Sunday, September 22, 2013

You win, Dad. We're Not Going to India... This Time.

Since the idea for our trip came to life, Sarah and I have gone back and forth countless times over whether or not we should include India on our recklessly tentative list of potential destinations itinerary. The idea of traveling to India is extremely compelling as students and teachers of the practice of yoga.

While there are many destinations within India where we could practice yoga in the very country of its origin, we settled on Rishikesh, a town in the northern state of Uttarakhand on the banks of the holy Ganges River. Often called the "Yoga Capital of the World," Rishikesh is home to dozens of ashrams where visitors can study yoga and meditation.



Since putting India on the table, we've gotten lots of feedback from friends and family discouraging us from going there. The main concern is sexual harassment and violence against women, particularly young, white, American women like us. While I recognize that the recent extreme horror stories in the media are probably outliers, it seems as though accounts of groping, stalking, relentless staring, and unwanted attention from men are very common. From what I've read, Rishikesh itself doesn't seem to be particularly dangerous, but the journey from the airport in New Delhi to Rishikesh could put us at risk.

While we've decided against visiting India for now, the threat of violence was only one factor on the "con" side of the list. The need for anti-malarial medication, the hassle of obtaining a visa, and a limited budget are relatively minor concerns that wouldn't otherwise stop me, but they tipped the scales for this particular journey.

I think it's important to note that these kinds of crimes can and do happen literally anywhere in the world, including the United States. I wouldn't walk alone at night in certain parts of Boston, let alone other major cities in the US, Europe, and elsewhere.

Just because some Indian men committed heinous crimes doesn't warrant the assumption that all Indian men are predators. That would be straight-up racism, folks. It's that kind of thinking that breeds hate and disunity across the world. Part of the attraction of traveling is to learn first-hand what another culture is like through your own personal experiences, rather than ignorantly accepting stereotypes.

There are many accounts of women traveling in India who have been violated or assaulted to varying degrees, and I certainly don't mean to invalidate their experiences. However, let's remember that there are also plenty of women who have fantastic experiences traveling in India, and positive interactions with it's men. Travel writer Candace Rardon recently wrote an incredibly inspiring piece on this topic - please check it out here.

India isn't on the itinerary this time, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed - but I'm keeping an open mind for venturing there in the future. So go ahead, Dad, breathe that sigh of relief (for now).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I Think We Should See Other People



The countdown has begun! At this hour and in approximately eight days from now, we’ll be on our flight from NYC to Vancouver for the first leg of our trip.  I may feel ready to leave, but I’m not sure I’m willing to break-up with Boston for good.  Hear me out.  I’ve been living here for over a year, and the anticipation of leaving has made me present to the fact that I’m in love with Boston.  Yes, the L word. It’s worth mentioning that like many relationships, Boston and I did not start off on the right foot. If I’m being completely honest, Boston was a rebound. It was fueled by liquor and sustained by simply going through the motions.

It took a while for me to begin living more intentionally here, but I have truly found connection and inspiration from old friends and new communities. This city has so much more to offer, but I have a feeling I’ll have more to offer in return after this amazing experience. I am ready to be astonished.

“It's the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: Good-bye.” –K.V.

It’s a break… not a break-up,
Sarah

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Dear Boston





It's not you... it's me.

We both know that this has been a long time coming. It's been a great (and sometimes not-so-great) eight years, but I think it's time we go our separate ways.

I know, I know. I've been threatening to leave you for the last three years (especially during the winter of 2010-2011). But this time... this time I mean it.

Don't get me wrong... you're wonderful. During our time together I've discovered my passions and connected with countless incredible people and communities. You've patiently supported me through more than a few personal transformations.

I'm just ready for something different. Something uncomfortable. Something to test me, to challenge the beliefs and the values I've come to accept as my own.

The truth is, without the struggles and triumphs we've gone through together, I'd probably never have the balls to attempt an adventure like this.


I hope we can still be friends.

Love,
Hillary



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Truth

"This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy." - Douglas Adams