travel

India: Discovering Beauty in Differences and Similarities

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If you had to whittle down all of your happy moments from 2010 into your favorite 2010 Kodak Moment, what would it be? What picture would depict it? Who would be with you? And what emotions would be on your face?

My favorite Kodak Moment from 2010 would be my trip to India.

Going to India was my life dream and the trip proved to be made up of stark contrasts: Palatial homes and spas next to tents pitched on the roadside with barely enough shelter to sustain a family. Bland bread next to spicy, tangy sauces and dishes. The flat, highly populated city of Delhi with the lush, mountainous region of the Himalayas.

The differences within India alone are astounding. To focus on the differences between India and North America would be too many to count. What's noticeable are things like the lack of public restrooms, how Indians (at least in the regions we've visited) nod their heads, how the people drive, the architecture, the handiwork, that they drive on the other side of the street, their religious customs, and the spices that add flavor to their meals.

When taking in the differences, my goal for the trip was to learn from them, see how they would change me, and how I could walk away with greater understanding, or at a minimum, appreciation.

While the differences are beautiful and truly breathtaking at times, I also relish in our similarities.

What North America and India share in common are those basic foundational pieces—wonderful people with a sense of and value on family, love, peace, faith, hope, survival, happiness, laughter, endurance, patience. While our experiences and traditions differ, those things remain the same. A woman in India may have to endure walking 3 hours to find the source of the cleanest water supply near her village, gather that water and walk 3 hours back, carrying it on her head. Through that process, she may learn endurance and patience. She may also be performing this task for myriad other reasons—as a way to survive, as a way to show love to her family, as a role she plays by being an Indian woman who happens to live in a remote village.

While the task of providing the water seems a heavy burden, literally, to bear, my tasks in my corner of the world, while vastly different, yield me equal opportunities to build endurance, patience, and show love for my family.

I think sometimes as foreigners, we get in the mode of comparing and contrasting so much that we compartmentalize ourselves. Really, we are one people living in different parts of the world, experiencing different things, living different lives, but bound together so tightly with our foundational similarities that we all relate. If we could all remember that and look past the glaring differences we sometimes can't get past as a people in general, I think the world would be a happier place.

What is your favorite Kodak Moment from 2010?

Win a $75 gift certificate to Kodak Gallery for a photo book to capture all of your favorite Kodak Moments.

Disclosure: Kodak showed me some green for this post, but the Kodak Moments are all mine!
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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.

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