I know none of you want to hear a long-winded summary of how amazing, trying, tribulatifyingtasticnessish, and rewarding my trip was. So I’ll make this a fairly short-winded rundown about my adventure-seeking superiority. Duh.
Yes, really, I did have quite the trip. I had some nasty illnesses and have learned to never again smooch so much with water buffalo. Of the 6 countries I was in–India, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, and Thailand–I also can’t stop thinking about 3 countries in particular: Thailand, Nepal, and India.
India isn’t a terrible country at all; had I been traveling through it and not lived in it, I probably would have liked it a lot more. They just have so many problems there, and as one friend pointed out, they DO have the technology and resources; they’re just unable to spread those resources correctly and have even more corruption than we do here. They’re a country out of control: They believe that their massive population equals massive power. They’re beginning to understand and accept more in terms of marrying outside one’s religion, living with those outside one’s caste, even picking who one can “court.” To me–and this is only my opinion–I almost feel that those in love with India are actually in love with what’s on the surface: Unique and cheap food, beautiful colors, history, kindness, and tradition. I loved that part too. But unlike loving those same things in Thailand—a third-world country that’s happy with that status and has just millions, not billions, of people— India believes it is pushing into the modern world successfully. It’s not. Nothing real can change when the large majority of this billion-plus-member country refuses to even let someone of a lower caste co ok for them. Or how they separate their buses into the female and male sections because men can’t keep their hands to themselves. Or how women aren’t allowed to show skin because of how men may act. And it’s not just me complaining; these issues have real and measurable consequences when that rule means you can’t really exercise, farm, or do things “normal” men do (not that they exercise either). Come now, do you even remember seeing anyone from India in the Olympics? When the population is more than one-sixth of the world? The people were, as I mentioned, some of the most delightful and helpful people ever, and I would quickly rush to try to repay them with the kindness they showed me. But I also know that with a suffering economy, pollution running rampant, and a society that’s never been taught how to deal with strangers, there’s no way they can move forward. It breaks my heart to see such intelligence, corruption, and poverty (not that I even saw near the worst of it) juxtaposed in such a way, and simultaneously makes me feel so afraid and disdainful of what this country is doing to their own people—and to the world. When will it stop?
In other news, I still think about Thailand, Nepal, and India every day. Thailand still has horrible food but incredible scenery and situations as always. Nepal had great food AND incredible scenery. And India was great when I was visiting its people and enjoying the surface instead of working and understanding its many pitfalls. How very hypocritical of me, right?
It shocks me at how easy it is to travel in seemingly foreign and faraway places. To those who have never ventured beyond (your local big city), Paris and Cancun, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur probably sound scary and full of the unexpected. Well, they are, but too many never get that far. There are always hoards of young adults—many wearing “PUB CRAWL 2012 PHUKET – AN EXPERIENCE I ALREADY FORGOT” wife beaters—who hop from city to city, often in groups, visiting monuments, drinking on the cheap, hooking up with other foreigners, and looking exhausted and hungover at border crossings. Is this travel? Sure it is, though it’s not travel I’m a fan of. It shocks me how I can actually be working with someone in a foreign country who is so ignorant to what’s going on right outside our windows, or how you can live for years in an unfamiliar city and still elect to go to the local Starbucks every day. Is travel about comfort? I guess for most it is. For me, I seem to brag most about the uncomfortable situations. I will never forget how crazy it was to be yelled at for having the wrong bit of stomach flab show in my saree, feel scared and lost while sick and seemingly alone in the mountains, get assistance while literally stuck in the mud during rice planting, and be judged by Indian neighbors for wearing shorts in my own home. How could YOU not want to experience THAT?! Those experiences are what I’m most curious about, at least, and I think it’s a lot closer to real adventure than tour guides. Why travel halfway around the world to do the same old when you can have be standing on a rubber tree farm, weilding a dangerous tool of sorts, unsure of what’s about to come next because something is biting your leg and no one around you speaks English?
