When you scour the bookstore or internet for books on India, you typically find either thick guidebooks, language assistance books or novels about the author’s path to spiritual enlightenment. Sometimes you will find a guidebook for women traveling alone to India and in a rare case, you might happen upon books that discuss culture differences and how to overcome them while traveling. Enter, India Unplugged by Aurelia Zoss
I just read Aurelia Voss’ book titled, India Unplugged and it was a breath of fresh air, seeing as though Aurelia LIVED in India for three years! It is a glimpse into her life there while working and living in a country that is often misinterpreted and where few stories of a long-term assignment have been written down and shared with the masses. To get to know Aurelia a bit better, I asked Aurelia some questions about her time in India, as well as her thoughts on travel in general.
1. What was the all-time biggest struggle from your time living in India?
Visa procedures, living arrangements, and even the tax filing went very smoothly for me, and I’m thankful for that! But of course, there were some everyday struggles: In the office, it was the tiring task of following up with colleagues and explaining assignments in all possible details. Outside the office, it was the attention I got as a white woman as soon as someone noticed me. It was all curious and friendly gazes, but having mobile phones and cameras pointed at you can freak you out if you’re not in the mood for a photo shoot.
2. What surprised you the most, based on what you THOUGHT you knew about India before you went?
I had no expectations or preconceived notions before I left for India, which made it a little easier to be open and not judgmental about my first impressions. What did surprise me once I was there was this: Although everything seems to be in utter chaos, there is a peculiar rhythm to things. Once you surrender to this flow instead of resisting it, you will be carried by a wave of serendipities and marvelous moments only possible in India.
3. Where would you most like to travel next?
My bucket list of travel destinations is quite long, but on the top of it is an extended journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway.
4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?
That’s such a difficult question! I love being in cities with interesting people around and a good variety of events and new sights to discover. On the other hand, the best place to rest and recharge is in nature. Ultimately, what spending a few years abroad has taught me is that it’s wonderful to roam around and be free, but it’s equally satisfying to be just a short drive away from family and friends – people who really matter to you. This aspect aside, I love Canada! It has exciting cities, and incredibly beautiful nature.
5. What do you wish everyone knew about life outside of your passport country?
Once you are there and are you living the life, everything is far less scary than what you imagined it to be when sitting at home and contemplating a life outside your comfort zone. This, by the way, is true for most scary things in life!
If you’d like to win a copy of Aurelia’s book, leave a comment letting me know one of your assumptions or opinions about India – good, bad or indifferent! The winner will receive an e-book version of India Unplugged. I will draw from the comments (the old-fashioned way, out of a hat) on Monday, August 18th.