We traveled by train to head toward the Nepali border. It was the third train we’d taken on the trip, but by far the best experience.
(Don’t worry. I’ll tell you all about the others very soon.)
For most of this five hour trip, Kelli had been sitting next to me. The train was pretty crowded and we had assigned seats. Eventually, though, more passengers had disembarked than boarded and she moved across the aisle to an empty row. It was one of those things where two rows face each other with a table in between. An Indian man sat across from Kelli and, because she is infinitely outgoing and extroverted, she struck up a conversation.
Kelli is a newlywed and, as it happened, this young man is too. They talked about their recent weddings. They talked about their families, etc.
And then he asked where our group was from. She said, “America.”
(Which, side note: you can only get away with saying that outside of the North and South American continents.)
Anyway, so she told him where we were from and then she took a deep breath and asked, “What do you think of Americans?”
Now, these days, this is a question that can lead to a lot of different answers and not all of them very positive. She held her breath a minute as she waited for his answer.
He looked at her slightly confused and said, “We’re the same.”
She wasn’t sure what to expect, but it really wasn’t that.
It led them to further conversation, but it also led to a conversation later between she and I.
One thing that we saw over and over again in India and Nepal was people being people. Kids acting exactly like American kids. Shop owners acting much like shop owners in the States.
Yeah, circumstances are a little different. People literally live in shanty towns in the middle of the city. Cows walk around like they own the place. Because they kind of do.
But people get up and go to work and go to the market and cook their meals. They have opinions and beliefs and choose their leaders.
We’re the same.
For three weeks, we traveled and met new people and saw amazing places. Whenever people learned where we were from, they were excited. Not one person ever said anything negative to us about being from the States.
Yeah, a few people definitely had questions about Trump. But they were positive. Not judgmental.
It was such a welcome change of pace.
For three weeks, I pretty much avoided social media and news. I got to live in this bubble where people just thought America was pretty great. And then I came home and back to this alternate reality we’re living in and I felt sad. I miss the days when we thought our country was pretty great. When we figured out how to work together sometimes and not always against each other.
I don’t know what, exactly, I’m trying to say here. It’s just that this Independence Day, I find myself thinking about the fact that there are still people that think this country is a good place. I want to make sure that I’m still one of them.