People or places? Which has a bigger impact on our memories? Can we make a distinction between the impact of the two on our experiences? Which is more rewarding?
Over the past month I have been saving up my thoughts on India and just enjoying and embracing the days. I have spent days bouncing between cities, wandering through temples, museums, forts, palaces, memorials, markets, neighborhoods, looking at sights and listening to the streets.
I have also spent days, afternoons and evenings with old friends, new friends, fellow travellers, locals, people I meet while wandering about, some that I approached with questions or requests, some that come up and just want to ask me questions.
What will I remember more? Which will make a larger impact on my memories, thoughts, actions, life?
Yes, I know how odd that sounds. Yes, I am a loner at heart. But I have learned so much more about India, its people, culture, history, past, present and future from my conversations with people that I meet that I could have ever learned from guidebooks or historical explanations. It is nearly impossible to sit alone in India: the natural inquisitiveness (or opportunism) of Indians inevitably leads to me getting into a conversation with groups of people, at varying levels of depth depending on their grasp of English.
Most times I find if difficult to figure out someone’s intentions, and while I have gotten better at picking my places to get into conversations I still tend to be too trusting of people that I meet on the street. As it was explained to me, everybody wants something, ranging from simple info about me and my life to my money. And in fairness, I have initiated many conversations, sometimes for information, sometimes just to talk or learn, but always wanting something myself, however pure my intentions may be.
Trust me, not all random experiences with people have been great. While some have been exhilarating, deep, meaningful, illuminating, many have been tiring, limited, shallow, and a couple have left me angry, depressed, and distrusting of people.
But still I hunger for more interactions, more experiences, more memories.
Thus, despite the abundant history and natural and man-made beauty, it is the people and conversations (travellers and locals alike) that will leave me with my true memories and stories from India. Here’s to two more weeks of embracing India and enjoying more great memories…