I’m Gideon Goldhagen, 17 years old, from New York City, an implant at 12 from Newton, Massachusetts. I would be a senior in high school, but instead, my parents and I decided to embark upon a year-long trip around the world. About two weeks in I realized there’s no way I’m spending a year with only people 40 years my senior because where’s the excitement in that, so I found Dragons online and now here I am! I’m really excited to see a country—and world within—that has always captured my imagination, and experience it with people my own age who, considering Dragons seems to be awesome, are likely pretty awesome also.
What to say about me? I don’t know. I play guitar occasionally, am obsessed with the band Yes, have a gluten allergy, grew up in a sports family, like to read, like to talk and, most of all, love to explore. A weak summary, I’d say, but hey, India is only two weeks away! We’ll know a lot more than just that about each other soon enough. For now, I’ll let this suffice, and non-technological interactions shape your first impressions of me more than a tired Saturday morning (if 1pm still counts as morning) soliloquy, recorded dutifully by my fingers.
I have travelled a lot, and, therefore, by osmosis, picked up the lesson Chimamanda Adichie so eloquently illustrated. That being said, my perceptions of India are bountiful: dirty, crowded. Like walking out into midtown every time you step outside, plus smells. Poor, a tough place to be in. A humbling place. A world completely different from ours, filled with statues of Hindu gods we’ve never heard of that receive a kiss upon each new arrival in their domain. Completely world-opening.
That is the India my mom portrayed to me, from her quarter-year there 30 years ago. Yet at the same time, I also have the India of Siddhartha, of Ashoka and Bodhi trees, of deep forests and winding rivers. The India that captured my imagination in the first place. It is also an India that, from what I have read, has been broken down by the ebbs of globalization, intermigration, deforestation, and all the changes that 2 millenia bring.
Those are my images of India, vague and, to me, unimportant. Those are nothing compared to the real thing. So while they may be the notions of present, I know better than to lend them credence. How will they shift? That’s up for India to decide.