From the time we Indians are born, we are always taught the tenet of “Unity in Diversity“. This is based on the fact that though we have a number of different religions, regions, castes, languages, food items and more in the country, we still live in a united India. Yes, everything is not as perfect as it was intended with discrimination at various levels but then we still celebrate each others festivals, have different types of food and even speak more than one language.
Growing up in an environment like this has always taught me to appreciate diversity in every form. Having traveled to more than 25 countries across Europe, Asia and Africa, I have met people from across the board. It has given me interesting perspectives of their culture, their thoughts and even their beliefs. Eg: Saving and investing a certain amount of money is not just an Indian or specifically an Asian thing.
Meeting people who are different than we are also plays a strong role in helping remove stereotypes and myths created over many years. Eg: Not everyone from Africa deals in drugs and human trafficking.
It’s only when you travel to a particular place do you realize how the people and the place actually are. A lot many sections of the media create nothing but propaganda and hysteria depending on whose side they are from. Eg: Moscow and many cities in the Middle East are more modern in terms of architecture and open minded than proclaimed by many sections in the media.
As a traveler, I have always believed that you need to understand the culture of any city you visit. This is only possible if you visit the heart (read ‘old part‘) of any city. Perge in Antalya, the palaces and mosques in Istanbul, the metro in Moscow, the forts of Oman, Ajloun castle in Jordan, Acropolis in Greece, the museums across cities in Europe all have a major role to play in lending a voice to the heart and soul of any city.
There goes a saying – “Do in Rome as the Romans do“. For those looking to have an authentic travel experience, I would always encourage to mix with the locals whether its their cuisine, the public transport they take and even the hangout spots they frequent. This is the best way you get the real feel of any city.
I have always felt that the love to travel goes hand in hand with the love for exploration of new cultures, meeting new people and trying new cuisines. It makes us open minded to different perspectives and thoughts. It changes the way we see the world. In a way, loving the world makes us love humankind even more.