Friday, September 28, 2012

On a pleasant autumn evening...

He anxiously took his seat in the row just behind the driver, hoping that, like all days, she would take the seat diagonally across from him in the adjacent row. Sometimes, human will is so powerful that whatever is willed becomes true. Perhaps, it was one such evening for him. He had never spoken to her and he was pretty sure that she did not even know his name. However, it did not seem to matter for him.

The bus started. Strong winds held the rain at bay. Dark clouds seemed to herald an earlier-than-usual sunset. Tree leaves were changing colors from one day to the next and in that weather, as the bus gathered speed and the winds kissed the leaves, he was transported to cloud nine! The harvest season was underway and nature was glowing with a prominent swagger perhaps with the premonition that the predicted harsh winter would soon take its own toll...

As he thought about the changing seasons, he happened to catch her eye. He had wanted to steal a gaze or two and be reconciled to it for the short journey's duration because he knew the power of those probing eyes...She met his eyes and held his gaze for what seemed like an eternity. Later he would realize that it must not have been more than 5 seconds. Yet, those large round black eyes and the smile playing on her lips left him acutely embarrassed as if someone had caught him with his pants down. She was smartly dressed in a heavy jacket and blue jeans. He couldn't help notice that her choice of ear rings had improved. She now had long blue ones that probably danced in tune with her every change in expression.

The Sun was suddenly out from behind the dark clouds and it looked like a rainbow might reveal itself...she wore her ear phones and turned her gaze to the window. However, every time he tried to turn to catch sight of her, she became aware as if it was a game. This only added to his embarrassment and he buried his face in his bag. He wished somebody would call him..wished earnestly for something to happen that would relieve him of this pleasurable torture...!

After what seemed like ages, his stop came and he got up. She did not spare him with a graceful exit. Instead, she locked her eyes with his. He got down and just then, a flock of birds alighted from their spot on a balcony and as the signal turned green, flew gracefully above the heads of the people crossing the road. Perhaps, they best exemplified the urgent flutter of his heartbeats at that moment!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why I love traveling..!

It was around 10 AM on a Sunday morning in the city of Strasbourg. I was sitting near a souvenir shop in the neighborhood of Little France. One of the most beautiful neighborhoods I have ever had the fortune to be in...a slight drizzle made the view more romantic. I remember the scene in vivid detail because something was intensely pure and genuine about the emotion I felt at that point. I cannot name it but I'd not be exaggerating if I say, I felt completely aware and at the same time as light as a feather. I have experienced similar feelings while biking down the slopes of western ghats back home, while commuting by the coal field express from Dhanbad to Howrah and whilst walking along the marine drive in Bombay.

Whenever I pack my stuff and step out, I do so with an open mind and a spring in my step. When I travel alone, I seek to engage my fellow travelers in trivial conversations, for I have discovered over time that good people are omnipresent. Last weekend, I was lucky to have breakfast and coffee with a girl from Brazil. Having completed her advertising course in London, she was on a tour of Europe. We talked about social media, advertising mix, traveling alone and traveling in groups, multinational companies from Brazil, Indian mythology and entrepreneurship.It was probably just 30 minutes but then two strangers from two different continents meeting in a third continent and talking about certain topics close to their hearts...well, I suppose only traveling can make this possible!

The night before, I arrived at the hostel to find an eclectic crowd at the reception bar. Even though I was alone and I knew nobody in that crowd, the jovial manner was infectious. I smiled and greeted a couple of people and was greeted back with equal warmth. That very morning, my first one in a new city, a young Brit had guided me to the nearest metro station and had offered his mobile number so that I can call him if I lost my way. Many a time, this genuine goodness of spirit makes me recollect what F Dostoevsky famously remarked "I do not want to and I cannot believe that evil is man’s normal state"

Traveling also, by virtue of the experiences it provides, inculcates a heightened degree of sensitivity. An ability to accommodate fellow human beings in our happiness and sometimes, experiencing an irrational joy in the presence of a total stranger...thanks to traveling I have experienced this often. A few weeks back, I overheard a conversation between two guys on the way back from work whilst they were making plans for the weekend. One guy said, "Traveling is perhaps the only thing that makes you richer without increasing your bank balance" He was spot on!