I guess that’s enough from me this time around, but I’m always, always happy to share stories. Best of all? I have an amazing adventure coming up…well, in 2 days. You’ll hear about it soon! Until then, over and out. It’s been real, crazy, and absolutely unforgettable.
[Here are some of my favorite new photos from throughout my trip. Enjoy!]
1. (Top) My friend’s sister, a nomade living in Nepal’s Himalayas
2. (Above) The wind catches a woman’s saree
3. Crazy, awesome, magnificent bugs in Thailand
4. A student’s family in India, or the guessing game of Who Is Out Of Place In This Photo?
5. Teaching in Thailand, or the most set-up looking photo ever (it wasn’t)
6. Looking out in southern India
7. Showing neighbors my photos in Thailand (my friend translated for them)
8. And then there was that time one of the greasy locals grabbed me, put his arm around me (I was laughing uncomfortably), and proceeded to…BITE ME?! Stay away from this guy.
9. I can dress up. Sort of. Me and my first roommate, Claire, on conference day
10. Being blessed by the locals
11. Learning to play the sitar
12. My usual posse of men. Kidding, kidding, they’re my students. Oh come on, stop being nasty!
13. Women of the woods
(4) Somebody’s givin’ you the stinkeye.
(4) Lack of midget.
(4) One of these is not like the other
(5) super pic..
(5) Hallo Teacher!!
(5) Go teachers!
(5) Nw i wana b a teacher lol 😀
(5) nc e to see u again on FB.
(5) This dress remembered my privies days .
(5) I like so much your teaching method madam.
Awe ..lovely pictures!! You both look SO happy and the lttile guy is adorable! Can’t wait to find out his name! Hope you are both getting some sleep while at the hospital xoxo
(5) Creative teaching.
That\’s a mo-eabrelkdr. Great thinking!
I have been so bewildered in the past but now it all makes sense!
If I communicated I could thank you enough for this, I’d be lying.
(5) I learned my ABC’s Miss Cooper! 🙂
(5) Hai Kathryn Cooper Your Teaching is very Innovative way.
(6) nice …
(6) I love nature.Nice photo
(6) It’s very nice madam
(6) Who is that big woman, I can say talking behide her back.
(6) Where was this taken, Coop?
(6) Hi Ben! It was at Savandurga (India), one of the largest monoliths in Asia. I saw wild elephants just about 20 minutes later.
(6) Oops, just saw the caption of the photo! It’s so beautiful. I love reading about your travels!
I was very pleased to find this wsbtiee.I wanted to thanks for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.best regards
Now we know who the sensible one is here. Great post!
Hahahaha. I’m not too bright today. Great post!
(11) SITAR!!!!!!!!! Sweeeet
(11) Amazing! What was it like????! And I love this photo! Who took it?
(11) One of my students took the photo! I’m terrible at string instruments, so I was not very good. It was an interesting experience.
(11) I love living life through you!!
(11) wow you have students!, you must be pretty important
(11) i will think of you when i see Zakir Hussain in March! Looks like you are having an amazing time.
(11) Thank you in advance for sending it to me. I shall be eagarly waiting by my mailbox.
(11) Wait- do I see a cape??
(11) Thanks all…I think! Clinton – it’s called a dupatta and it is often worn with your outfit. Just to cover up any shape women might have, ’cause they don’t like that here.
(11) Riiight. Nice cape. What crimes are you currently fighting in India?
101Nice blog here! Also your website loads up very fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your aftiilafe link to your host? I wish my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol
You’ve hit the ball out the park! Incredible!
It’s always a relief when someone with obvious expertise answers. Thanks!
Information is power and now I’m a !@#$ing dictator.
(11) Why are you whiter than that man’s shirt and the back drop?
(11) you’re so badass
(11) LOVE THE SITAR
(11) Best singer
(12) Evem im msng You Mam and missing those days whc v spnt in DF …:)
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