My best travel days have lows to go with the highs. In Agra on Holi morning I announced to our travel group I was going to play in the streets, then asked who was joining me. Our guide recommended against this, as one doesn't know what is in the colored powders sold on the street, but the hotel would put something together for us. I looked him in the eye and reiterated "I flew 8000 miles to be in India. I may never be here again, much less for Holi. I'm going to play in the streets. Who's joining me?"
It was an incredible experience. Later that day we visited the Taj, where a young street urchin hit me up for change: in exchange I'd get a dinky keychain Taj Mahal snowglobe. Never mind the anachronism (where highs average 100+ that time of year), we were instructed not to buy beggar's trinkets and who was I to disobey our guides?
I told the boy I had no money (lie). He held out the trinket, pinching the ring between tiny finger and thumb, and said "No money. For free. For friendship."
I nearly cried on the spot. This was the "India moment" our instructor assured us we all would have at least once, when the country's beautiful chaos converges with emotions to overwhelm even the toughest Westerner (which I am certainly not). Then we walked and talked on my way to the bus. I still have that keychain, and it remains one of my few and most prized remaining possessions. I think of my friend anytime I recall the Taj, India, or snowglobes.
Yesterday I woke alone, a gnat in a giant, scary new world. So after lying in bed panicked and miserable, I converted my negative energy into blog words. That helped, and I feel blessed and fortunate for it. Then I went out into the world on the first day of Songkran 2017. On the streets of Bangkok's Si Lom neighborhood I gave a street vendor 30 baht and received a bag of fried dough half the size of my head.
And a text from Girl.
Soon it was water time.
(This could never work in America, by the way--we'd commercialize and monetize it to death, and any remaining shreds of joy would wither under complaints from wet blankets whining of environmental impact.)
I gave as good as I got and walked home hours later, soaked to the bone, sunburned, and exhausted from laughing. I met great people and shared in a new year's celebration of pure fun.