Many of us have been infected with this contagious and incurable malady, however, none so seriously as patient zero himself, Shounak Bagchi, for whose travel blog I have been asked to guest pen a passage. To give you an idea, I’d like to touch on the two most recent international excursions I’ve made with Shounak: Costa Rica ’11 and Malaysia ’13.
Our decision to visit Costa Rica over a year ago was based largely on recommendations of friends and family who had vacationed in this Central American gem in the past. Despite little formal Spanish training and even less preparedness for the perilous road conditions, we successfully navigated all the way from the turtle nest-covered white sand beaches to the cloudy tarantula infested high points of the continental divide. Each location in between exposed us to new cuisine, new people, and new perspectives on what it means to be alive and internationally mobile in the 21st century.
Our current excursion in Malaysia has already offered further opportunities for Shounak and me to explore our role in the world and develop an altered perspective on the human experience. I now understand why Malaysia is one of the fastest growing and most culturally diverse countries in the world. Everything I see around me in Malaysia strikes me as indicative on the future for the rest of the planet and redeems my hope that, despite the depth of our differences, humans can live together and prosper.
You may not agree that our planet’s headed toward a future where Chinese, Hindu, Malay, and English are spoken in tandem, where trains and subways have “Female Only” cars to support a Muslim belief system, and the Backstreet Boys headline the post Formula-1 Grand Prix celebration. However, if you come to Malaysia, you may also be convinced that the people here have found a unique and beautiful way of living which the rest of the world may do well to study.
Just as the diversity of Malaysia has led to a unique and wonderful middle road, the differences and uniqueness of Shounak and my personalities have converged on a solid and consistently interesting friendship. Each time we travel together, we find new ways to expand and re-define our friendship against a backdrop entirely different from our everyday existence. Without these opportunities, how else would we challenge ourselves and one-another to grow and re-think our position in the world?
If you’ve been lucky enough to travel with Shounak, you know he understands the importance of a change of venue and you’ve seen the development he’s undertaken through studying different walks of life all over the world. I am blessed an honored to have Shounak as a friend and travel partner and have very much enjoyed seeing his growth and development first-hand as we traverse the globe, trying in vain to cure our travel fever.
Thank you all and see you on the road!