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!