It is morning now in Mumbai. The first thing I saw when I woke up was the sad news about a shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. How frightening that must be for all of you who are about to fly, and for your families, as it is for me. I don’t want to let this moment pass unremarked, for your sakes or for those who have suffered in Florida.
We all know at some level that we live in a dangerous and unpredictable world, but if we let that knowledge dominate our thoughts all the time, we would never taste the sweetness of any moment, as Reyna’s beautiful post says so well. Smart research shows that our lives are in fact more safe than they have ever been in human history, but our communications technologies plus our human tendency to focus on dangers magnify our sense of the prevalence of disaster.
Certainly we expose ourselves to different challenges when we travel, but locking ourselves up at home is no guarantee of safety either. My choice has been to travel as widely as I can and meet as many people as I can, hoping for the best from all of them even as I acknowledge that not everyone deserves my trust. I stay alert for warning signs as I venture out every day. And I have enjoyed such kindness and friendship everywhere I go. The rewards have far outweighed the risks.
The fifteen of you have all taken the brave step of committing to this journey and I take very seriously the trust you put in me as you do so. Your safety is my first and constant priority. And not just mine. Security at U.S. airports will be heightened after this latest shooting. Security at Indian airports is more intense than at any U.S. airport I have seen. You will see security measures all around Mumbai too, and these have been in place for years. Gun laws are much more restrictive here than they are in the US.
Keep all that in mind if it helps, and take this step with me anyway. We will be brave together but not foolish. It will be wonderful to see you on Sunday evening.
Today we visited an area filled with stalls selling antiques, also bicycle parts, plumbing, and fresh vegetables. The area has the colorful name of Thieves’ Market (Chor Bazaar) but it is a quiet Muslim neighborhood full of people just going about their day. I was wearing Indian clothes – a wide scarf (dupatta) across my chest, a long tunic (split at the sides), over loose pants – and I had a heavy bag slung across my front. After we had walked and shopped for an hour, a woman walking by stopped right in front of me, looked at my hips, and silently tugged the front of my tunic back down over my pants. The heavy bag had made the tunic ride up. I had no idea. But she did and she took the time and trouble to take care of me. Such kindness to a stranger. I leaned toward her, touched her arm and thanked her and we just smiled at my foolishness.