What are the most important life lessons did you learn from traveling and living abroad?

Before answering the question, it is necessary to first appreciate the fact that every country has its strengths and weaknesses and India is no exception to that rule. When I visited the United States as a young man of 26 it was a momentous period of my life especially because I was anxiously looking forward to such an opportunity like scores of other Indian youngsters. I was, and still is, a fan of American popular music and I also liked to watch Hollywood movies. More than all these touch-points it was the opportunity to see the dream destination that so many people all around the world crave to visit.

I had taken the Pacific route on a single stopover flight to Los Angeles and it took around 20 hours. It kind of freaked me because prior to that I had never been on a flight for more than two and a half hours. On the plane, I befriended an American woman who had come on a visit to India and was head over heels in praise of my country. I was getting a little uncomfortable especially since my mind was full of imaginations of her country. Then came the real shocker - she was a bar steward in a small town in Arizona and took care of an ailing aunt with a few extra dollars that she earned by cleaning up public toilets!

Why did she do that, I asked. This time she frowned and asked, what was the problem with what she was doing? Well, you can very well imagine my condition - I was after all an Indian with all my biases against certain types of professions. Not entirely my fault though, because we bred this system of profession-based segregation for nearly two thousand years to give shape to one of the world's worst class divisions in our society. Thankfully, she didn't persist with her query but it taught me a lesson I'll never ever forget - respect the dignity of labor.