What has to be given up in order to go beyond the ordinary and pursue the latest oyster, the latest opportunity? For India, my opportunity cost had many aspects: missing a week of early semester classes, missing work shifts at my three part-time jobs, missing meetings, and most importantly, being away from my girlfriend who I love to travel with. But away I went, and now, instead of spending my Monday morning in a class lecture, my Monday morning was spent talking about innovative forms of development with practitioners and inspiring individuals all gathered in Hubli, India to celebrate the Deshpande Foundation movement and discuss solutions to some of India, and the world’s, biggest problems.
On both days of the conference, I missed the bus heading back to my hotel. I was not planning to miss the bus, but when it happened, I welcomed the opportunity to have conversations and experiences not confined to any time limit or jam-packed (yet awesome) schedule. The two days of the more formal dialogue were incredible, but with hundreds of fascinating individuals attending the conference, the prospect of speaking with them all individually and hearing each and every one of their stories was overwhelming. Missing the bus going back to my hotel meant I could forge new friendships with Indian students who are part of one of the Deshpande Foundations program, such as the Master’s of Social Entrepreneurship. I was able to buy handmade gifts from vendors at the many booths that were set up, while speaking in length with those people I would not otherwise have gotten to know from India, Germany, and the US, stories that I would have never known to exist. And of course, I made it back to my hotel each night, the second night on the back of my new friend Chuba’s motorbike as we swerved through rush-hour traffic on our way back to the Clarks Inn Hotel.
When on a whirlwind trip like this, it’s hard to know, “when to move on, when to stay?” as I never want to miss out on anything, but at the same time, the value of slowing things down to have genuine extended conversations with a person and to really explore a location beyond the surface level is more valuable than any bus schedule. The world is full of fascinating individuals, especially those connected to something like the Deshpande Foundation, and in my opinion, an extra few minutes of conversation will always take me back to the hotel eventually, but those conversations and relationships I have made will last much longer than my feelings of guilt for missing the bus. So when travelling with a group, sometimes the opportunity cost of sleep, eating dinner, or getting back to the hotel to check emails is outweighed by the possibilities that present themselves when the concept of time is removed and the only things that matter are the here and now of a place and individuals that define it.