Wednesday 28 January 2015

The Last Place in the World

I'm going to level with you - I have believed, strongly, and for as long as I can remember, that India is the last place in the world I would want to visit. 

And in case you're wondering why, here is what I posted on Facebook as I sat at Heathrow on Monday night:
I feel what's really missing from my life is prolonged exposure to relentless pestering from every living being within a five mile radius, an assortment of vile and inescapable digestive problems and the persistent stench of human waste. So I'm off to India for a couple of months.
I was joking of course, but it's not far from the truth. I don't want to watch grown men shitting in the street, or stray animals feeding on their waste. I don't want to be commodified by every person I encounter or targeted by those looking to exploit my foreignness, gullibility or good nature. Or sadder still, lose my good nature because I come to expect the worst from people. And I don't want my intestines laid to waste by a plethora of undetectable bacteria; to have perhaps the greatest pleasure of all, eating, hijacked from the inside and turned upon itself.

But I'm here anyway, and I'm here because I want to be. Because the last place in the world you want to go to should be the very next place you do. Because life is never more rewarding than when you challenge your preconceptions, reach beyond the limits of what you find comfortable and comforting, and throw yourself headlong towards the things you fear the most.

Most of the time, those things are in our heads. In India, I think a few of them might be on the streets as well....

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