What am I going to leave behind? My first answer to this question would be nothing. I am not going anywhere special; it is only 3 weeks and I will be back to normal. Leaving behind things sounds like such a huge decision, and being on a plane at 11 p.m. close to passing out from tiredness is not a state in which big decisions should be made. This attitude, however, will probably not lead to a successful learning experience because such a sudden change of context requires me to change as well. I do not want to be one of those nasty privileged Western tourists who only look at the world through the standards they maintain at home, for whom the food and the places are never good enough to be satisfied during their travel. I admit that these might be silly stereotypes based on movies I have seen, but it is still something I should try to avoid.
So how shall I attain that goal? I think I should first of all try to rid myself of the social and cultural perspectives that I have been equipped through my upbringing. I will try to treat this trip as if I was going to Mars to meet the aliens. If you have ever imagined meeting aliens, you probably did not try to measure them up against what is going on at your Western home. Instead, you would think about them only in their own context without comparison to yourself. The aliens would be held only against themselves only. You would approach them with respect, curiosity, and with a stubborn will to learn and find out more. Probably just as everybody, I make instantaneous judgements when encountering something new and unknown. These judgments are necessarily made through my perspective that was shaped by my own culture. Thus, if I will want to fully engage while being in India, I will have to consciously and rationally suppress how I have been interpreting the world so far. I have to start a new folder in my brain and build it up with brand new files that are undistorted and authentic. Then, when I will get home, I will be able to measure my new and my original files up against each other, and make conclusions for myself and, after all, learn something really important.