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Traveller’s seek…….. a forgone conclusion

There is only one species that is going to change the consciousness of the planet – the seeker and the cross cultural traveller!

Some 30 years back the planet opened up. Countries that were closed because of internal policies, wars and turmoil became peaceful and opened their door to visitors. People left borders behind and took travel as a human right. They went out exploring, learning and connecting to other cultures, continents and places. Of course it was not all sunshine out there. Many western people realised the power of their money and brought suffering in forms of prostitution, drugs and other human abuse to many places and unfortunately to some extend continue to do so.

Yet, travel became the means to connect and getting to know each other. Because of this keen seeking to keenness to understand the world enjoys today a variety of wonderful manifestations.

We enjoy fusion music, world cuisine, student exchange programs, international researches in almost all fields, and so many more. Without the curious seeker, on whats beyond the boundaries of his home land much of this would never have happened.

If I look at todays world, it seem that travel is often no longer a human right, but slowly turning into a privilege. Right wing politics, racism, religion and “the so called war on terror” are closing down ever more borders and from the look of it, travel will even get more restrictive in the years to come.

Even the knowledge that it is just a few big conglomerates that benefit from the present war mongering is not going to change the situation as it stands.

However we can live without Avocados from Chili that turn vast landscapes into desert.

We can live without mangoes and beef from the amazon, who’s production destroys thousands of hectares of land each year. We can exist without changing the car every two years and we certainly can live without the handbags and shoes from high end fashion brands, because we know that they produce them at minimum wages in horrible conditions in Bangladesh and Vietnam.

What we should not live without, is travelling the globe. Experiencing new cultures, learning new ways of live and fill our memories with un-deletable pictures from what we experienced. Even the carbon print produced by travelling is offset by a long shot if we live a little bit more local at home.

Tourism is the only industry, not dominated by the very few big and dominant corporations. Its core drivers are local hoteliers, local money and local employment. Tourism weaves a string between cultures and is by all means forged by human spirit. If you choose well, you will always find the local spirit in where ever you go.

Easter is symbolically the resurrection of the spirit and if we travel, we will continue to use the experiences we make to transform our inside. Even Emperors like Akbar realised it in his vision of “Din-i Ilahi”; which says that if you merge all your knowledge and experiences of all cultures and religions, your wisdom and tolerance will be without limit.

Mother and child

 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Old man and modern times

Old man and modern times

Most rewarding I find those little roadside chats in India. Just sit down at the local tea stall and chat up some people. Indians are always friendly and happy about chatting away for some time. especially if you make the effort to learn a few words in one of the local languages.
India is in spite of all the recent news about rape and crime still a safe country to travel. What unfortunately has changed over the last year is that single woman travellers have more difficulties than in the good old days before the internet reached all nooks and corners of the country. Sadly the consumption of porn (and India is apparently one of the biggest consumers of online porn) has given a complete wrong picture about western women. In the eyes of many man, western women seem to be perceived as willing to have sex with any man. As a friend of mine recently told me after visiting India a dozen times or more that for India modern development happened too fast and that therefore so many cultural values are left behind, or being adapted to western concepts. I do agree on this perception. Working with India for nearly 3 decades there has been a tremendous change, considering that till 1984 all the development was influenced by the former Soviet Union. Only after the death of Indira Gandhi in August 84 the economical development turned to the west. India then fell pray to the abundant western greed to lower production costs, without giving the benefit to its own population. The trend of “outsourcing” productions to low wage countries became a craze among western CEO’s as it enabled them to show huge profits and earn even bigger bonuses. India with its wide spread use of english and cheap, but skilled labour became the paradise for foreign investors. While the west lost strength in its middle class, in India the middle class started booming. Concepts like small family, happy family started to come up, mixed up with the tradition that boys are have the responsibility for their parents and girls leave home. Everybody wanted boys. Today there is only Kerala with a normal male/female ratio in the country. The rest of India is increasingly suffering from a huge male surplus in the population. Seeing this, India will have an increasing share of crime against women. Many men will not be able to have a family and thus feel bypassed by society. On one hand this could highlight and increase the culturally so highly propagated status of the feminine energy (Shakti, Laxmi) historically recognised as the source of wealth and wellbeing, or it could very well end up in a disaster for the status of women over the next few decades. Musing about the many possibilities a country can take it leaves me with the conclusion that woman travellers are actually safer in the company of trusted men.

Women power in Chettinadu

Women power in Chettinadu

You will be amazed to know that these women have decided to take fate into their own hands and started a very successful business in Chettinad, in Tamil Nadu. What was a favour once to a neighbour to create delicious sweets and spicy treats for a wedding function, turned into a steady flow of customers. Today these women are well organised into groups to share the workload and cater daily to shops and for all sorts of functions.
This project can be visited and sweets tasted and bought, while staying at the amazing heritage hotel, Visalam of the CGH Earth group.