The Camino De Santiago: The Journey Begins

Where does any journey begin? The beginning is such an elusive word…is the beginning the moment an idea came into being. Or, is it the series of events that led to an idea. Or, is it the series of unforeseen and seen conditions that lead to the events.

In telling any story, I believe we reduce an experience, which contains all of our thoughts, senses and environment to words, which rarely do it justice.
Nonetheless, I will try…

I suppose this story may have began…when I was in Vancouver taking a father-son road trip and stumbled upon the movie “The Way.” I did not know what it was but I liked the cover, so I took a picture of it.

Or, perhaps when I was visiting a close high school friends place and her Mom and her brother were going on the Camino.

Or, perhaps when the top Netflix recommended movie to me was “The Way” — a coming of age story about the Camino.

Camino De Santiago

Or, how the following day I received an email from ServiceSpace regarding a Forrest Call, a weekly inspiring conference call, about two individuals that walked the Camino.

Or, the following day I was looking for a book to read in my fathers bookshelf and the book that caught my eye was the “The Pilgrim” by Paula Choelo (a true story about about the authors journey).

No, the trip began when I visited my friend’s mom who had just walked and she cried when she spoke of the significance of the journey she took.

At the end of the day, something told me — after the past 6 months of exploration, growth and learning — that I must walk the 900 km from St. Jean de Porte to Finesterra (“the end of earth”).

And, perhaps by the end of this path, I will have a better understanding of why I am here…my story of walking the Camino de Santiago.

Best of Istanbul Turkey

I had the opportunity to spend a couple days in the beautiful city of Istanbul, Turkey with my Mom. Not only was it wonderful place to travel with my Mom, the culture, the people, and the experiences were amazing. Some useful highlights:

1. Where to stay? Tan Hotel: This hotel was gorgeous, simple, quaint and had great service. Aside from enjoying a small business, it had spectacular views of the Blue Mosque from its breakfast area on the roof!

2. What to do? 

  • Cağaloğlu Hamami (or, Turkish Bath): According to the sign in from of the this turkish bath it is one of the 1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die, so I figured it had to be done. When you first enter, you can see the age and history behind one of Instanbul’s oldest baths. Men and women bath areas are separate and the service is classically Turkish: simple and good service with a smile. An old man scrubbed every knock-and-cranny on me…and I was probably the cleanest I had been in all my life.
  • Visit During Ramadan: The Blue Mosque, the cistern and the Topikapa palace were all amazing, but, the best part of Istanbul was visiting during Ramandan. Every evening at 5PM, we were able to enjoy the food, culture and people in the evenings.

2. Where to eat if you are vegetarian?  

  • Dubb Indian Restaurant: As a vegetarians, I noticed that all of the food was very similar for vegetarians: vegetable kabobs, yogurt and rice. This Indian restaurant was our salvation: the Indian food was better than most Indian restaurants in NYC and the service was quick and simple.

 

Day 10: Delhi – Leave Indira Gandhi Airport/Arrive in JFK — Parting Thoughts

Sunday, my last day in Delhi was low-key. I had lunch with my family-friends who arranged for me to be treated like a king in Agra.

During lunch we chatted about Red Fort Syndrome/Phenomenon (as my family-friends have begun to refer to the concept amongst friends). Despite how Indian television shows may portray the connected nature of Indian families (i.e. Everyone knows everyones business), seemingly all the changes is forcing individuals to attempt to maintain the pace by working longer hours, traveling more, and being more connected via Blackberrys and laptops.  The result is that families are becoming far more focused on their nuclear families, rather than on the community of families, friends and neighbors.

Indians are known for having chai and snacks with family-friends all the time, but now these events are diminishing. Despite all the leaps in modern conveniences — expressways, Blackberrys, EVDO cards, etc. – that should make connecting with people easier, people are too busy to actually enjoy the increased conveniences.

I have been really lucky to do a fair bit of traveling the past couple years. And, I realize that I am most jealous of the community aspect that so many countries still have. Despite what my family-friends have said about the Red Fort Phenomenon, India still seems very community-based and driven – where people actually know their neighbors.

I recall when our new neighbors were moving in NJ, and my Mom went to welcome them – they quickly went into her house and closed the door. We have tried multiple times and despite the fact that we live 20 feet away, we have no idea what their names are or anything about them.

Three years later, I think we have to simply presume they are afraid of us…

Looking back on the past couple years of the many neighbors I have had, I can barely recall any of their names or anything about them.

I really liked a quote that my neighbor from NJ that is living in Delhi had on her wall:

The Paradox of Our Age — His Holiness the 14th Dalia Lama

We have bigger houses but smaller families;

More conveniences, but less time;

We have more degrees, but less sense;

More knowledge, but less judgment;

More experts but more problems;

More medicines, but less healthiness

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back

But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.

We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever,

But have less communication;

We have become long on quantity,

But short on quality.

These are times of fast foods,

But slow digestion;

Tall man but short character;

Steep profits but shallow relationships.

It’s a time when there is much in the window

But nothing in the room.

I left Delhi around 10PM last Sunday. I was really sad to go: I had an amazing time, in such a short amount of time. I got to meet a friend right before I left on Sunday, she said there has to be a reason you came here all of a sudden. Looking back at how perfectly everything worked out, perhaps there is. I am hoping I will be back very soon.

Right before I got in the car to head for the airport, my Aunt gave me a glass of water to take a quick sip of. Whenever I have gone on long journeys my Mom or Aunts in the states have done the same thing. I believe it’s a way of giving good luck for a safe journey. The small cultural innuendo was comforting, it made me feel at home.

I arrived in the US by 7:30AM on Monday morning, got to my apartment by 8AM, and got to work by 9:30AM — it’s been a busy week. Thanks for listening.