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Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists
I’ve a confession: when I started this blog, I didn’t expect to have to write so much. I didn’t expect it to be so much work. And I bet you didn’t expect to be reading so much. Then again, there are lots of things I never expected. I never expected to hear myself complain that the music’s too loud or lament “It’s already 7am! Where has the morning gone?!” I never expected my thirty-something-year-old self to channel the seventy-something-year-old man inside. It works the other way as well. In my twenties, I expected to have life figured out. I expected to win the lottery all four times I played. I still expect that #5 will be my golden ticket.

Anytime you suffer a setback or disappointment, put your head down
And that’s the problem with expectations. Rarely are they met. Whether it’s the trajectory of our lives (“I really expected my boy to become a doctor”), or the people that pass through them (“honestly, I expected you to be more interesting”), things ain’t always what we expect. In fact, I may drop the word from my vocabulary because, except to offer contrast, it’s becoming useless to me. It’s like “perfection” – it just doesn’t work for most of us (I’m not talking about you, Natalie Portman). Of course, I’m referring to the disappointments expectation brings, and obviously, life throws out lots of lovely, unexpected surprises daily; but let’s ignore that so I can make this post work. I’ve got to slap you with the negative so you can appreciate the positive. I mean, that’s what you’re expecting, right?

Hope is the keeper of both happiness and disappointment
Well, I find that too much expectation invites disappointment, especially when traveling. All that time planning, dreaming, building up an experience in our minds and reality doesn’t always cooperate. We have expectations for a trip, how perfect, how easy, how totally unlike home but just as comfortable and equally incredible a place should be, and it’s anything but. So, let me riddle you this, where do you go to meet all your expectations and keep your vocabulary intact? You go to India. That’s right, India. You expect India to be crazy. Check. You expect India to be a challenge. Check. You expect it to be chaotic, frustrating, dirty, depressing, and completely overwhelming. Double check. You expect it to blow your mind, fascinate you, overload all of your senses, amaze you with it’s beauty, complexity and the food (holy hey zeus, the food!), so much so that you’ll look forward to going back after you’ve recovered. Hellz yeah, checkity-check and check.

We shall find compensation in every disappointment
The Taj Mahal, for me, was one of those places that exceeded expectations. I’d been traveling through Asia for about five months by the time I got to the city of Agra. I’d been surprised, delighted, disappointed, overwhelmed, and I was feeling worn out, a little jaded, and after a few 18hour-train rides with bonus 12hour-delays, less enthusiastic about “experiencing the real India”. The eagerness to see the Taj was still there, but healthily tempered. But when you get to the Taj, man, it’s impressive. Seriously impressive. Some places lose their charm and impact amongst swarms of buzzing tourists, but even with, the place was magnificent. I spent hours there. I went twice in one day just to watch the light reflected off the famous mausoleum’s marble shift from orange to white to blue in the changing light of day. And I’d go back again.

The image above* was taken from the western mosque of the complex. Stepping out as I was stepping in, these women clad head-to-toe in sunset-violet pinwheeled me around, and as you’d expect, this boy, overcome by all that color and unexpected splendor, figured it was a moment worth capturing.

*For you photo techies, I shot this at f/9 by 1/320, at 28mm, an ISO 100 and a bias of -1.7ev. But if you expect me to know what that means, you’ll be disappointed.

And you? What meets your expectations? Let me know and  leave a comment.

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