Simon Taylor : The Road None Travel
With the relatively low cost of international travel, many of us get to dip into foreign worlds to experience their delicate foods, stunning landscapes and interesting lifestyles. Usually from behind the safety of our hotel window, but hey, it still counts.
In my travels I do try to immerse myself in a new culture when I get the chance. It's not always so easy to take on the local customs though. Recently I went to Singapore to perform my show, where I headed out afterwards to get in on the local nightlife. When I walked into a club I saw 50 year-old white men with 20 year-old Asian girlfriends. At the time I thought: 'Wow, I'm 22. If I want to fit in I have to find a girl who is -8…'
Yet the closest I've come to complete cultural submersion would have to be my trip to rural India. My friend and I were travelling though central India, the village areas, in an attempt to escape any traces of Western influence and experience the true heart of the country. This proved to be difficult as even in the smaller country areas they had electricity, foreign cars and many people wore jeans and the latest in fake Nike fashion.
One day, we left a busy little town and where driven into the mountainous countryside away from civilization. After seven hours of nearly being killed every time our driver overtook a logging truck, we reached the end of the drivable dirt road. From here we walked along a dirt track for what felt like an eternity, until that too ended and we were left to venture through forest area. Hours later, the trees finally opened up to tiny village area where no more than a dozen self-sufficient farmers lived.
This was it. This was real heart of India. No roads, no paths, no electricity for hours and hours. Each little hut had been hand made from mud. The villagers had never seen white skin before. I was excited and enthralled by our discovery of this hidden time capsule of humanity, not yet breached by the modern world.
We were taken inside a mud house, sat on a mat that had been woven from local grass, given a hand-made clay pot full of rice they had grown themselves. The woman of the house, dressed in her basic cloth, gestured if we would like a drink. We nodded as she went outside, only to return moments later holding… a bottle of Sprite. Yep, a bloody bottle of Sprite.
So what I learned about the world that day is that thanks to globalization, American consumerism and the sweet taste of bubbly sugar drinks, I guess our cultures aren't all that different after all.