There are some conversations that stay with you no matter how old they become. Such conversations can happen anywhere but more often than not they happen on the road. Or maybe I am more attentive to them while traveling. So here are some of the conversations from the road that refuse to fade away from memory.
5. India Taught me Patience: I was talking to a young lad from the USA while we were trekking in Triund in 2009. He had been on the road for more than 6 months in India. He had seen much more of my country than I ever hope to see. I asked him if there he felt any difference after traveling for such a long time in India? He told me India taught him patience. In India a bus would arrive when it wanted to and he could do nothing about it! Initially he would fret a lot over it but gradually he became more patient. He learned to let go.
4. How Much Do You Talk: It was the same Triund trek where I met a couple who got married at a local temple on the hill. They trekked to reach the temple with a pandit (priest). They decided to get married like this because they met on a trek. I was having a conversation with the bridegroom. The conversation gradually turned to travel. Both of us thought there was no one around. Suddenly a voice materialized out of a sleeping bag and told me, “How much do you talk kach kach kach. And you emphasize everything equally, no distinction between what is important and what is not!” I think I am still the same, only that voice out of the sleeping bag didn’t know that it was travel that made me talk. Meet me in the city and see how much do I really talk!
3. I Have 13 Wives: When we met our forest ranger Erick in South Africa one of the first things he said to us was- I have 13 wives! None of us took him seriously but a senior editor of a big Indian newspaper told him, “so what is the name of the 7th wife?” We all started laughing but for a while he really watched us, waiting for us to fall for it. It left me wondering whether there were some people who would actually fall for it!
2: Food Conversations with Self: I was visiting a hotel where I knew the food was lavish and they love to feed you. Now most of my trips happen amid chaos and I caught myself thinking like this, “oh my god the food is so lavish at this resort and they really believe in stuffing you. What am I to do?” And then I was really amused, I mean when did I develop such an attitude to food? Here was some good food waiting for me and I was thinking of it as a problem! Never again, I promise, no wonder what the weighing machine tells me!
1. Aap ke Paas Bahut Dhaan Hoga (You Must be Rich): One of our friends stayed at a dharamshala (usually a religious shelter where you can stay for free) in Rajasthan. So someone asked him what was he doing there? When he explained that he was a tourist the guy remarked- aap ke paas bahut dhan hoga (you must be rich). He could hardly comprehend that someone could visit a place without any purpose.
That story often reminds me of how privileged we are and how much for granted we take it! But even after knowing it when it comes to travel the only apt expression is- हजारों ख्वाहिशें ऐसी कि हर ख्वाहिश पे दम निकले बहुत निकले मेरे अरमाँ, लेकिन फिर भी कम निकले … (see translation here).