My pet travel project, Global-Graffiti, is a place where people of the world share their thoughts, opinions and voices on a white board, and it gives me a reason to climb out of the normal travel bubble, interact with new people and learn a lot, lot, lot.
When first traveling I was bowled over by the reputation of the United States and it’s citizens in the world, so the question “What do you think of the United States?” was the first thing I asked.
ALL countries and governments have a healthy set of critics and the U.S.A, being such a world power, is in the forefront of receiving pop-shots. After having gathered hundreds of responses and being mostly depressed by them, I move on having learned this one very important thing…
U.S.A, what we do matters to the people of the world. We are watched, thought about and discussed by everyone, because what we do affects them in big ways. Let us be aware of this.
But now, while I continue with this question, the Global-Graffiti questions are also ones that make me smile or think or inspire me…
“What makes you happy?”
“What do you consider an injustice?”
“What is good advice to the world?”
There are problems though.
Like, women here in India don’t want their pictures taken so I have mostly men in my pictures. Or, even asking a simple question like “what makes you happy?” can take minutes and minutes of discussion before an answer is delivered. So, a more complex question like “what do you consider an injustice?” can take years of discussion and changing of the mind before an answer appears, and then it may be something like.. “The city of Delhi is unjust”, and then I have to ask and re-ask to clarify, and …. yeah. That one’s going to be a slow. But if I can get it done, it may be cool.
When I ask for “Good Advice”, people in India then ask me “why do you want to know?” When I tell them “It’s to share your good message with the world”, they then ask “why does the world want to know my message?” Add this dubiousness to the fact that women don’t want to answer in the first place and translators won’t ask lower casts because the lower casts “won’t know” or “won’t have any answers”…yeah. In India I do the best I can.
Even when speaking with fellow travelers from the world over who seem to have a grasp of the English language, it’s only after we’ve had the conversation about who we are and where we are from, where we have been and where we are going, that I present my other questions and wade into a vast and murky pool of misunderstanding because the questions I am asking haven’t been covered in English 101. So, I look around for a translator, but a Chinese, Korean, French or Spanish translator just ain’t happenin in India.
All that said, I still get some neat stuff.
And, there are joyful surprises, like this impromptu English lesson with a group of kids from a colony of the very lowest cast. In this colony, 80% of the men have died because of alcohol poisoning by drinking the local liquor.
When I asked them to “share a good message to the world”, I was surprised. They collectively wanted me to tell you…
But that is another story. Until then, please go look at the new pages and tell me what you think, Global-Graffiti.com
Love to you all