GUEST STORIES: The Joys and Insights of Travel
A trip to Savista is a meeting, first and foremost. As a westerner and a European, it is always a privilege to experience the world differently. I have been travelling since my early age, as my father was a French diplomat, and ever since the age of 2, I have been journeying round the world. Later in my life, my work took me to places around the globe too…and it never ceases to amaze me just how incredibly diverse life on earth can be…and of course, just how much we also share in our experiences on this planet.
So coming to Savista is a privileged moment when you can encounter “the other”, or what you think is “the other”…to challenge notions of what being a human being is, what life on this earth “should” be like, or could be like and gain perspective on one’s own…well…perspective!
The most illuminating moment came for me when at Savista and I took the camel ride to the neighbouring village. When I arrived, I was greeted by all the children running towards me, with huge smiles…this was the stuff of films and documentaries…stuff you see on TV and don’t really believe at times…and here it was…then came the sharing of tea and smoking…and huge amounts of communication without even speaking 3 words of the same language…The most touching and moving moment for me was the way the community of families cared for and dealt with a mentally challenged young man who lived with them. I have rarely seen such humanity and care. They neither ignored his condition ( they made fun of him and laughed at his weird motions or mis-formed words) nor did they put him aside or outcast him…he was an integral part of the village…and was clearly very happy there…It is hard to describe the feelings it brought out in me…and I would probably be very sceptical if I was reading this and had not experienced it…but it was as if I was witnessing a lesson in meeting and being with “the other”…about how differences exist and should not be ignored AND facing those differences allows you to see what is common and therefore accept the difference… Very often, we either glorify or denigrate what is in others…and the truth is that the path to integrating differences is actually accepting them..
India is often a land of contrast…the peacock on top of the rubbish pile…the divine next to the most profane….and my trips to Savista have shown me that: there is not light without darkness, nor darkness without light…and it is not by ignoring the shadows, the “other”, that we are ever going to reach a point where we can move on…we must transcend AND include if we are ever going to have a chance of living with more love and care for each other.
Many of our readers will find themselves resonating with Olivier’s thoughts. Olivier is one of that wonderful breed of thinking travellers that magically find their way to Savista to become part of our extended family, and create the possibilities for multi-layered conversations about culture, nature and the human condition that continue long after the “guest” has departed from the “hotel”. He promised to return, and did so 12 months later this year, and our conversations resumed effortlessly.
Charmingly understated and utterly modest when it comes to talking about himself, Olivier typically does not dwell on his many talents and interests. Notable among these are his love for theatre, and his intellectual engagement with world cultures. His India connection began long before he actually visited this country, when he was immersed in his former profession as an actor on the British stage. One the successful productions of his theatre group was a several hours-long version of the Mahabharata, staged in London, in which the four-member cast essayed multiple roles. As a preparation for his role(s), he familiarized himself with Sanskrit and made a close reading of the epic.
Currently, Olivier along with his colleague Fiona Bibby, runs Inchigo, a consulting firm that works with clients internationally (www.inchigo.com). Trainer, facilitator, coach and consultant, Olivier is a world class coach, passionate about expanding and developing human potential and inter-personal relationships in order to help individuals and teams in companies to embrace change, adapt and increase their performance.