I love ancient stories that teach a lesson and one of my favourites is the Indian parable of the blind men describing an elephant.

The story goes that several blind men describe what they experience when they touch an elephant, variously describing it as like a wall, rope, tree, snake, spear or fan, depending on the area of the animal they touched.

The elephant described by blind men -  Elephant illustration (C) Jason Hunt   naturalchild.org/jason

The elephant described by blind men
Elephant illustration (C) Jason Hunt naturalchild.org/jason

They were all correct, but their subjective experience was not an accurate reflection of the whole truth.

I often think of this parable when travelling, conscious that my experience is subjective; as a relatively privileged European visitor, I imagine how the experience might be different for locals or others in many places.

Lake Titicaca islanders enjoy enviable tranquillity, but medical emergencies and transporting supplies must be difficult; tight-knit familial societies must be wonderful to grow up in, so long as you fit in with their expectations.

So any travel or living abroad anecdotes come with that caveat: this has been my experience. If you have had a different experience in the same place, I would love to swap stories!

I am a digital marketer who has recently returned home to Ireland, following a two-year stint working in Silicon Valley, California. I am an avid traveller, reader and oenophile, always happy to connect with new people, online and IRL. All content (c) Karen Henry 2010-2016