People not Places
Travel for people not for places
Oh my god, I like loooove Italy! I totally wanna go to Mexico for Spring break. Habibi, come to Dubai. When I hear about travel these are usually people’s Tom, Dick & Harry of dream destinations. And rightly so, these destinations have earned their names through years of beauty and cherished travel by many. Word of mouth and Instagram goes a long way.
While I have been to all these lovely places, I have a very different relationship with travel. I like to think in people and not places.
When I think of Malmo, Sweden I think of my blonde friend Andy, when I think of Bucharest, Romania I think of the caring Sandra, when I think of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia I think of my Falafel Fadhel. These are not flags of countries, these are faces to me. Travel is relationships.
People help me unlock the next destination similar to how Instagram helps a sorority girl in LA go to Cabo for spring break. My Cabo is getting Kebabs in Qatar over a 19-hour layover.
My Instagram girl hack is skyscanner.com. I enter the website, put my origin, and then select “everywhere” as a destination. As a cheapskate Indian this gives me the most economical flights out of my origin.
I have a list of flights that sometimes have direct connections to a new destination where Melissa is probably hanging out for the week or sometimes with a long layover option in a country where a high school buddy Jared is based.
How do I choose which human (country) I want to visit?
Well, there’s no tried and tested formula. It’s a lot like dating, based on a feeling at the time. Do I need an inspirational transformation, then perhaps I can pass by Anthony in Lebanon who will show me a new side of finance alongside some Manakish in the streets of Hamra.
This mindset has been a gift for my inner sorority girl. I have found my Spring break in Mexico on a regular basis.
I was in Malmo, Sweden for Christmas 2021. I had 2 options: either take a direct flight back to New York for $480 or take a 19-hour layover in Amsterdam for $425. Well who’s in Amsterdam but none other than my ultraspeaking colleague, Pim?
This layover turned into a wholesome reunion which added another colleague, Alienor who booked her ticket from Geneva to make this lame layover into a reviving reality. It was all thanks to thinking in people and not places, that I found a deep connection with people I still work with to this day. We have now changed the lives of many within the world of public speaking.
People go for the marijuana, I found my weed in Pim.
In Feb 2017 I was sitting in Langkawi, Malaysia with my family and was summoned back to San Diego for visa paperwork. But I had very little money and a lot of air miles. I found a free Japan Airlines ticket with a 10-hour layover in Japan. Japan!
Oh my god! I remembered Emily is currently traveling across Tokyo and I could meet her for that sushi dinner and explore the city. We ended up doing just that, while Emily was an acquaintance at the time, we enjoyed an extravagant sushi lunch followed by exploring the Pokemon Center.
Emily and I still see each other, she now lives in Ithaca and we last saw each other at Porto’s Bakery during an LA trip of mine. She hand-knitted a scarf for me that gets me compliments from the ladies to this day. A friend became family. Japan was not a place, it was a person.
It was my ultimate dream to go to Beirut, Lebanon. I loved everything about Lebanese culture. This was an instance where I wanted to visit a place, not a person. But we gotta get a SkyScanner deal.
I SkyScannered a flight via Doha, Qatar. The town I grew up in but had not been back to in 4 years. I don’t even know who’s there anymore, it was full of expats who kept moving.
Beirut was the goal but Qatar was the fuel, that was a subtle oil joke.
Surprisingly Salman, Shaun, and Ali were still in the country, so I booked the ticket to Beirut with a 24-hour layover in Doha. It was delightful, we went back to Turkey Central and enjoyed Kebabs and Karak just like old times. It was Krack
While there was an easier way to get to Beirut from my origin, I thought in people and not places. I got to have a 4 year late reunion with my brothers and it unlocked a rich direction to my trip. We got to relive old times, I got to see my old math teacher who gave me 3 F’s, and also my English teacher who told me to mind my French every time I dropped the F-bomb at the age of 15.
Lebanon was the cake but Doha felt like the necessary icing. I thought in people, not in places.
I could keep going about the times I went to Guadalajara for a date or how I ended up in Vancouver and made a lifelong friend. Thinking in People has been my Instagram travel blog. I am now addicted to scrolling but it feels healthy and economical.
Because of these trips - my relationships have deepened. My love for the world and humanity has been enhanced. Everyone is beautiful and so are their countries. People made me love places. Places did not make me love places.
I have now formed lifelong relationships with many more in creation as I embark upon my next trip to Geneva and Paris. While I am excited about the croissants, I am most excited to enjoy them with Christina.
My sorority sisters are not local, they are global. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you to Write of Passage for helping me publish this and understand the process of writing. Shoutout tofor giving me direction and clarity on my first substack