My adventurous weekend in Srimongol last week led to a radical shift in my worldview. I was hanging on to the rails of a truck as we sped through tea plantations when I made my discovery. As the sun beat down on my furry arms and the wind whipped through my voluptuous, flowing beard, I saw a weird plant I didn’t recognize. I asked our local guide. His answer blew me away.
His response shook everything I thought I knew about the wonderful world of vegetation to the core. The philosophical implications of my newfound discovery were profound, challenging my conceptual food-group framework. My definition of what constituted fruits and vegetables is now in ruins because I discovered that pineapples do not grow on trees. They grow in the ground like carrots! Boom! Worldview shattered.
It is funny some of the random things that you learn while living and traveling abroad. In addition to the obvious cultural and historical knowledge I’ve gained from meeting new people, eating new food and visiting historically important sites, I’ve also learned some fairly common, everyday things that add up; slowly but surely changing the way I see the world.
For example: apparently the game of Clue is only called Clue in the United States and Canada. Everywhere else in the world it is christened Cluedo. Corn is actually pretty good as part of a dessert. Marmite and vegemite are disgusting! Bangladeshis use “bai” far more than any Newfoundlander. Tesco is amazing. Oranges are actually green when grown in tropical climates. Etcetera.
It may be slightly hyperbolic to claim that my recent discovery of pineapples growing in the ground has changed my personal philosophy of life. However, when combined with the copious amounts of little tidbits of information I’ve picked up in my journeys here in Asia, it might not be far from the truth. I’ve changed over the two years I’ve lived in Bangladesh. I can’t really pin-point how, but the small discoveries, random, insignificant pieces of trivia and daily cultural experiences have profoundly changed me as a person. My pineapple revelation was a catalyst prodding me to think about how traveling and living abroad has transformed me as an individual. I'll be doing a lot of thinking as our adventure in Bangladesh draws to a close this summer.
One thing’s for sure though; never again will visions of pineapple orchards dance through my head.