I went camping this weekend. We were a group of ten, from nine countries around the world. India, South Africa, Poland, Spain, Greece, Singapore, Germany, Iran and just to make the host country happy, Australia. :) We labeled the group as 'The UN'.
In my pre-Australia life, I never really thought of "meeting people" as a learning experience. It was always classified as "entertainment". Two years in Australia, I consider myself lucky to be in a country that is so disarmingly multicultural. Whoever thinks of Australia as a racist country should really be in Australia and find out for themselves. The climate and the culture attract a lot of people to this place, including people from European countries. So not every white person is really an Australian.
We were chatting over lunch and breakfast, cooking our own on an electric barbecue. There is a different kind of enlightenment in knowing history of a nation from the person who has been brought up in it. I had tried reading the biography of Nelson Mandela ( Long Walk to Freedom) when I was in India. However, listening to a native from Cape Town talk about his leader was a much more refreshing experience. When he talked about Mahatma Gandhi and how his principles changed the fate of South Africa, I ended up thanking the stars above our heads.
No one really teaches us proper history in schoolbooks. I found this out when I was talking to a Chinese friend and realized that he had a completely different version of the 1962 Indo-China war!
This is just politics and history. I think I should not even try to mention how much of a culinary vocabulary you can build doing these kind of excursions! Plus there is always a lot to talk about and to debate over. Usually, after the first few meetings the differences fall into their own place and the similarities emerge.
No matter where we grow up, what culture we are born in and where we stand in our accomplishments, the basic human feelings are always the same. This has been one of the biggest lessons of my life away from home and the conclusion is very simple- Friendship does not come with a passport!
We are all incomplete and so is the Universe. The things we do, our fates and the people we meet in the course of our journey complete us. In everything we do to complete ourselves we are unknowingly completing the Universe too. Although both these seem like a latent and futile aim, it does make the world a better place after all!