My first “real” travel was back in 2005 for a couple of months. It was Mama India !! I was with a couple of friends from University. In reality we just wanted to get away, and we booked our ticket without really knowing what to expect. We landed in Mumbay at night while it was pissing a heavy rain. We arrived in the center of Mumbay who looked alike abandoned. The next morning, we had a stroll around and faced a cultural shock. Cows shitting in the streets, street kids begging for money, harassing street sellers, stinky odours, weak electrical cables tangled per thousands. We hope on a taxi with a Silk driver that had a point to show off the misery of its people. I still remember clearly this day, It was brutal. Suddenly everything looked big, and the weeks we had in India seemed would last forever. It’s been hard on all of us. I hated it. I kind of thought, fuck, I must go back home straight away..
Then we all decided we needed to get out of Mumbay as soon as possible. On the same night we hoped on a bus towards Udaipur, in the Sate of Rajasthan. The same night bus left us in the middle of nowhere the next day at noon. We had to wait a couple of hours before to take a bus that would drive us to Udaipur. We were in a small city in the middle of a desert. Everything was dry, rough. I left my friends to the bus stop and went for a walk with my white face and my big backpack. I still remember clearly this moment. I started to walk in a narrow street where were mixed small basic one floor houses and slums. I was surrounded by dozens of Indians, mainly men. I was not feeling that confident. At this moment I remembered a book I had read few months before, « The Celestine Prophecy ». One part of this book is about how to control and spread your energy level into a positive form, and what it creates around you. I thought very deeply about it at this moment, and decided to have a very open body language and to smile !! And it worked !! I think I hadn’t done more that 200 meters before I started to be surrounded by smiles. People were curious but super friendly and I was soon invited to share a meal with a group of men that were having lunch. They simply smiled at me and shared their food with me. I was mesmerized. I didn’t speak more than few words of English, I was a stranger who looked to have an very easy life compare to them but they didn’t give a fuck. They’ve seen I was alone and “lost”. They greeted me with open arms and generosity. It lasted for a moment. It was as well the first time I was eating with my hands (beside of pizza of course) seeing that it wasn’t any cutleries. I was imitating what they were doing. I thanks them warmly for the meal but somehow they did manage to look happier than me to have share their lunch with me. Few houses later two other men stopped me for a traditional Chaï tea. Once again they open their arms to me and treated me with the best Chaï tea I ever had at this point in my life. It was all simple. We couldn’t really exchange words due to my English level, but smiles and body languages were sufficient to understand each other and have a good time.
This couple of hours were a turning point in my travel, and in my life. First I was falling in love of India and I knew this place was for me and that “nothing” could happen to me there. I also understood that travelling would be important in my life, and that spread positive energy was worth pursuing as a social guide line. I came back from this stroll with stars in my eyes and a very light heart.
All the rest of my journey during this first trip in India would be to the same soul. People super generous, simple, sharing all they could with me. It was as well incredibly easy to communicate and understand each other with simply few words. I still have goose bumps writing those words.