Last night I saw Slumdog Millionaire, one of the best movies I've seen (if not the best). It spawned so much reflection on my part -- for me, the true test of a good movie -- but don't worry, I won't spill any themes related to the plot.
Here's a snapshot of the "safe" topics I started noodling over during the drive home:
1) what drives my passion for travel
2) when might I be ready to tackle India (uh, not soon)
3) how lucky I am to choose my adventures and then retreat to a safe, comfortable life
I thrive on traveling throughout the States and abroad because doing so offers perspective...an awareness of how my slice of life stacks up to my American peers and the rest of the world.
For example, when I went to Bangkok, I loved being able to compare its chaotic traffic to that of NYC and Rome because I had experienced each city personally. And, it was a blessing to appreciate the rarity of finding a megatroplis, jungle and temples thousands of years old within a three-hour drive span of central Bangkok.
Many Americans regard NYC as our champion city, our largest metropolis with a population hovering around 8.3 million (what's not to love?). But, we'd be remiss to acknowledge that its chaos sometimes pales to the rest of the world. For example, Mumbai boasts the largest urban population in the world at 13.7 million. I cannot imagine what it's like to navigate a city with that many people and that frantic of a pace...it's completely intimidating.
Plus, the poverty level I've read about is so unsettling -- today, slum dwellers make up 60% of Mumbai's population, which is approximately 7 million people. That's insane to process.
So for now, I'll keep my distance. You, however, need to go see the movie STAT.