Throw the word open minded at me and I will start talking. Or writing in this case. Funny enough I just got called out by a friend of mine following a FB comment I made about traveling to India.
It was a comment following the news that India’s tourism minister has warned female tourists to not wear skirts “for their own safety” while visiting India. My reaction to it was short: Why would you want to travel to India, supporting an attitude like that?
I totally understand my friends reaction when he told me how surprised he was about my rather narrow minded attitude “considering the beauty of the country, the nice people and the good food”, especially coming from an expat. Oh, I give you that point, my friend. Not without further commenting.
Now, yes, I do believe that as an expat you have to keep an open mind. After all you move country, you have to adjust and you might live in a place you struggle to understand how some things are handled. But you simply have to go with it. I guess moving to Australia was one of the easiest moves as an expat as their system is so very close to what I grew up with. So my adjustment was probably not as big as it could have been moving to another place.
I guess being a parent is another reason for keeping an open mind, being able to adjust to changes in your life, meeting people that will influence your child on the way, meeting their friends, taking them to activities they chose. Being a parent teaches you that not everything will go according to plan.
Being open minded is one of the things I try to achieve. It’s one of the things that I try to teach my children. It’s one of the values I like us all to carry close to our hearts. And yet, sometimes I realize that I’m not. I realize that I’m narrow minded. Just like in the case of my comment on FB.
I agree, I’m narrow minded when it comes to India’s attitude towards females. I’m extremely narrow minded in that case. I do actually believe that nobody should travel to India. To make a statement. Have you watched the news over the last couple of years? Have you read or heard about how many little girls, young women, women got brutally raped by not only one person but a group of men?
I’m narrow minded as I don’t think it’s wrong to travel to India as a woman. I actually think it’s risky. Extremely risky!
And then, boom, Bob Dylan hits me on my head… I truly can’t understand what’s going on in India in regards to the harassment and rape of women. I can’t understand how it can go on, how it can be that bad, how they can get away. So yes, I criticize, Mr Dylan. Because it’s not right. There are many things out there in this world that are not right. Things I do criticize and really don’t understand.
My friend tells me that the country is beautiful and people are nice. He also tells me that the food is great. Other friends tell me that the got molested on a more regular base than not. They told me that they never leave the hotel unless they need to go to a meeting. They tell me how sick they get each and every time they are in India. They tell me about watching men grope women on the street, not leaving them alone, acting as if it is a sport. They tell me that while they were waiting for their driver in front of the hotel they found themselves suddenly surrounded by three men, one of them rubbing himself against her behind while the others were watching, touching themselves. Guess what: Nobody did anything, not even the police officer she approached right away. He shrugged it off…
I get that I’m influenced by the media, by what others told me.
It’s totally narrow minded to not head out and see for myself. It’s totally narrow minded to not head there and experience the country, it’s people and their food in their country. I agree. But in this case I rather be narrow minded. I actually go that far that I would try my best to talk both of my kids out of traveling to India.
Yes, I am all about being open minded, even if this post might give you a completely different picture. In my opinion there are things though that are not worth taking a risk. Things that are too dangerous to ignore the risk. If that makes me narrow minded, so be it. Traveling to India as a woman is definitely high up on my list of risky things.
There are two sides to it. One is that you put yourself into a risky situation. That is entirely your problem. I agree, you can head to India and have a fantastic travel experience. Or you can travel there and come back deeply scarred. And yes, the same thing can happen while traveling to any destination of course. But there is a higher risk if you travel to India as a woman.
It has been made clear again by the statement of the tourism minister. If you are a woman you are a target in India. It seems to be an issue they are not getting on top of that easily. As much as I agree that your skin is your skin and if you are willing to take the risk of being raped then that’s your decision, do you really think you should support a country with an attitude as such?In the end it all comes down to agreeing on disagreeing, right? I get that my friend enjoys the country I would never want to visit. He has seen it’s good sides, probably also the bad ones but the good ones must outnumber the bad. I give him that. I give him that he actually has the right to judge India as he has been there. I don’t. As narrow minded as I am in regards to India, I still believe that it needs an open mind to be able to agree on disagreeing. For an opinion to not entirely blind you. I found this quote while looking for a good one to end this post. While I agree with it on one side I also disagree with it in a way. Being open minded doesn’t automatically mean agreeing with everyone on everything. It simply means that you look at things from different angles, that you listen to different opinions, that you accept different opinions and that you don’t try to make people think your way. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t voice your concerns or ask questions. How can you learn if you keep your mouth shut? It’s the approach that matters and if you have a different opinion than others, so be it. I believe what often gets mistaken of being different opinions is when people want you to do as they do. When they want you to live your life the way they live theirs. This has nothing to do with being open minded. This is more about control. So many layers to cover, so much to take in consideration. The more I think about it the more I come to the conclusion that being open minded means that you consider what’s going on around you. You look at everything, maybe turn some stones to look deeper, listen, learn, compare, take in, feel. And then you make a decision. A decision that seems right for you. A decision to act a certain way. A way that is right for you. And then you do. You live your life, you keep looking, listening, feeling, tasting, learning. Adjusting. All in the way that suits you best. Without trying to form others, to influence them while they shape themselves without them wanting you to. You accept them the way they are, the way they shape themselves. Or you walk away.