“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”
I read this quote in my teens, but never bothered to ponder. Fifteen years ago, on the 25th of February 2000, I set out on a distinct journey with my caring husband to the United States; ‘the land of opportunity’.
My excitement ceased as all things seemed novel in the new land; got overwhelmed with unfamiliar people, culture, weather, food, above all the “American accent”. I was homesick, missed my loved ones and the food. Trying to preserve my culture, I went in search of lock, stock and barrel that is Indian; made my husband drive half an hour to the remote Indian stores in Austin, Texas. We were converting into those primitive food gatherers; I was gathering and storing Indian food and grocery items at home. I even asked someone visiting India to bring my favorite “Indian snacks”(why did I not feel like munching all those scrumptious double chocolate chip American cookies?), chased after Indian friends, and yapped endlessly over the phone about our food. What a relief it felt to converse in my own language and I craved for everything that reminded me of home. Never realized that in this process, I was trying to be secure by encircling myself with everything familiar in the distinct surroundings I was in.
Life became glorious again, but turned mundane and monotonous; there was an intense drive to seek and soak up unknown things which felt like an unquenchable thirst for different culture, people, food, region, etc. The eye-popping truth was everything around informed me something unique. It was a nirvanic learning moment; we could learn by listening and observing! Before long I got connected with persons from various countries, inquired about their food, culture, language and in this learning process I felt marvelous. Every person I met was a brand-new book; each one gave out an unusual anecdote to imbibe and ponder the quote I read several years ago, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read one page”; I was reading several pages and set out on an unfamiliar mission to learn and make the world my classroom.
My enthusiasm and curiosity had no boundaries when we moved to Canada. I was at ease in making new friends, did not look for anything “Indian”. My joy knew no bounds whenever I cooked something “non-Indian” at home. In ten years, I was raising four children, homeschooling, teaching them life skills, integrity, self-reliance and independence. We were in our comfort zone, living comfortably in North America and considered the rest of the world, “other world”.
Life took a twist when my husband was offered a job posting in Astana, Kazakhstan; where in the world was this?!?! I scanned the world map, read about the country, discovered that people ate horse meat and wondered how horse milk would taste like! Initial reaction was to deny, but decided to get out of the comfort zone as I remembered the quote, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. We resolved to move out of North America to a new land; the Netherlands!
On May 3, 2010 we set our foot in the “other world”. I felt skeptical about everything in the new land, Holland; tiny parking lots, oodles of cyclists, mothers happily commuting with kids on their cycles and open markets. Reminiscing the moments when I missed everything Indian in US, while in Holland missed everything North American; missed the junk food, commercialism and the notorious Black Friday.
UNICEF has ranked the Netherlands best country in the world to grow up in. Dutch children are happier and healthier than anywhere else in the world; they were the least likely to be overweight, ate healthy breakfasts, enjoyed better relationships with their parents and peers than in any other country. It did not take too long for us to integrate into the Dutch culture; we were visiting farmers market, looking for fresh fruits and vegetables, buying fresh ingredients to cook wholesome meals to lead a healthy and active lifestyle which reflects in our blog, Planet Eat-in!
We have been exploring faraway lands, mingling with local residents, trying unusual things, learning new languages and culture.
In four years, I saw my children flourish with my adapted “Dutch style carefree” parenting, which transformed me to a gentle, pleasing mom who would let her children make mistakes and learn. Our goal is to raise sensible global citizens with integrity, solid values, good principles, resilience, above all tolerance to untrodden surroundings and culture. They learn life skills by traveling without following any curriculum.
We belong to the world; we identify ourselves as global citizens, our lifestyle reflects our worldliness. How do you identify yourself? Can we make this world a better place to live in? How? Welcome to our blog where we will walk you through our mission of using the world as our classroom.
Enjoy reading the blog Planet Eat-in while we learn together!
Thank you very much.