I started as the hero of my journey. After all, it is not every day that you come across an Indian girl who decides to go on a Round the World trip all by herself.
This journey around the world was about me and all the fantastic things that I was doing. It was about my adventures and misadventures. Until I ran into a series of problems on the road.
I got stuck at French – Spanish border, late one night with no place to sleep. On that cold night, a group of hippies gave me company and ensured my comfort. A few days later, a taxi driver in Stockholm risked the traffic rules so I don’t miss my crucial connecting train. Two backpackers surprised me by cooking a vegetarian meal when they got to know that I was facing problems in finding vegetarian food in Oslo. In Myanmar, on one darkest and scariest night, an elderly couple stood by my side, in the middle of a highway, for 2 hours to ensure my safety.
I can really go on and on telling you about such incidents from my journey. Whenever I ran into some problem, there was always someone who came by to help.
When I look back to the time when I decided to quit my job to travel on my own, this was not the world that people warned me against. Every person without exception told me that it was a bad idea. “This world is a dangerous place, Leena. You have no idea of what can happen with you – you can get killed, robbed or raped.”
To be honest, even I was skeptical about the world. I thought I would meet a lot of baddies. Look around, analyze the news- this is what we hear about and talk about the most – hatred, strife, crimes, pain, and torture. I’m not against this kind of news coverage – we need to inform the world about these issues; only when we accept, we can change. But what about the positive news. How many times do we hear about good news – the subway runs perfectly well for 364 days a year, said nobody ever. The day it breaks down, make the news.
So the truth is that such incidents happen all around us all the time. But we are conditioned to not notice them. In our regular lives, we are always told to be skeptical of goodness. If someone is good, there has to be a motive behind.
We are told that this world is bad. It is a dog eat dog world & if we want to survive here, we have to outdo others. So if someone slaps us once, we have to slap him twice or at least twice as hard. The forgiveness and empathy are usually taken for lack of courage. And before we realize, we let the goodness of our heart slip away.
And this is the lesson that I learned when I quit my job to travel around the world. I quit the job to explore landscapes, to check off my bucket list, to learn about cultures and religions and history of the world. And in exploring, discovering, challenging, embracing, learning and unlearning; in this last 24 months of traveling, I have come face to face with the goodness that I thought the world has lost long back. I’m truly indebted to all these people I met who changed the way I look and connect with the world now.
What is this world? It is the people it has. It is ‘you’ and ‘I’ – and the goodness that we hold in our heart makes this world good or bad.
Please don’t listen to those who tell you about the world. Those who have never traveled told me the scariest stories. Go yourself and experience the truths. And when somebody comes to your country, maybe you are the Goodness Story that they take back and tell their world.