Can you remember an exact moment in your travels that changed you?
Do you think about that moment all the time and wonder to what extent your life would be different if you hadn’t happened across it?
I certainly do.
I can pinpoint the exact moment in my travels when I felt a complete shift in the core of what makes me who I am.
It was on a beach in southern India and the local street food de jour was roasted corn on the cob with fresh lime juice and marsala. The whole town smelt of corn, in a deliciously intoxicating way, not dissimilar to when you step into a movie theatre.
The streets were lined with vendors peddling their cobs for 20c a pop. Tourists (myself included) were buying fistfuls of the stuff and devouring it as they meandered along through the sticky night markets.
I noticed a man crouched in the gutter using hand gestures to ask passersby if he could have their naked cobs. Most gave them to him through an awkward transaction that included no eye contact and then they would scamper back to the safety of their friends, giggling.
Once alone, the man would pick at the tiny pieces of flesh left on the cob.
Although I had been surrounded by poverty in India for over a month, I think this was the first time that I truly saw it. It was the first time that the person on the street had a face, a name, a family, and feelings. And it broke my heart.
I bought some corn specifically for him and took it over.
He took it from me tentatively and I motioned to go ahead. His eyes lit up and he started chanting ‘good morning, good morning, good morning, good morning’ clearly the only English phrase he knew, but there was no misunderstanding his gratitude.
This was the moment. This was the moment that ultimately led to me quitting my glamorous yet ill-fitting job in the advertising industry and making a permanent move to the community sector where I now work to provide crisis support to people who really need it. My work is such a big part of who I am, that I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I might have gone my whole life without realising who I was, if I hadn’t gone to India and met this beautiful man.
I wish I could thank him.
Who did you meet, where did you go or what did you do that changed you? Share your life-changing stories from around the globe in the comments!