By Elias Gruner
Despite all the adventures we went through as a group I wanted to talk about something else. Something only I perceived. My personal experience.
I started to undergo my own adventures when we were in a remote village on Havelock, an island in the Andamans. We came there to see how a village without tourism, or rather a traditional village, lives. After meeting a young girl who attends the local school we were invited for lunch by a family Mr. Alter met during his search for fishing spot years before. I helped prepare our lunch. Gladly, it was a very easy meal to prepare. In fact, it was “Maggi” noodles – the Indian equivalent of Ramen. Despite all the simplicity I still made a few mistakes. After I wasn’t needed anymore I discovered a few chilies laying around. I easily persuaded Kam to try one with me so it was only up to the woman who owned the chilies whether we were going to do it. She agreed and soon after Kam and I sat in a corner trying to fight the spiciness – a fight that was harder than any other task I confronted in my life. There was nothing to fight back with except time. It was the worst feeling I ever had especially because you experience the spiciness twice. First when it comes in and again once it goes out.
After I recovered, my real exploration began. A little kid from the village took my hand and started dragging me away from the others. Without him nor me saying anything, I knew that he wanted to show me something. We started walking up the path where we came from and then we took a turn into the for me unknown right. Behind a row of bushes and trees, there was a house. I asked him, with hand gestures, if this was his house and thereupon he went inside and introduced me to his grandmother. Hence I figured it was his grandmother’s house. He then showed me his dogs, Tolly and Morti, who were not keen to meet me and decided to run away. Their attempt failed because they were chained to a pole between them. When I saw those two little dogs whining and trying to escape my presence with failure I felt bad and asked the kid what was behind his grandmother’s house. We then walked into a little forest where he showed me how pineapple’s, bananas and coconuts grew. We then followed a small path through the forest leading to the school. It took him two minutes to explain in words that his brother was attending this school. Soon after we walked down another small path and he started to collect leaves from several bushes. He then reached out his hand full of leaves to me. I supposed he wanted me to eat them so I did. All the leaves mixed in my mouth created this incredible flavor which I never tasted before but certainly want to taste again. We walked further and reached a clearing surrounded by palm trees. On this glade, dozens of white, blue, red and yellow birds, water buffalos, monkeys and goats were friendly sharing one space. We continued our tour and approached a pond so dirty that I thought it was their sewage. To my surprise this kid showed me that he and his friends are usually swimming in there. We kept going and he showed me a beautiful big red flower. Next to the flower where small berries. I asked if I could eat them and he laughed at me. He took them started walking until he saw a dried out bush and threw the berries in there. He showed me that now a new beautiful bush will replace the old dead bush. Subsequently he gave me a few berries and told me to do what he did whenever I saw a dead bush. We then returned to our group.
This was the first time I saw something through the eyes of someone else. I saw the village through the eyes of a local, curious and wise kid instead through the eyes of a tourist. It opened up a door in my head which led me to think that everything has more sides to look at then just the one that is in front of you.
Furthermore, watching this kid wandering through his village on his own schedule made me think if he ever checks the time. During the whole journey, I thought about what time it was and when I needed to be back (mostly because nobody knew that I was going on an adventure with this local kid). The child instead seemed to not even care. It seemed like he had all the time in the world and nothing worried him.
Apropos time, time is an infinite and unstoppable unit. In my opinion, it’s the strongest element of all. It continues no matter what. Tick, Tack, Tick, Tack. And another few seconds past. I was awful sick for four days. I could have just stayed in my bed and hoped for better but instead I hiked to the beaches and snorkeled with my friends. Pana’s cousin died and he told me: “Life moves on”. You can either hide yourselves behind excuses or actually use or time. India made me consider time in so many new ways.
The second time I gained from the perspective of someone else was when we returned from our 3 day hike and Pana, our 21 year old local friend and guide. He invited me to shower at his house. He showed me his unfinished and chaotic house and then offered me a chair to sit in. After filling up a bucket with water he took out a tangle of cables with a spiral at the end. He explained to me that this is used to boil the water so that we have a warm shower. While waiting for our water to get warm I asked him if he sometimes looks at the mountains in front of him and just goes: Wow!, or if it became totally normal after spending his whole life with this view. Here is his response: “While you come here in order to see the village and the mountains through my eyes, I try to see them through your eyes. I want to understand why you enjoy them so much. I think it’s because they are new to you and new things attract people. But maybe it’s about understanding the nature and find new things through knowledge. [Pana points at the waterfall on the opposite side of the mountain] If I learn more about this waterfall, perhaps it will amaze me more.” Exchanging ideas with real people lets us all consider things differently. For me, it did in fact make the world more amazing.
This conversation gave me a whole new insight to this village and its inhabitants.
The point I am trying to make by telling you these stories is that everything has a different perspective. It’s up to you which one you choose and live by. Sometimes you may not need to change the world around you but rather yourself in order to achieve something, something like happiness. The first step of real, lifelong change is to alter oneself. Only then you can impact your sourroundings.