The Moroccan Voyage


It’s been two months since I blogged  here, but they’ve been good months. And so, for readers of my blog (if any still linger!), here’s my WordPress Daily Post on Voyage:

I was in Morocco in the months of May-June as part of a Study Abroad course. Travelling through a new country can be quite an experience. Morocco was not a place I had ever imagined myself going to but when I saw the opportunity, I thought- well, this isn’t a place I would have thought of visiting otherwise but here’s an opportunity to do so that I did not foresee! So I took it.

And I was rewarded. I went in with very little expectations because I hadn’t spent all that much time preparing myself mentally. Of course, some things only hit you in hindsight- for example, the fact that travelling to multiple countries in a short span of time can be daunting and disorienting, reverse culture shock is a thing, in a short amount of time traveling can fill your cup to the brim with a sense of fulfillment that little else does and leave a void which you will struggle with once you resume normal day-to-day activities, talking to people who did not share your travel stories can feel uncomfortable and not as pleasant as you would expect before you took off, and once you start embracing all of it- your soul will absorb these experiences until they are a part of who you are.

And that is why an extended stay in another country is a voyage- a voyage in which you discover another culture and learn to accept it, but more importantly, a voyage in which you discover yourself- a task that is much harder than you would anticipate!

Morocco taught me a number of things about itself. And I have shared a lot of them through posts on Instagram and through blogs I wrote elsewhere that you can read here. But Morocco also taught me a lot of things about myself.

  1. It taught me to not take culture for granted: As an Indian, there are many things I have always resented about India. Part of the reason for this is because I have had a hard time fitting in, although that in itself is a discussion for another day.
    From as far back as I can remember, I have wanted to go and experience other places of the world. When I was younger, the reasons for doing so were personal. But with time and the direction my education has taken, the reasons have become more evolved and nuanced- for me, the feeling of being a global citizen is important.

    For good or for bad, I never felt like I had a local identity as an Indian. And in a country that is so diverse, that is one of the things that has always stayed with me. I have moved so much within India and made friends from all four corners of it and that did for me on a mini scale, what Morocco did on a much more macro one. Having seen a thin slice of the world, I have enlarged my national identity to fit that of the world.

    And don’t get me wrong- in no way can you take a global identity for granted. It isn’t something you feel inside you all the time. Sometimes, you have to belong to places, to moments, to people, to cultures. In a world where the concept of identity is so layered for most people but still centers around specific points in time and space, I have no option but to be the same in some ways. So, as an Indian, I will always return to India, whether or not I choose to do so.
    But as I find myself  wanting to know more than just one culture and more than just one national identity not by embracing them as fully as I ever could embrace being an Indian, but by understanding, listening, accepting and empathizing with them

    As a result, I have also started realizing that there is so much that I have taken for granted about being in India. Coming back to India after a year abroad has made me see the country in a different lens and rediscover its stories from a new perspective. It kind of feels like spending your entire life looking at a zoomed in version of the world, then suddenly zooming out into the world and then zooming back in to India.

  2. It taught me to embrace differences: While I have been taught over the years to be respectful and tolerant towards others by family and school, I would give a large part of the credit for teaching me tolerance to all the reading and writing I have done. But it was truly travelling, and especially travelling to Morocco that reminded me that I really must respect and embrace people who are different from me.
    It isn’t easy of course, no matter what we say, to continually interact with those who see the world differently. But at the end of the day, it helps to remember that each individual human being is shaped the way they are because of a combination of their genes and their environment, and that their unique stories make them who they are. And remembering this helps in embracing the differences.
  3. It taught me how much I care: Over the past year, as I have begun to redefine the purposes of my life, I have started to come to terms with the fact that I have a worldview that is just one way of looking at the world. This is true of everyone- there are no rights and wrongs, only what we think is in our head.
    And I’ve realized that I care about suffering in the world. And I have accepted that while this may be a very patronizing way to think about those who suffer, I want to try to do something to reduce the suffering. I can contribute best by doing the things that I am best in, of course, and that is what I intend to do.
    Morocco taught me this because I met people in Morocco who had very little but with the smiles on their faces, the hugs they exchanged and the love they had to give, they touched my heart. This experience cannot be shared, it can only be had. But the lessons from such experiences CAN be shared, and that is what I hope to do.
  4. It taught me that I need to write:  I have never given up writing, even though I have been doing lesser and lesser of it on this blog. I learnt years ago that writing is something that will always stay with me in some way, shape or form, and it has but the ways in which I write keep shifting.
    Before leaving for Morocco, I tried to read up about some things and found that there was absolutely no information available about it in the context of the country, at least in English. I decided then that I will come back and fill the gaps that I can and I intend to do so.
    The reason I can’t seem to stop gushing about Morocco is not because I want to be that annoying friend who keeps popping up on your social media with multiple posts about the same thing, but because I want to add to that wealth of information that is online.
    I was in a nearly-deserted ghost town in Morocco when it struck me- if we had done this trip thirty or even twenty years ago, we wouldn’t have generated the massive amount of information we did today. In the age of information, we are adding a host of stories about Morocco to the treasure trove of knowledge online- and that is okay because perhaps our stories will provide information to those who need it in the future.
  5. It taught me what fun is and how to make friends again: This is an area I constantly need help in because I am generally so absorbed in my own world of books and Netflix, that I forget to do both these things. But spending 24 days with a group of 15 (I think!) people and very little internet accessibility can change that- and I am glad it did, because the group I travelled with had an amazing treasure trove of stories to share! And we made new ones along the way as well.
  6. It showed me how to integrate what I learn academically with what i see and experience of the world around me: The purpose of a Study Abroad is to learn while experiencing at the same time. And until now, my sustainability experiences had been largely contained to reading the written word. Hence, this was the first time I learnt what it is like to do actual “research” in the real world. It is often messy and confusing to be on the field and follow your theory at the same time but most importantly, I had fun! And that is the biggest take-away for me from the this voyage.

