My first international trip occurred when I was four – we took a ferry to Victoria, Canada from Seattle during a Christmas vacation. I have only three hazy memories from that trip: shivering on the ferry from winter weather so unlike balmy California, walking along some cobblestone streets, and marveling at the snow and woolly mammoths.
In retrospect, I believe the woolly mammoth was behind glass at the Royal British Columbia Museum, but for years I informed people that Canada had weird streets, snow, and woolly mammoths.
By the time I met Aditya I’d had the chance to live abroad in Germany and travel around Europe and Mexico, so I was about as well prepared for a trip to India as anyone can be. Before that first departure, I was remember reading books on travel and India fervently in an effort to make my trip there – and the Hindu wedding Aditya and I would have – more enjoyable and stress-free. Most of the advice I found was garbage, to be honest – Aditya and I had a lot of laughs at the expense of writers who seemed to think that India was entirely composed of only squalor and spirituality, instead of, you know, regular folks living their lives. However, one short quotation I came across prior to that trip still stands out to me – it was great travel advice, especially for someone on her way to her wedding:
A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. – John Steinbeck
Traveling anywhere means leaving the familiar where we’re comfortable and in control – to a large extent, that’s the purpose of travel. And so giving up control, and allowing India to be a shock to my (very Americanized) system ended up being half the fun.