Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Travel Trails and Interesting Interactions and Incidents

When it comes to interesting people I have met in my travels, the list is long. The experiences are varied. Good as well as bad. In the past 7 years, I have travelled to Switzerland, Malaysia, Thailand, UAE and of course I have travelled a lot within India too.  
Travelling across the globe raises some linguistic problems too and they make the encounter interesting.
Let me take this incident from my first Switzerland travel in October 2005. I had gone there for just a week and I really wanted to see the sunrise over the Alps over the Geneva lake. So I woke up early in the morning and went to the lake. I clicked a few pictures but soon realized that I was clicking pictures of the beautiful sight in front of me and the most important thing was missing from the pics … ME !!!
Since I was behind the camera, I couldn't be in front. I was neither carrying a tripod nor had I any idea of the timer settings. I had borrowed neighbour's camera for the trip. So here I was clicking one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen and I could not click with myself in it. (Photoshop possibility came to my mind but PS is BS … it's not real)
I saw another guy doing what I was doing. Clicking pics of the mountains and the sun rise.
He was looking around and he spotted me. He was Chinese and we tried to talk but we could not understand anything. Then it struck me. He might be facing the same problem as me. I tried to convey the thought to him but we did not understand each other.
Then I extended my hand to his camera and touched it. he probably understood and gave it to me . I took it and clicked his pic. Just like that. No setting the scene or checking the background. Just clicked.
Suddenly his face lit up with a wide smile. He took my hand and made me stand in a particular place and took the camera from me and started taking a pic. He took the pic and then showed the pic to me. I did not quite understand and just said NICE. He smiled and gave me the camera and then went to the railing around the lake and stood there as if posing for the camera. AND it hit me. He has composed a picture and showed me the pic to tell me he wanted me to take his pic exactly like that composition. I took his pic. He came rushing and saw the results. He smiled but not so widely. he did not seem satisfied. He took another picture and going backward forward, showed me the difference. I realized that I had missed the mountain peak. He them positioned himself again for the pic and I took some time composing the pic properly. This time he was satisfied. He smile was as wide as his face and with the morning sun rays hitting his face; he looks extra ordinary.
He then motioned me to go to the railing and he clicked my pic with his camera. The pic was good but I realized that it was in his camera so I handed hm my camera. He understood and clicked m pic with m camera.
Well … for the next one hour we were walking along the geneva lake taking pics of each other. He was holding my camera and I was holding his.
We practically never exchanged an understandable word. We did not really have a conversation in words but we exchanged a lot that morning. I will never my Chinese (or may be Japanese or even korean) friend.

Yet another very interesting person I had met was again a long time ago (this incident was around 2003-2004). I met him in a long distance Indian Railway train. He was a complete stranger and he began talking to me on his own. In those days, I had about 3-4 different rings on my hand. No no … it was not the impact of Amir Khan’s ‘Ghulam’ … it was all because I was asked to wear them by mom-dad; who were advised on this by a Jyotish based on my stars and horoscope.

This stranger saw my rings and was staring at me for quite some time; as I sat opposite to him in the train compartment; both of us sitting near the window. After quite some deliberation, he said to me “Beta, the rings you are wearing are not right”

I was surprised at him addressing me directly about my rings. He saw the questions on my face and clarified. He told me that he had knowledge of Jyotish-vidya (astrology). I took it all as part of the fun and extended my palm towards him. He said that he could read me and my future based on my face, the lines on my forehead; and didn’t need to read my hand.

He began telling me about my past … some generic things at first (which I assumed as guesswork) and then some specific things (which began to surprise me). All of the things he was saying were more or less correct. I confirmed them and even my friends were surprised and interested now.

At this point, one of my friends asked about my future. Our Astrologer stranger gave me a hard piercing look while I observed his poker face for some signs of emotions. And then he said it. Those words are something that I have never forgotten.

He said something to the effect that I would be very successful in life and rise in name and fame to great heights. I would have everything in life. I would have a lot of wealth. And then … at the age of 48 (I am not sure of the exact number now but it was near the half century mark); I will lose everything !!!

The compartment became silent; except for the sound of the rushing train. For the first time now, I spoke. I said I would keep part of the wealth in safe keeping with friends, relatives, banks, investments. Our astrologer friend only shook his head and said once more “You will lose everything at that time … and you will have to start from scratch all over again”.

Well … I did not say anything else and looked out of the window for I was visibly shaken. None of my friends or neighbors dared to ask the stranger astrologer about their own lives and future. I could not have any conversation with that man during the entire journey.

I personally do not invest too much belief in astrology but that incident has left an indelible mark on me. I neither live in fear of what that man said nor do I seem to be able to forget it.

This blog post was inspired by the contest on and sponsored aptly by

1 comment:

  1. Brief and Decent... :) wonderfully written and i envy your travels!!! :)