Finally, I will leave you with a few more photographs from Morocco:

IMG_20160526_162734
Ait Benhaddou

 

IMG_20160518_081837

Jemaa el-Fnaa, Marrakech in the morning- a square that lights up with life and colors and snake charmers and monkey tamers and a very busy market at night.

IMG_20160514_090215
The Strait of Gibraltar

 

More later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “The Moroccan Voyage

  1. Exactly…There are no good and bad or right and wrong… It depends on the lens we put on..our perspective…it is in the head as you said ..

  2. Hello Blue-loft, your travel experience and lessons are of a great inherent significance for those who are not able to visit such exotic places. Like the reverse culture shock, tolerance and other things. It’s good to see that you are affected by the suffering for the people and want to contribute to ease it by any bit you can manage to. It is quite interesting to see that how this voyage taught you how much you care, Beyond Good and Evil as Nietzsche phrased popularly. But before I take over to my real contention for writing this post, may I suggest something on the lines of how to improve the information that can be useful to others? It would be of more utility if your travel blogs contain more objectivity in contrast to subjectivity in terms of your observations. But I think that would kill all the pleasure of writing about travelling when you have to have more objective observations noted down so that the readers can clearly expect how the walls of the Moroccan dwellings are for instance, rather than, sharing your experiences, as your experience are your subjective truth which other readers might not find so if they ever visited nor would provide useful information so as to what to expect there, which might erode the whole purpose of adding to the information already available.

    The most intriguing part is your ‘Post Travel Blues’, especially that “when you are planning for your travels, you may not think to prepare for the least glamorous part of the trip: returning home” in juxtaposition to this that “a voyage in which you discover yourself- a task that is much harder than you would anticipate.” I find in above two references something larger than the temporal experience of your trip, although it is somewhat metaphysical, that is of life/existence as a whole, being a voyage, from unknown to birth to death to unknown. Scientifically we existed even prior to birth and will continue to exist post death as scattered molecules and so on, but we are not concerned much of our existence so much in comparison to life infused to our existence. Experiences of our living existence has a profound effect on our soul, however if we are what we experience then we are just a smaller part of time where we were alive, refusing the larger part of time where one would continue to exist without life ( as in terms of pure scientific explanations). The identity of I or ego( as Sigmund Freud would say) is confined only to some 100 years of our life ( as a best case scenario), which raises a question in my mind regarding what about the post life blues ( considering eschatological beliefs) ? If we become too attached to this wonderful life (may be even it is for only one time), wouldn’t that create hurdles in returning back to our normal routine (existence without life)? I would really like to know your views regarding this after you have recently had to suffer from travel blues.

    1. Hi! Thank you for your interesting comments- as you have shrewdly pointed out, answering your own question, experiences are subjective in nature and there can be no objective versions of it. That being said, I did mention that Morocco taught me in two ways- it taught me about itself and it taught me about me. I covered the part where it taught me about itself in blogs elsewhere (you can follow the link in the post). This post, the more subjective one, is about what Morocco taught me about myself and hence I have allowed myself the liberty of slipping into a journal-like, reflexive trance, if you will.
      As for the second part of your comment, that really is interesting. We exist beyond this life, at least as molecules, but do we have “memory” then, the way we do now? If our sense of ‘I/myself’ is gone and our experiences scattered with the atoms that constituted our physical being, how can we miss something that we can no longer remember we once had? And that is it, isn’t it- when we die, we erase all memory of our existence along with our being. I don’t think existence without life would be hard because we would no longer exist any more than we would live.

      1. It is true that we would not miss something that we can no longer remember and memory by storing our experience shapes our identity. However, I think, the sense of I/myself has no association with memory per se as people suffering from acute amnesia also possess sense of herself. I believe sense is a part of mind and memory is a part of brain as distinguished from mind. Logically you have really nailed it regarding the post life hurdle problem by the use of the “memory” criteria. But this ignites spark of questions relating to the treatment of that metaphor we know as soul. Being an abstract term for us conceive, soul is attributed the quality of eternity and permanency, and if our identity is defined by our subjective memory which is being absorbed by the soul, don’t we fail to realise the identity of our soul which is more valuable? Adherence to memory isn’t at odds with the recognition of our soul postulated famously as ‘Know Thyself’? Science has failed to help us in matters of soul and other abstract entities therefore they are considered as vague and useless, which is true indeed as there is no utility of understanding soul but value.

        Stretching the matter further, if I may do so by convincing you why memory should not be taken into consideration, firstly memory is interpretation ( famously expressed through the movie Memento) so, any truth realised via memory and experience is interpretation, it is purely subjective ( with a possibility of being at odds with permanent-objective-singular truth) And truth cannot be at odds with truth.

        In addition to that we don’t have any substantial evidences if this empirical world is real or Plato’s famous ‘allegory of the cave’ ( represented in that movie The Matrix) or something else, so by adhering to memory strongly aren’t we being too firm/confident on our stand of empiricism and disregarding any possibility of realising the truth (which I surely still don’t know and which we collectively as humans also haven’t yet discovered if I skeptically say so).

        Also if our identity is a function of memory then there is no need for morals, ethics or goodwill. We are completely free to do anything without any regrets or remorse as it’s all gonna be erased eventually. No burden for the soul, no significance of purity. I would like to know what do you think regarding the characteristics of us being a spiritual being in addition to physical being?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s