Friday, November 29, 2013

20 Things I Took For Granted Until Traveling

Delhi Airport, India
1. Being able to wet my toothbrush under the tap water pouring from the faucet

2. Football season and buffalo wings, even the shitty ones (both included)

3. Emails. I hit a point with emails where I got very lazy with them. Where I used to immediately write people back and write long, long notes, I ended up getting lazy, probably because my attention span got shorter. I am not great with responding right away now, mainly because we don't always have a wifi signal. But getting an email now is such a treat and now I try to take my time writing people back. Emails are like old school letters all over again and I realize how amazing an email is. I can send a message to space and have it land in front of you, no matter where you are in the world, in seconds.

4. Exercise. You can't run in hiking boots without destroying your feet. And as much as I have tried to keep up with some lunges, push ups, and planks, it is hard to get down on the ground in places where the ground ain't so clean and when you are constantly on the move. I have lost weight since being on this trip but I have lost muscle mass in a way that feels gross. I look so forward to taking advantage of my old park run and my old YMCA gym membership when I get back.

5. Gingerale - this one is all Mike.
Stray dog, Darjeeling, India

6. America - For as much as democracy is broken in America and my country has embarrassed herself with the recent government shutdown and blah, blah, blah...I appreciate and respect my country more now than ever before. We have clean water, waste management, electricity, and an infrastructure that takes care of those less fortunate if they so seek help.

7. Women's Rights in the Western World. In 2012, over 600 rapes were reported in Delhi and only one resulted in a conviction. I have never felt more uncomfortable, even threatened, and or felt my general "femaleness" as I have in certain parts of India, Morocco, and even Turkey. On several occasions I have read through an Indian newspaper and had my mind blown with stories about the country's refusal to ban child brides, by the still accepted practice of bride burning, and even a complicated manipulative story of a premeditated rape that involved a 16 year old girl's parents delivering her to the man who violated her. While violent crimes against women happen in every town, city, and country, in the US, I won't get killed if I try to do something about it and I can expect a certain level of justice to take place.

8. Fixed prices. Something I learned about myself: I hate haggling.

9. Decent Public restrooms with toilet paper and soap- On this trip I have been faced a couple times with the possibility of either shitting my pants or using a public restroom in certain countries, or hell, even a toilet on the train and I have chosen to risk the former than bear the latter. We both keep a roll of toilet paper on us at all times, because 9 times out of 10, if you do find a place where you absolutely have to go, it will not have toilet paper.

10. Food sanitation laws - Walk through the Fez Medina where on any given day you will see a butchered camel's head hanging next to its testicles hanging next to a skinned goat's carcass covered in flies and you will appreciate all those shiny packaged wrap cutlets and chops you buy in the States, organic or not.
Chicken Feet & Chicken

11. Wifi and Google- When we find a strong wifi signal we both breathe deep sighs of relief and thank the Google gods for their brilliant search engine powers that bring us imperative information no matter where in the world we are...except maybe I'll let you know how that goes.

12. A long hot shower

13. The American dollar - While in NYC, I feel I never have enough of it, when I can buy a three course meal in India for under $2, I feel grateful for my country's "fragile" economy.

14. Peanut butter - When Mike and I find a jar of Skippy Super Chunk, it's like finding the Holy Grail of American comfort food. We have carried a jar on us except for three barren weeks in Morocco and it has gotten us through 12 hour train rides, overnight airport slumber parties, and general stomach bugs when a scoop of peanut butter is just about the only thing that does not go right through us.

15. Spayed & neutered dogs & cats - Mike says that in America we can all thank Bob Barker for this. I've never seen so many strays in my life and some of the dogs I have seen have needed so badly to be put down, you kind of hope they do get hit by a car just to put them out of their insanely inhumane living and obvious misery. The stray dogs have been heartbreaking and even some of the cats (which I generally dislike), I have felt a genuine concern for.

16. Salads

17. Polyester - When you are allergic to wool and freezing your ass off, nothing feel as cozy as layering yourself in as much synthetic fabric as possible.

18. My freedom to wear as little clothes as I want in America - and nothing will make you appreciate this until, as a woman, you have to cover most of your skin, even your head, in 90 degrees weather.

19. Tampons and the Diva Cup - Both impossible to find in certain countries, but thankfully having one or the other has saved me from many an uncomfortable all day bus or train ride.

20. My inherent privilege - a thing I never acknowledged before, but feel everyday I get to spend one more morning in a new place in a different part of the world meeting people from worlds I would otherwise never get to and feeling that gratitude and growth that comes with every moment on this journey.


Anonymous said...

I love that you're doing this trip. And I really love the header image.

Totally cool. And inspiring.


Anonymous said...

I feel a little douchey saying it, but visiting India made me feel much better about our (US) country vs the world at large. Despite all our problems (and of course we have many) it is amazing that millions of people of different colors, countries, backgrounds, religions, beliefs, etc. coexist in relative peace and harmony and are generally safe and secure. Poverty means you survive on government subsidies, whereas in India, it means you may die of starvation in your cardboard shack. Pollution is jerks flicking cig butts out the window, vs piles of garbage 10 feet high lining street after street. Discrimination means you're passed on for the promotion, vs your mosque is bombed because its the wrong sect. These are broad generalities and at times aspects of the US can be as bad as anywhere, but overall, we're in pretty good shape.

Carmen said...

the pic of animal parts made me think of our trip down south exploring the supermarkets of mississippi. also, i love the clip of luis ck. i am assuming you saw this one as well?
(i'm in love with him)
great post
always so good to hear about where you are, what you are doing and get a glimpse into your reflections.
one of the things i took for granted before you went traveling was being able to call you on the phone at whatever hour of whatever day