There is something fantastic about making it to the end of the country, about being stopped by an endless ocean and not being able to go no further! Even though we were supposed to reach Kanyakumari at 5am, we finally reached India’s southernmost point 3 hours later at 8am. For the first time in India I had slept through my stop and when we awoke we were already going north again through Kerala (a different state!). Damn! How could I have missed it? Why didn’t my alarm wake me up! Right away I started asking people where we were and as soon as I found out we were no longer in Tamil Nadu I woke my travel partner and we got ready to disembark. To this day I still do not know what station we got off at, but as consistent as India is, there were about 6 autowallas waiting for us as we got out of the station. We had a few choices:
- Take a taxi to Kanyakumari (Rs. 1000)
- Take an auto to Kanyakumari (Rs. 600)
- Take another train back to Nagercoil and then a bus to Kanyakumari (“free” + ~Rs. 40 + extra time)
- Try to find a bus straight to Kanyakumari (~Rs. 80 + extra time)
Ultimately we just decided to take an auto to Kanyakumari because we had big packs with us and we wanted a little more sleep before we started doing anything in this town. We were moving pretty fast through southern Tamil Nadu now because we wanted to catch up with friends in Kerala. It meant that we would spend perhaps one full day at the tip and leave again late that night.
3 vast bodies of water come together there: the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. Sitting on a rock with the waves crashing around you provides some great time for reflection. How, where and under what circumstances someone has been brought up really affects how they act and react to this world. Previously, I had given far too little credit to the nurture part of the nature vs. nurture argument. In talking with people around me, I realize what a privilege it is to have come from a family which has shown me that the world is completely open to me and that I can do absolutely anything I want. I have had a loving family who has given me confidence that there is good in the world and shown me that I can trust people around me. I genuinely believe that one of the three largest problems that India is facing is the lack of education for children: specifically being educated about what they can do with their lives, the chances that are out there and the opportunities that are waiting. Generally, it is not the fault of parents, as they themselves do not even know about what is possible. The worst part is that it is just so easy to be stuck in the same cycle, ignorant about prospects which might better use their specific gifts, let them contribute more to the world and perhaps make them happier in doing something they want to do. Many Indians see others taking the opportunities around them and still do not act. It leads me to conclude that even if people see the available chances, they do not believe that they will be able to make it, or that these options are meant for them, or even what to do once on the path to self-improvement. In many cases it comes down to how one has been brought up, and in India might even be indicative of the caste system remnants in a few cases. I have been brought up to believe that I have the same rights to opportunities as those around me and that it just a matter of hard/smart work which will make me as successful as the richest people on the planet (financially, physically, spiritually, in terms of happiness, etc). Anyone who is showing others around them about what is possible, opening their eyes to the endless sea of opportunities available, is doing a great service to the world.
Here’s a photo of Kerala’s backwaters, beautiful natural canals on which we took an 8-hour boat tour. We stopped a few times and saw women making rope, a spice plantation, and even had a lunch on banana leaves.
When leaving Haji Ali’s mosque in Mumbai, I reached into my pocket at realized my camera was missing… I know I had it right before entering the place of worship because I took a picture of the entranceway. I just could not find it in my left pocket, or my right pocket, or any of the other ones. I could not fathom where my camera had gone to. I told the others who I was travelling with and they all checked their pockets. Pretty quickly it dawned on me that I had been pickpocketed. Someone must have swiped the camera while I was protecting my phone and wallet in my other pockets. Inside the mosque there was a crushing mass of people moving around the central chamber and it could have been at any point that someone took the camera. Asking around afterwards did not yield any results, and once I gave up on finding the camera there was actually little resentment on my part: the people we saw were so poor that even my cheap camera might be worth more than they would earn in a few months, if not more time. It is sad that someone would be driven to steal from another, but in this case it was ultimately my fault for not having guarded my property more carefully. To date this has been my largest contribution to the Islam faith.
Unfortunately this means that I have no pictures of my time on Goan beaches. They were very relaxing, let’s just leave it at that.
- Even the most educated people are littering & there is garbage everywhere. I am very proud to say that I have never consciously littered here in India
- At the end of 5 months I am still only drinking water from bottles, no tap or filtered water for me
- Safety in Delhi is a much bigger problem than I had originally thought. Mumbai, a much larger metropolis, is noticeably much safer at night and so it is not just the size of the city which is to blame.
- Everything is loud (cafeteria, traffic, merchants on the street, etc.), but almost illogicality people talk very softly; so soft that many can answer and maintain phone calls in the middle of lectures.