Very small beginnings

Somewhat surprisingly, the first shit I took overseas was entirely unremarkable.

They say that travel broadens the mind, that it changes you as a person, but from a physiological standpoint I think that's questionable. Is there a part of your brain heretofore sealed off that through geographical or cultural exposure is magically unlocked? Doubtful. I have a pretty broad mind to start with. The way my body operates overseas is exactly the same way it operates at home. It's just that the data my brain is processing is novel, the signals and sensory information different from the norm. We shit the same everywhere. (Except India.)

Travel, I think, is a reminder. A reminder that the thousand little truths we take for granted every day are actually a thousand generalities, if not outright lies. Approximations of the truth. This is how the bus works. This is how you make a pizza. Well, maybe. But when you are overseas you are reminded that all those excluded possibilities of no relevance to your transit or your job day to day are still true somewhere else.

Travel is remembering the novelty of difference.

For a while, that novelty includes old, tall buildings, but the irony is that novelty is a fleeting sensation. To the people who live and work all their lives in the places you don't, it is the norm. And of course, since that means everything is subjective, then no one destination is objectively more valuable, though the pressure of shared cultural agreement to designate some places as such commonly prevails.

So while I can and will admire the age, design and engineering marvel of old, tall buildings, what I really am looking forward to on this trip are the little things. The Helsinki airport announcers that politely call for a late passenger and tell them to "hurry up" to the terminal. The woman on the train from Milan who, with her Dolce sunglasses, pumping music and constant loud phone conversations, fulfilled the perfect Italian stereotype within thirty seconds of us entering the country. The brother and sister playing a clapping game together at Parco delle Cascine. The man in a new BMW pulling over to ask if the girl in the bomb with its blinkers on in the middle of the road needs help. The Indian man on the plane next to me pissing himself laughing at the Top Gear India special. (I suppose in that case, the novelty of a foreign perspective intruded on his normal, rather than vice versa, which is its own kind of wonderful.)

Travel is growing tired of something else for a while, so that when you return home you can experience your life as novel again.