The Long Road To India.
This was my 3rd JWC and it was the furthest I’ve ever travelled in my life. When they announced the JWC 2015 would be in India and I said to myself with certainty that there was no way I was going. At that time I hadn’t travelled much and the thought of going to India seemed pretty far fetched to me. Little did I know that my involvement with Joomla in 2015 would take me all over the USA and Europe. This made the JWC a perfect grand finale to an amazing year of traveling and participation in the Joomla community.
Why I Went
I made the trip because I felt it was important for me to be there to celebrate with the community after a year of events and involvement. I traveled more in 2015 than in all of my other years put together and I've grown to love the adventures - and this seemed like the adventure of a lifetime. I knew very little about India but I figured it would be the most unique place I had ever visited and I wasn’t disappointed. The commute alone was an adventure and getting myself to the other side of the world took some serious planning. It’s almost a 20,000 mile round trip from Denver, about 20 hours in the air each way. That translated into almost 4 days of total travel time from Denver to Bangalore and back, with layovers in Germany, Dehli and Canada.
Welcome to India
It was 3am local time when I finally got through customs and went outside to find a cab to the hotel. It was a sea of people saying and doing things I didn't understand. A world filled with signs I couldn't read and smells of food I had never experienced. I found it to be very disorienting and I wasn't sure where to go. None of the taxi drivers would accept credit cards so I found an ATM machine, fully expecting it to have more options than "How Much Do You Want?". I realized I had taken a lot of details for granted in my preparations for the trip. It's easy to forget how many conveniences we have in the US. Until you leave that is.
When I finally found a taxi, I was a bit confused when the driver asked if I wanted to sit in the front seat and opened what I thought was the drivers door. I was exhausted and I didn't realize they drive on the opposite side of the road in India. Being a cautious traveller in a very foreign place I was a bit skeptical of the situation. It turned out he was just very excited to have an American passenger and he told me all about his dream to live in America. I was unsure of how I would be perceived by the locals during my trip and it was a relief to get such an enthusiastic welcome.
A Crash course In Indian Driving
The 30 minute taxi ride that followed is something I will never forget. The driver's questions and perspectives on the USA were interesting, but obviously influenced by popular celebrities and media stories. I did my best to explain that life in America isn't necessarily the way it appears on TV. He was nice and I was happy to share, but I was exhuasted. It was difficult to communicate at times and I was very distracted by the traffic and his driving. Every car on the road was honking horns non-stop and it was freaking me out. The driver explained that it's how people let you know they are swerving through traffic behind you so you don't crash into them. We also encountered several cars that were actually driving on the wrong side road coming towards us. Apparently, that's not uncommon in India because it's often faster than driving on the correct side. "No big deal" he said. His words provided little comfort. I had a white-knuckled grip on my seatbelt the whole time.
I realized quickly how different life is in India compared to where I live. Everything was backwards to me - the roads, the escalators, the doors, and so many other details we never think about until they are different. My watch had the same time on it but the sky was the wrong color since it’s a 12 hour time difference from Denver. People in India often move their heads side to side to agree with you and up and down to disagree - exactly the opposite of how we communicate yes and no in the US. It was often confusing and it became overwhelming after awhile, but the differences are what make it exciting.
Just getting there was an adventure - and the conference hadn't even started yet....
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