A Banana, A Samosa, and A Chocolate

“Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.”

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India is known for its poverty. There are beggars in every town, and as a tourist, it is sometimes hard to walk past them without feeling bad, especially if you are holding food that they obviously need more than you do. I usually walk by with my head down and try to not concentrate on how unjust our world is for some. It is not that I don’t want to help them, but if I gave every beggar I encountered money, I too would be broke (plus, by giving money, you can’t guarantee it’s not going towards alcohol or drugs). In Rishikesh there are plenty of beggars, homeless Indians as well as Babas who choose to be homeless, basically relying on the kindness of others to get them through. I decided for a day to change my philosophy, and instead of giving nothing to everyone, I gave some food, a banana, a samosa, and a chocolate, to every homeless I passed.

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A Childhood Obsession

“You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough.”

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Jane Goodall was my hero when I was younger. I always thought I would grow up to live in an African forest amongst the chimpanzees just like her. I had read her books, knew the names of her chimps, and had posters covering every inch of my walls with animals, notably monkeys of all kinds. I was an absolute fanatic, and apparently there is a little bit of that childhood love left in me. Everyday at four (in Richikesh) I visited the same spot where I knew a family of white monkeys always came. Sometimes I brought banana peels and other treats, and other times I just watched them wander and climb around as monkeys do. They are very docile, and didn’t care much if your approached them. The second you opened your bag though, they would all crowd around expecting a treat.

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Amongst My Own Kind

“We are born into a complex world. Its nature. Its history. Its cultures. Ours to absorb. We are small, but we are fearless. We explore, we question, we test the world. Young and unburdened, we are not afraid of the answers we might find…”

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Well, I got stuck again for a week (at this rate it’s going to be months until I make it to Nepal), but it was a much needed break to recharge my metaphorical, well, and camera batteries. Though I’m on the road to meet the locals and experience their ways of life, I will admit it’s very nice to be with my own kind. I ended up in Richikesh, a very touristy town because it’s near the source of the Ganga, and because it has become a sort of yoga capital. The town is filled with what I refer to as “lost travelers,” people on the road for years on end, often because they have no home or family and don’t really know what to do. India seems to attract many of these such travelers as it is easy to get a visa and because it is one of the cheapest countries to live in. There were also an astounding amount of yoga fanatics, people who come to India just to take classes and do their daily practice. It was a funny mix of travelers, definitely not what I consider a typical backpacking crowd in most of the world. And since it was a town with so many westerners, I was thankfully not starred at or watched constantly. It was nice to have a few days of easy travel, knowing where I would be sleeping that night and having somewhere to store my bags.

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