As I readjust to the U.S. time zone and get back to my regular routines, let me reflect one last time on my whirlwind Asia tour over the last six weeks...
It was actually quite beautiful that my tour came to a close in India. Once I got used to the tremendous monsoon rain, the high traffic congestion and the enormous bustling population as my backdrop, I started to really enjoy interacting with the local people and maneuvering around the local place. Okay, maybe I didn't "enjoy" maneuvering around the physical environment in a wheelchair so much... However, Mumbai is such a historical place and its people give me so much hope, joy, and eagerness for humanity.
This reminder starts with the Rajabai Clock Tower located in the South of Mumbai. A local employee at my hostel told me the Rajabai Clock Tower is named after a woman who is blind. This woman was the mother of none other than the founder of the Bombay Stock Exchange, Premchand Roychand. Roychand's mother abide by the Jain religion (which teaches non-violence towards all creatures) and needed to eat dinner before the arrival of evening each day. Therefore, the conditions for donating to the clock tower was that it had to be named after his mother, Rajabai. Locals say this clock tower was built so that Roychand's mother can tell what time of the day it is without having to ask somebody.
Another beautiful tidbit I want to share with you is the new friends I made at the airport and the kindness I received there. When you travel to multiple countries, you often have weird amounts of this currency and that currency in your pocket. Anyways, since I was departing for the U.S., I didn't need these foreign currencies anymore. I went to the Currency Exchange booth at the Mumbai airport to exchange my Singaporean dollars. The people at the counter didn't let me exchange it because it was such a small amount and the fee would eat up most of the profit. One of the employees in the suitcase store next door heard my inquiry and knew my dilemma. Lo and behold, he offers to give me his rupees for my four Singaporean dollars. Apparently his parents loves to collect foreign currencies. I ended up giving him the coins I accumulated from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan as well.
I know there are kind and helpful people everywhere in the world, but India seems to have an exceptionally high number of them. For instance, later when I was checking in for my flight, the people in line warmly and cheerfully urged me to go in front of them. It would be much too long of a post for me to recount all of the kindness, helpful gestures, and genuine altruism I've seen in India, but I do urge you to come experience it for yourself. What you hear in the media, from secondhand stories, and your own fearful secondhand impressions may not be as accurate as you think. I sure am glad I got over my trepidation and took the plunge into India, a land of amazing chai tea and a group of people that truly understands and invests in the value of family.