I caught the travel bug at a very young age. When I was two-years-old, I clearly remember sitting on my grandpa’s (dada-ji) lap while we rocked away on his vintage monogrammed chair. As he blew clouds out of his imported cigar, he’d look down at me and say, “The world is very big, let your curiosity take you around it.”
After my grandparents left India and bought a home in the heart of Africa, I was traveling overseas for as long as I could remember. “Reema is not afraid, she was born to be in the sky,” my mother said. Just like that, traveling became second nature to me. It’s an urge I have never thought too much about.
I have walked across the oldest bridge in Poland, I have danced on the green grass beneath the Eiffel Tower, and I have blown bubbles on the streets of Barcelona. Among all of these experiences, I am most thankful for meeting different people and experiencing cultures that shape our world.
The idea of community and being collective is something I have learned from traveling. In Zambia, there is a sense of inseparability that stirs its people. I was taught from an early age to be there for my people no matter what and the Zambian people helped instill that within me. “Pamoja milele,” my grandma said every night before we went to bed; it means together forever in Swahili. I learned that beneath our color and culture, we are all people striving to spread love and unity throughout the world.
There has never been one place I traveled to where people have not welcomed me with open arms. Even if Paris is filled with couture, people want to know more about you than the brand you have on. The people in Barcelona communicate by dancing on the streets; they make you feel welcome and at home. Although I visited Poland when I was only 6-years-old, I can still smell its red poppy flowers blooming in the morning.
If there is one thing traveling taught me to do, it’s to live to spread love. Getting to know people different from ourselves teaches us humility and how to accept differences. In a world filled with material and money, I’ve learned that giving feels more rewarding than taking. Traveling gave me the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and I want to advise others to take advantage of this mysterious world we live in and go question it.
Traveling gave me a perspective on what’s important in life, and for me, it’s not finding a perfect life. Many times, we chase our lives in the most cynical way, and traveling taught me to find bliss and romance from within. Before my grandpa passed away, he looked at my brother and me and said, “Seeing the world is key.” People and cultures around the world are so similar, yet so different from us and I cannot wait to see what my next adventure entails.
What are you waiting for? Book that ticket and go feed your soul.