Moments between the noise and silence of travel

Life is not one long journey but one of several small journeys cobbled together. These journeys are made of moments that sometimes take your breath away and sometimes make you wonder about the very reason of your existence. Some moments leave you enthralled to an extent that you want to always come back to them and some of them leave you quizzical. In my travels across countries and continents, on the sturdy seat of a cycle and the comfortable seat of an airplane, I've come across incredible travel moments that have left an indelible mark. All of these travel moments belong to one or the other options mentioned in the list below

  1. Broken beyond any repair
  2. Amazed beyond amazement
  3. Pure unadulterated joy

BROKEN BEYOND ANY REPAIR

Two instances in the last one year have left me shaken and my soul stirred from within. One was a chance meeting with an 80 year old tea stall owner at the border of Haryana and Rajasthan. The man was fighting fit and a conversation with him left me dumbfounded. On asking the location of the tea stall, he responded, asking me if my God in my hands did not answer this. I did not understand and asked him to clarify. He looked at the mobile phone in my hand. I smiled. This was going well till we spoke for a few more minutes. He mentioned about how the doctor and the hospital administration in his native village had falsely diagnosed him of cancer and swindled him of hundreds of thousands of hard earned money. This was my first BBAR moment.

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An 80 year old tea stall owner who gave me my first BBAR moment

While travelling in an unreserved compartment to a destination in South Tamil Nadu, I had my second BBAR moment. The unreserved coach was empty. I found myself looking at a blind man who had boarded the train. The RPF constable was shouting at him, constantly asking him to leave the compartment. I intervened and told the constable that if he had not ticket, I would buy him one or pay the fine. This was an unreserved coach. NO ticket checker in the history of Indian Railways has ever checked and here the RPF constable had a problem with a blind man AND not with the 20 other ticket less travelers in the coach.

AMAZED BEYOND AMAZEMENT

There has never been a sight more terrifying than landing in the Nigerian City of Lagos. Even before getting out of the airport, I was frisked twice, asked for “gifts” for being the Indian friend of Nigerians and asked to produce the yellow fever card, despite 100 others not being asked. Not to worry, as I said to myself because I had the card on me! What left me amazed beyond amazement was the very sight of more AK47’s than human beings en route to the hotel.

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Murtala Muhammed Airport at Lagos

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Adelaide CBD

On my first travel to Adelaide, I knew what to expect- clean cities, incredibly helpful people and an amazing culture. I checked into the hotel in the CBD and was all set for my first night in Adelaide. I was not able to sleep for a good few hours and I tried to find out the reason why. It was only after a few days that I realized what I was going through. I had the same exact moment that Kamal Hassan had in Pushapk. The absolute silence in the night did not allow me to sleep. The zero traffic, zero noise CBD of Adelaide had taken its toll on me. I could not sleep in silence, for I needed noise.

PURE UNADULTERATED JOY

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My first trek in the Frozen Ladakh

Do you remember climbing the first mountain or celebrating your birthday on a boat ad mist a bevy of dolphins? Well, I do! On my first trek to the Himalayas in the Ladakh region of India, I was thrilled beyond any measure. On seeing the snow capped peaks on my flight to Leh, I felt like the 4 year old child who had gotten hold of his favorite candy, after seeing its picture a million times. The first trek was an incredible personal triumph and also an occasion to celebrate joy. The joy of trekking at 17000 feet and braving -30 degrees was beyond any comparison.

In 2010, my friends decided to drive me to what could possibly be defined as the best birthday ever. I lived in Dubai and we decided to drive down to Musandam, an exclave belonging to Oman. The Musandam peninsula is a drive that cannot be described in words. It combines two of nature’s best – mountains on one side and the Persian Gulf on the other side. The rolling mountains and the sea meet in a peninsula formation, the mountains forming a U shape, allowing the sea to rest. This creates a perfect location of salt water dolphins to revel and enjoy.

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Celebrating my birthday with dolphins dance in Penninsula

On the trip, we rented a boat and rode deep into the peninsula, only to discover even more variety of sea life and more dolphins. I capped my birthday by witnessing their beautiful dance mid sea and also touching them. Joy was never better.

Have you had any such moments? Are there any other moments that you have experienced while travelling? Do share it with us

PS: This post is contributed by Siddarth Dudheria

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