I’m a terrible tourist. I hate traveling. These are strange words for someone who, in the first six months of 2014, has plans to visit Indonesia, India, Malaysia, France, Spain, Colorado, and – wait for it – Oxford, Ohio. But the truth is, I hate the process of lugging around bags, waiting for trains, haggling with a taxi driver, etc. And I’ve already seen my lifetime quota of caves, churches, temples, and waterfalls. Once I drag myself to a tourist attraction, I’m often quite happy to be there, but more often than not, in Asia at least, I’m hot, thirsty, and annoyed by all the people blocking my view and attempting to practice their English on me.
I love being in other countries, though. My favorite things to do in other countries are basically my favorite things to do at home – sit in a coffee shop, meet a friend for a drink, relax somewhere peaceful reading a book. I love going to the grocery store to see what they sell in whatever country. I’m always pleased if I can find almonds, peanut butter, plain yogurt, and the other foods I eat basically everyday at home. And I really love working in other countries. I love going to school here and helping the teachers with their English and computer skills. Last week, I started leading a series of workshops to help them develop a teacher evaluation system, and it’s going really well.
Sometimes I can work up the energy to be a tourist. I had an amazing three-week trip though Vietnam last summer. But tourism just isn’t calling me at the moment. I came to volunteer with Deep Griha, and that is what I want to put my energy into. I can come back to India one day and be a tourist. If I didn’t know myself better, I would think this lack of motivation was part of the funk I described a couple of posts back. But I know that forcing myself to go see some buildings or monuments isn’t right for me at the moment. So I’m not going to see the Taj Mahal. I’m not going to the Himalayas or Goa. I don’t even think I’m going to go to Mumbai, 4 hours away. If I wanted to, I could – I’m a volunteer here, after all, I could un-volunteer. But what I really want to do is go to school on Monday and help the teachers type their exam papers, then go home and play uno with the boys at City of Child. And I don’t feel even a little bit bad about that.