When the news began spreading that I would be making a huge lifestyle transition and traveling the world, everybody I met drilled me with questions about where I was going. My answer was always the same: I told them that I hadn't yet decided but that I was open to going almost anywhere.
To my surprise, a large number of people began inviting me to stay with their relatives or friends in various countries around the world. When I realized how valuable such invitations would be on my journey, I began making a list. This list now includes places like India, Nepal, Taiwan, Australia, Ireland, Portugal, and South Africa!
The news reached a good friend of the family, Harish Hande, who was born in Bangalore, India and who travels there frequently for work. When he heard of my plans to become a nomadic world traveler, he offered to help me begin my journey by introducing me to some of his friends in Bangalore and giving me a place to stay for a few weeks.
I had originally planned to begin my journey by picking a random destination and finding places to stay using CouchSurfing.org. However, having a guaranteed place to stay and being introduced to trusted friends is a hard opportunity to pass up. Besides, India appealed to me for several reasons.
Nearly 25 years ago, as a 3 year old boy, I visited northern India with my parents. Since then, I haven't been to any other country (besides Canada, which all natural born citizens of the United States know doesn't count). Returning to the place that I visited as a child feels somewhat like a rebirth; like I’m continuing where I left off; like I'm getting off a detour and returning to the original path.
Even my name, Raam Dev, is of Indian origin and, despite the fact that my blood is almost as white as it could get, I grew up with traditions very similar to those of the Indian culture: We ate and slept on the floor, our home had no furniture and no television, we were strict vegetarian (no meat, fish, or poultry), and we meditated and chanted mantras daily.
So, of all the different cultures around the world, the Indian culture will probably be the easiest for me adjust to. I certainly plan to submerge myself in other, less familiar cultures, but India seems like a great place to begin my journey.
I'm sure much of what I think I know about India is wrong or misconstrued, but that's why I'm going there with an open mind. I'm not going there with a know-it-all mentality but rather with the expectation that I will learn and experience more than I am even capable of comprehending at this moment.