This is not the post you’re looking for

For anyone who has been expecting to see news of my grand adventure, I apologize. I have done some writing and uploaded some pictures that I haven’t posted publicly yet. And, I’m sorry, you might have gotten excited to see that I’m finally posting something, but don’t be. If you are looking for a fun travelogue – this is NOT the post you are looking for and you should do us both a big favor and stop reading now.

Okay. So now I’m probably writing this to just myself, but that’s probably best anyway. It will be a nice documentation of just how lame and ridiculous I truly am and, well, we all need that, right? Especially when one has self-esteem issues and depression issues, amiright? 😉

Anyway. I’m giving up. This trip was not a good idea, and I suppose if I had any brains worth speaking of, I would have figured that out during the “planning stages,” before wasting a bunch of money and getting myself (and some of you) all excited, just for it to end in crashing disappointment. But, hey. That’s life, right?

I have no idea why I thought I would enjoy this. I hate it. There are a number of reasons.

I suppose we should start with getting the following reason out there first: I’m a horrible, privileged middle class American who is shallow and can’t appreciate anything beyond her ken. That’s what I’ve been howling at myself for the past few days, in spite of Pete doing his best to convince me that it is NOT the case. There’s probably a little truth to both sides. I’m probably not as horrible as I think, but maybe worse than he thinks.

So, the possibly more rational and less self-loathing reasons I’ve come up with are as follows:

(1)

A person should not attempt to battle depression by taking a trip to a country teeming in abject poverty.

Just.

Don’t.

It does NOT make you suddenly see that your life is so wonderful by comparison. It does NOT suddenly imbue life with a sense of purpose and meaning. What it does is makes you say to yourself, “WTF? All these people are living like this, like THIS! And they manage to not slit their wrists as soon as they are old enough to recognize a razor blade and pick it up. And yet you can’t manage to get through a single day without thinking ‘why even bother continuing’?” What I see here doesn’t make me more inspired to enjoy the privileged life I have. It just makes me want to retch.

And hide in my hotel room.

In a fetal position.

(2)

Uh, note to self:

Cities in India?

Maybe not the best idea for a person who doesn’t even like to go to Lollapolooza, even though they might actually enjoy the music, because it it is too crowded.

I just cannot describe the crowds, traffic, and noise to someone who has not been here. It is… Nope, I cannot. I was not prepared for it. I guess my brain just wasn’t imaginative enough to envision this level of population density. And Kathmandu, Bangkok, and Ho Chi Minh, will only be slightly better.

What one must remember when looking at population density data is the presence or absence of mid- and high- rise buildings. I’m not saying there aren’t any, but I really didn’t see any in Delhi or here in Jaipur. All that extra population is not expanding upwards, it is just being squeezed tighter and tighter. Tokyo has a high population density, but it also has lots of very tall buildings. I’m guessing I would probably still find the crowds of Tokyo pretty daunting, too.

(3)

Yeah, traveling alone sucks a little, although I think parts of it can be a somewhat liberating.

However…

Traveling alone when you do not speak the language of anyone around you REALLY, REALLY sucks.

When I went to Costa Rica, I mostly was around people who spoke English natively, or who were somewhat bilingual. And, hell, I can speak and understand Spanish myself as long as the other person is patient and speaks slowly (which they were kind enough to do.)

When I went to Europe, everyone could speak English almost as well as I do. But I still was able to manage some conversations in French, Dutch, a tiny bit of Icelandic, and surprisingly Spanish (Although we didn’t go to Spain, I actually spoke extensively with two Spanish speaking tourists who were happy to let me stumble through it.)

I tried, a little late in the game, to learn some Hindi, but it was very different from any language I’ve learned before and it came very, very slowly. Somewhere I had gotten the impression that most Hindustanis who dealt with tourists in India knew English. That is not even remotely the case. And I even had major communication breakdowns with the guy who set up my tours, and he spoke English very well – certainly better than any other Hindustani that I came across.

I’m sometimes a quiet person. I often need my alone time, this is true. But I have to be able to communicate. I guess this was something I learned through this Big Mistake Trip.™ That idea I was tossing around my head about possibly training to be an ESL teacher? Uh, I may want to rethink that one. Could I really cope with the frustration of starting at a point of almost no communication? Even if it does move one toward the noble goal of eventual increased communication?

I hate not being able to communicate with others. And I am really learning absolutely nothing about life and culture here, because I can’t actually speak to the people who live here. It’s a lose-lose situation.

And it’s lonely when you can’t talk with or understand anyone around you. It’s very different when you choose to be antisocial for a while. But to have it forced upon you by necessity, day after day, is maddening.

So, that is why, even though I don’t think some of the other Asian countries I was planning to go to are as extremely poverty ridden as India, I still don’t think I would enjoy moving on to Nepal and Southeast Asia. If there is even the possibility that I won’t be able to communicate effectively with 95% of the people I come in contact with, I don’t think I will learn anything real about the culture and will just be continuously frustrated and depressed. Hell, I can get the latter back home and not go through the trouble.

