Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Travel Tales and Interesting People

Life is interesting and travel makes it more interesting.
Travel helps you see places and yes … meet lots of new people. You meet people at the new place and meet people while you travel. The places can be pretty interesting but the travel could become boring depending on how long they are. Long journeys are made interesting by people you see and meet in those journeys. You meet all kinds of people – good, interesting, grumpy, sleepy, snoring, chatter-boxes, silent mode guys, those-occupying-two-seats, those who carry food for everybody, those who eat-eat-eat, those who keep asking others to keep quite … the list is endless. These are the people who make our journeys interesting.

When I saw the contest on about interesting people we meet while travelling (sponsored by … so apt), it gave me a rush of memories. Over the years, I have travelled between Mumbai, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Dubai etc etc via trains and places; of course local travel within the city via buses, taxi, rickshaw, local train etc … and one tends to find interesting people all around.

If I had to record all the interesting people I have met in past so many years, it would become a decent sized novel and it would have various shades being a collection of various kinds of people. Let me try and mention a few of those interesting people I met …

Interesting Incident / Person No.1 – The Transformation !

I have travelled to Rajasthan often to my native place and most usually it would be during the summer school holidays. Travelling would be hot humid sweaty and soooo irritating. And that would be not just me but all the passengers. Atmosphere would usually be charged with a lot of irritation unless you had a lively group around playing antakshari or dumb charades or cards or some other travel games. This incident occurred when I was travelling in a rather boring boring and irritated compartment with all sad-irritated-angry looking passengers. Everyone was silent and sleepy and sweaty. They would get angry and irritated by even the slightest cause of disturbance. Even the arrival of TC (poor guy was just doing his job) made people angry. And that is when it happened.

A poor woman (dirty clothes, haggled look, hair disheveled) with a 2-3 year old baby entered the bogey and edged towards our compartment. She wasn't a beggar. She wasn't begging. She was looking for some space to sit. There was no seat, since the train was full with extra passengers all around. She was just looking for some space (even on the floor) where she could sit. She found some space on the floor opposite our compartment and sat down. She clearly seemed to be travelling without a ticket and people were not at all happy to have that dirty lady sitting near them eyeing her suspiciously and securing their own luggage.

The child in her hand was hopping in her lap and looking at all the people around. The baby could probably sense the general atmosphere around and was looking at all the gloomy faces. I was on the upper seat sleeping and watching all this. The kid was looking curiously at an old lady who was sleeping and suddenly the lady woke up with a lurch. The baby chuckled. In the noise of the train, somehow everyone seemed to have heard the chuckle and looked at the baby. All heads turned towards the baby and saw his smiling face. And immediately the gloom of our compartment disappeared. Everyone was smiling. Each and every face in the compartment and some of those in nearby compartment were all smiling looking at the baby. No one seemed to mind the dirty looking lady now. There were smiles all around. I was pleasantly surprised to see the transformation and whenever I think of that incident, I wish I had a digital camera in those days; at least I could have captured some of those moments.

(Before blogging, I told this incident to my hubby and he surprised me by giving me a book to read. The title says "How to win friends and influence people" and he says I would enjoy it. I think it has something to do with this incident but can't understand what. I don't really read a lot and this book would take months to read)

 Interesting Incident / Person No. 2 – The working kid with high self-respect !  

This was 2 years ago when I visited Mahabaleshwar with my hubby. We were to go on a tour of Mahabaleshwar tourist spots and had engaged a tour guide for the same. At the appointed hour, we got a surprise when his son arrived instead of him. The kid (who was hardly 14) told us that his father was having high fever and could not come. We told him it was ok and would look for another guide; he said that he has come in replacement for his father. We were not sure about his 'tourist guide' abilities but he requested us to allow him to come along. He mentioned that he needed the money for his father's medicines so he needed to do it himself rather than handover to another guide. We were in a dilemma and then he gave an offer which we could not refuse.

He said that we pay him ONLY and ONLY if we are satisfied by his tour guide role. If we are not satisfied, he would not accept the money. We were compelled to think of this as courageous (and we were also equally impressed by this lad's confidence) and my hubby decided to give him a chance.

The half day tour was GOOD. He was rattling facts about Mahabaleshwar and its various places like a kid talking about a movie. He knew everything by heart and he shared the stories with such passion and dramatic story telling that it made for an interesting tour. We were sooo impressed by the kid that my husband decided to give him 100 bucks as bonus which the kid simply refused. (We were surprised and shocked at this) He said that his father had taught him not to accept money that is not earned.

We asked the kid to visit us again the next day so that we could have him as our tour guide for Panchgani and other places around. He agreed. The next day was equally enjoyable with him. But this time around, since our travel times in the cab was more, our conversations veered towards the kid's personal life. He told us about his family, his education, his father's feeble and seasonal income, his own dreams, problem with his education and so on. We felt so much for him. He reminded me of the other side of life. We live our comfortable lives and don't think much about the plight of others. He changed my view of life. He changed the way I looked at life. My hubby tells me it is called Paradigm Shift. (He is an MBA and keeps throwing such random heavy words at me often; which I never seem to understand; but he said I should include this here in the post so that the reader understands what I underwent)

Well … we really wanted to do something for the kid but he had already refused to accept money. My hubby (an avid reader of books) found a solution … (he usually does find solutions to all sorts of small and big problems I keep coming up with). He bought the kid some books. Books he would find interesting and would be helpful to him in realizing his dreams. We even had a chat with the book stall owner about possibly funding the school books for the kid. He gave us the contact details of his school. I left it to my hubby to take it forward with him.

I will always remember the sweet innocent and intelligent face of that kid (I am sooo guilty of not remembering his name now) and will never forget the 'paradigm shift' he gave me that day.  


Well … so here are just few of the numerous interesting incidents and people that travelling around made me experience. I am sure everyone has interesting experiences to share and if you have read so far and have an equally interesting incident to share; feel free to put it in the comments.
I would also like to thank and for giving me a bout of nostalgia :)

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Does Distance makes the heart go fonder ???

Long Distance Relationship ... Do they really work.

Well, I never thought about it till it began to happen to me. And no, it is not happening to me in the traditional sense. It is happening to me in a different manner, such that most won't consider it as a 'long distance relationship' variety.

My husband isn't away in foreign lands for extended periods while I am stuck in India … so we aren't exactly in a long distance relationship.

BUT he needs to travel every month for a week or two and THAT is when he is AWAY from me! THAT is enough for me to qualify as a Long Distance Relationship because I don't like it. This separation from him, even for a few days, is something I don't like. I lose my sleep ad cry ever so often in his absence.

Nothing seems to be cheerful or enjoyable in his absence. I have attended a party, a wedding, some family get together and even family functions … without him and I have enjoyed none. I would have loved to have him by my side and that would have made the whole event enjoyable for me.