I arrived in Kochi in southern India after a harrowing 28 hours of travel from Austin and little sleep, somewhat due to the two opportunistic Pakistani's who usurped my full row of seats on the flight into Abu Dabhi. India is 10 and a half hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, yeah they threw a half hour in there so that the entire country could have one time zone instead of two, interesting explanation here.
Needless to say, my sense of time was flipped and when I got to the $6 a night guesthouse, I sat down, knowing I needed to get some sleep but that I shouldn't or else I'd risk screwing up my jet lag recovery by sleeping the day away. Resisting the temptation, I sat in the lounge area and opened my laptop to check on the goings on in the world. Within 20 minutes, a Brit, a German and an Australian had joined and I was swept off to breakfast at a place called Kasha Art Cafe, an interesting art gallery turned cafe supporting a bastion of tourists with a tasty omelet offering.
We had a lively debate on world politics and economics over breakfast that led to some heated discussion on the walk back and on the porch of the guesthouse. It was in this moment that I realized what I like so much about foreign travel. The freedom of expression and sharing among a variety of people from all over the world.
The ability to be in the same place with people from diverse backgrounds and to share an experience with them with limited reservations. When you're traveling (and perhaps always), you can do anything, be anything, and go anywhere. Express exactly what you think or say nothing at all, with no reservations or history dictating a precedent. Want to get the silly looking fisherman pants and wear them, go ahead,.. bracelets, braids, dreads, no showers... anything goes. Tats, long hair, short hair, piercings, cursing, religion, no religion, dialects, slang, cultural idiosyncrasies, everyone is different but shares the same commonality, travelers from somewhere else in a foreign land. And finally the resultant feeling of oneness with people everywhere, breaking down judgements and preconceived notions when you realize you don't choose where you're born and that only your outlook and actions within your limited scope matter.
It was with this pleasant thought, that a nap seemed unavoidable. 3 missed alarms and 9 hours later, I awoke to people settling into the dorm room for bed and met the next round of short term friends for the following day, a French adventure film maker and a Brit who's spending a few months on a motorcycle touring around India.