So what now?

I realized there were two things that I have enjoyed on this trip. The first was the food. Of course, Indian food. Absolutely my favorite in the world, that I’ve had thus far. But now that I don’t have the English speaking tour guy helping me out, I can’t even figure out how to find a good restaurant. The hotel I’m staying in here in Jaipur has a restaurant. Of course they aren’t going to give me advice on going somewhere else.

The other thing was, I REALLY enjoyed the two occasions during which I hung out with the couple of Hindustani who spoke English and a whole bunch of other travelers – mostly European. I had a great time. We all spoke English, but I also spoke French to the French couple and a bit of Dutch with a few German guys who also knew a bit of Dutch. I enjoyed that much more than walking around in really hot, humid weather, taking photos of monuments built by really poor people to honor really rich dudes To be fair, I found that difficult when I was in Europe, too. Beauty is tainted when you look too closely at how it was created, and at what cost, but I won’t veer onto that tangent right now.

I’m sorry, south and southeast Asia – I don’t think it is the right time for us. I don’t know if it ever will be. Maybe with an expensive structured tour that I choose not to throw money at right now.

So, I feel I have two choices.

One – Go home.

Two – Go to a part of the world where I might actually enjoy myself.

After spending the last day and a half trying to work through this, I THINK I’ve decided to not end my journey just yet, but rather take a western bound detour back to Europe again. I will sleep on it again tonight, and maybe I’ll change my mind. But if not, I’ll probably book a flight to Amsterdam for Sept 17.

Yes that’s right, this will not happen immediately – I can’t afford to get airline tickets without some advance purchase, and I already paid out a lot of money (more than I had planned to spend) for the India part of the journey.

So there you have it. Maybe at some point I’ll try to post some of the stuff I started to write. And more pictures. We’ll see. Right now, I’m tired of blogging.

If you feel I’m being an idiot, please feel free to NOT share that with me quite yet. I’m having a hard enough time dealing with my own self criticism. Do lay it on later when I seem better able to handle it, though.

Cheers.

14 thoughts on “This is not the post you’re looking for”

  1. Unless you are teaching newcomer adults, you wouldn’t be in a class of all the people knowing no English. You could absolutely be an ESL teacher. Happy to talk more if you’re curious.

  2. I wish I had contacts in the cities you’re heading for that could help at least point you in the right directions — in your place I wouldn’t miss Bangkok for the world.

    I know there are services to help find local guides – this article has several http://www.guidingtech.com/28817/hire-local-travel-guide/ but I’ve never used any of them.

    Here’s a thought: see how many temples you can “collect” in your wanderings. They’ve got to be better places for quiet and peace. We visit a lot of churches in Europe for the art and architecture (Sue has a photo album just of pulpits, which I call “Priest’s Treehouses”).

  3. An idea to ponder: Ask for an ESL teacher/class/school close by – and pay a student to show you around -or- go to the classes and help the professor to teach English “listening to a different person’s accent helps”. You can get to know the culture and the people by doing this.

    1. Those sound like good ideas, but unfortunately I can’t get a clear response to “Where can I buy laundry soap?” let alone something as complex as what you describe. Also, they would then take you somewhere you don’t actually want to go, where a friend tries to sell you something you don’t want, and you are stuck paying for the ride. You really can’t walk anywhere. Crossing a street without assistance is risking life and limb, I kid you not. Have you been here? Oh for the quiet pleasantness of Costa Rica! I considered that as my next stop, but wrong season. 🙁

  4. I just wanted to let you know that I’m here and I’m reading. I feel your frustration and don’t have any pearls of wisdom to share. Hugs.

  5. I’d like to point out in my own defense that the word “not” is missing from the fifth paragraph. Sorry…writer/editor guy and all that. 😉

    This is a learning experience, and you’ve been learning something you didn’t expect. Now you’re adapting. These are the traits that helped our ancestors move out of the trees!

    I’ve already told you what I think, but I’ll reinforce it here: this trip took guts, changing your plans takes guts, and being honest about it is a beautiful thing. And I’m glad I read this because you clarified some factors you only bumped into when we talked.

    Take some time, look around, take the pressure off yourself, and decide where you’re headed next. I hope you end up in Greece at some point, but that’s just my brain talking. It’s *your* trip. Now go find yourself some Anglophones!

  6. I’ve often enjoyed my travels much more in retrospect than during the experience. I had a very disappointing trip in the states where nothing happened the way I thought it would and my child drove me crazy the rest of the time and broke my computer on purpose! You are right to recognize what isn’t working and do something to change it. It would be a shame to miss the Taj Mahal, though.

    1. I decided to muddle my way through the rest of my paid for itinerary in India, which includes seeing the Taj Mahal in around week.

  7. I am proud of you for trying, proud of you for being honest with yourself, never mind us. You will find your way…eventually.

  8. Hope things are going better…lotsa pschycic hugs sent your way from Nick and I. The phone was unplugged, sorry we missed your call.

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