There are things you can prepare yourself for and there things you won’t be able to prepare for. How much you will read, how many photographs you will see, how many stories you’ve been told. Sometimes none of those things will show you the truth.

Since Vietnam I’m reading the book ‘Shantaram’ as an preparation for India and after all those months of reading the stories of Lin, I thought I was prepared. A few days ago I met this amazing country for the first time and from the moment I stepped outside the airport I knew: you cannot know a country as India by reading a book. Although we’ve been to countries like Mongolia, China and even Iran, India is like every place I ever been, every smell I ever smelt, every saturated color I ever seen, every taste I ever tasted and every pressure I ever managed to suppress, times ten. And still, if you read this and never been to India you won’t be able to know how it really is.

We walked the streets in Kolkata finding ourselves exhausted by the things we saw. For two days it sucked the energy out of our bodies, out of our minds. The hot and humid weather wasn’t helping either. But we managed to get through. We lived it and we loved it, for now. We left the country in a hurry to be on time in Nepal to hook up with my brother. For those two days we got an sneak preview. Just a peak to make us want more, to get back there.

First, Nepal. A smaller, slightly quieter country. A good place to get to know the Hindu culture and to get into the habits. Maybe it will be a preparation, or maybe just some great experience.

– I think I know what India is all about, I think..
Rik

Conversations help figure it all out and give me more thoughts to think about. But sometimes I bleach my thoughts. I cannot help it, sometimes I just need to reset my brain. You know, like when your computer is a mess. You cannot find anything were it supposed to be? Just like that.

Like on this journey, I do and see so many things. I just can’t place them in the right order. Pieces of months ago fall in place, now. The things I loved seem to hide the most, just like the things which impressed me the most. But now the bad things start to fade away and only the things that matter are a bright light in my mind.

A second chance is the best way to give a country another try. Never going back is no option for no country. Things you don’t like are possibly always able to be turned in something positive. For example; Thailand. My first impression was horrible. A party place for young westerners who come to abuse a country so bad were only the people who live there treat it worse. I hated it.
Now I come to realize, on our second visit, that my thoughts and judges were false and selfish. How can I have such a strong opinion about a place I only spend two weeks, who am I to judge the people who try to make money in a country which is still poorer than most think.
Even Bangkok I started to like. I started to like it when it showed me its secrets. When we went up the Baiyoke tower it showed me remorse. It was like Bangkok looked me in my eyes and said ‘this is who I am’. I gaze back in deep dark alleys of his heart an told him that I understood him.

In the elevator down I decided to reset the Thailand part of my brain. I threw out the things I did not need and keep the beautiful memories. And from there on, start again from scratch.

– Everything deserves a second chance.
Rik