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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Travelling #3: Meeting people

Meeting other travellers is one of my favourite experiences travelling. It is hard to describe, but I find the bonds and time you share is very pure and honest. There are no pre-conceptions or demands. You are all just going the same way for a while, sharing the same space and in that, sharing freely. I find people generous, friendly, quick to assist total strangers and happy sharing what food they’ve brought. I think it often brings out the best in people. It starts simply with conversation, a few passing words, maybe only a few in an hour, but then getting to chatting, often very open and guileless since you likely won’t ever see each other again. You’re not looking or asking for anything, just sharing experiences, a few laughs, some good stories. And in that simplicity of relationship can often be found something surprisingly human and surprisingly vital. Because of this you are rarely alone travelling. It seems to take little time through these short, intense, or lazy crossings to find a person or a crew that wants to go the same way for a while and who knows from there.

I met two lovely people coming back on the train from Bangalore. CL grabbed me coming off the bus to ask what, if anything, I knew about getting to Chennai that afternoon. I knew jack all more than them since I was playing this all by ear, but we quickly pooled our resources, got away from the sketchy bus company people and found the train station. Actually they got there a bit ahead as I had some issues with my sketchy auto driver who was apparently in cahoots with the sketchy bus people and was resistant to taking me to the train (why do sketchy people always have this vast net of equally dodgy characters? Is there some union or online chat group where they find each other?). I caught up to them in the slow train ticket line though. And like that I was travelling with people. CL has been in India for 5 months and has had a series of interesting adventures, experiences and crossings. Her mother has joined her recently for a couple weeks. If I was moving on in a similar direction, we possibly would have continued on together for a bit. We traded emails and I wished them well in an auto as I headed home to bed after a long, but far too short Christmas vacation.

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