiced. Why? Because I love to explore the social and cultural aspects of people in different lands? Because my culture is so ingrained in me it no longer offers a much needed level of stimulation to my inquiring mind? When, what I learn helps me to understand who I am, what my culture is and makes my life more fulfilling? Why in my bubble, am I such an oddity to my peers?
“I am an onion.” I explain, “I have many different layers. The person I am at home, is not the person I am when I travel. Any given situation peels off different layers of our psyche to explore. It just so happens that the psyche I enjoy the most within myself, is the one that is constantly learning more about the world we live in and how that is applicable to my life. This is ME, and it is my passion.”
Some say I have ‘Reverse Culture Shock’. I would argue this fact as I don’t think one is better than another, or mine worse than others, they are all relative in my mind. I am a curiosity because I am curious, in the eyes of those who are not.
The smallest things appeal to me when I travel, right down to the differences in de-boning fish for example. I am a highly sensory and tactile person. I could read every book on the freakin’ planet about the differing techniques and I still couldn’t do it, until I do it! I purchased one hundred flying fish in Barbados to the utter amazement of the vendor, just to perfect the technique.
The roe, fresh from the belly, eaten off the bloody knife, was a delicacy I couldn’t find at home. Just the experience… A hundred brilliant-blue dead fish in a laundry tub in the middle of the yard; blood and guts, me slurping up the eggs off a knife and putting the ‘melts’ ( I am told these are the testicles and they are delicious fried in butter. They taste like a fresh oyster with the same consistency) aside for later. People congregating and hovering around like I was out on a day pass; faces wrinkled and laughing, giddy and pinching each other to make sure I wasn’t a dream. They were as excited as myself, for differing reasons but I won their respect.
Not only because I wasn’t afraid to get my hands dirty, most don’t clean their own fish, but because I wasn’t afraid to experience them. Because in that moment prejudice, ethno-centricities, hardship and everyday trials of life seemed to evaporate on each held breath of wonder, if only for awhile. Because it was something new, something to share later with friends, a giggle in all of our hearts that brought us together in an understanding that we are all different, yet the same. That we do things differently with the same result. To this day, people at home tell me I’m prejudiced yet, they want me to teach them how to de-bone their fish … properly.
My 22 year old son (an electrician) told me the other day when we were renovating a room, “It takes many minds to get difficult things done”. His boss taught him this at work. His boss is Japanese. His boss is correct. Different cultures think in different ways and, when we combine those thoughts, practices and ideologies, they make the world a much easier place to live. The burden of a collective humanity a lighter load to bare; a giggle in the heart that can cross borders and break down barriers.
I am not a Canadian or an Indian. I’m a gypsy, and as such I wish to explore our Earth. I am emotive, thought provoked and have an experiential attitude toward life and living. I am an explorer, I love all of life and there is more of it … outside of my political, cultural and geographical borders that span lifetimes. I believe we all came from the same place, we are all one, hence the need to sate my many layers. These needs come from somewhere deep inside my soul, they are an inherent part of my being. I am you and you are me – we are one. If this wasn’t the case, we would have no desire to know one another.
Why do I travel? “Because I need to.” Why do you travel?