26th of August

The Kind Police Officer

Just wanted to share a little moment that made me smile. A moment which is one of the reasons that I so much love travelling.

I am currently in Chennai, Tamil Nadu a city of a little less than five million people – it is a big place. Feeling a little under the weather. I am feel saturated with South India, and my feet are itching to go somewhere else. I am craving the mountains, and dreams of going to Kashmir and Ladakh are starting to form. Also the mixture of 36 degrees blazing heat and intermediate periods spend in air conditioned rooms have made me slightly ill – nothing big just a sore throat and all that.

Being in a large city does not help with my current state of mind. I think when anything gets very big it has a tendency to become a little impersonal. Be it a city, an organisation, an enterprise (do not get me started on large enterprises,human resource management, key performance indicators, processes, etc – I will burst!). I can smell people being nice in a fake way miles away. I feel the hunger for money, and people on the street trying to sell me things that I don’t want, rickshaw drivers calling me their friend etc. So to be honest in large cities I get a bit cynical at times.

Now back to the topic of this post – the kind police officer. It all starts with me hitting the streets early this morning with the mission of finding some chai to make everything better. Thats always easy. Chai is everywhere. Also I wanted to buy some raw ginger that I could chew on the help soothe the sore throat. I must have asked a dozen people on the streets, and they simply did not understand what I meant with ginger. For some reason they kept thinking that I wanted to change money (??).

My luck changes and a man dressed in shorts and running shoes asks me what I am looking for. I explain him my situation and that I want to buy some ginger for the throat. He tells me where the nearest market is, and asks if he should take me there on his motor bike (it is less than 100 meters away and its nothing more than a few minutes of walk). I think before I started enjoying the adventures of traveling the world, if I had met a strange man asking me to get on his bike and drive off with him to the nearest market I would have felt shy and said no no it is fine I will walk there myself. But I immediately feel that this is a genuine act of kindness, and I do not waste the chance for a few seconds drive on his motorbike in the middle of the hectic morning traffic in Chennai.

Half a minute later we are standing in the market. The man at the market refuses to take payment for the ginger as he is a friend of the motorbike guy. Happy about this little moment of human kindness I invite the motorbike guy for a chai (even though I had just had a chai a few minutes ago – you can never have too much chai!). We spend a few moments together just finding out what we both are doing in life. It turns out that he is a traffic police officer. I ask him why he is dressed in shorts and running shoes, and he tells me his big passion is playing hokey. So he is heading off to the beach to do a bit of running practise.

When we have finished the tea he is about to pay for it, but I insist that I want to pay – it is my treat. That was the whole point – I wanted to give something back as a gratitude for his help. We say our goodbyes and I walk back to my hostel for some rest and to chew on my ginger. Feeling happy that genuine kindness exist everywhere.

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Categories:  India Thoughts Travel
11th of December

Traveling Blues and Hospitality In Kalkata

I have fallen a bit behind with updating this blog, so forgive me but this post should probably have been posted a few weeks back 🙂

The day after I reached Kalkata, high on being back in India, something new happened. I got the blues – the traveling blues. I think the emotional roller coaster of saying goodbye to the very nice Bangladeshi family really got to me.
For my whole stay in Kalkata, I didn’t want to do anything. I tried to push myself to photograph, but gave up after one day, and spend my time mainly reading and studying some IT (which I actually enjoyed quite a lot).

But this was a very new emotion to me, having the traveling blues. I guess I had gotten tired of saying goodbye to people, and I made no effort whatsoever to interact with anyone in Kalkata, as I really didn’t want to meet some more nice people and have to say goodbye all over again.

At the same time something very nice happened. I think Indian hospitality was trying to compete with Bangladeshi hospitality 🙂 I got a phonecall from a Indian family living in Kalkata. Now, I had done nothing to get in touch with this family. What happened was the my Indian ex-wife (living in Germany) got to know that I was in Kalkata.

So what happened was that she apparently called her Indian friend living in Denmark. And this friends sisters lives in Kalkata. So my ex-wifes friends sister called me and said that i HAD to join them for dinner here in Kalkata. Now that is Indian hospitality for you 🙂 That was quite a nice experience to soothe the travel blues I must say!

Anyhow, the blues is now gone, and although not very enjoyable I think it is an important part of traveling. You can not always be on a high. Yin and Yang and all that… This is one thing I enjoy about traveling for an extended time period. You can have rough times, and take them for the experience that they really are – without getting stressed out about it. If I had only been on a three weeks holiday, I think I would have found myself rather stressed out about having the blues.

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Categories:  Thoughts Travel
26th of November

About Farewells and Reunions

The day before Yesterday after 3+ wonderful weeks in Bangladesh it was time to say farewell. I was not prepared for what emotional roller coaster this was going to be. After spending 3 weeks with the Bangladeshi family I was already regarded as a family member, and when I left, some of the woman and children where crying. Boy was that tough… To be honest I was ready to give up. I am getting tired of saying goodbye – this is the tough part of traveling. And when there is crying involved… it does not get any less difficult.

But the family was hospitable to the very last end, and insisted that I should return soon, and they refused to say goodbye and insisted to say see you. I already made my first phone call to them to ensure them I was safe in India 🙂

I took the bus from Dhaka to Kolkata, as I enjoy entering a country by land. It is a nice feeling standing between two physical borders, and seeing the culture change immediately. Airports are a bit generic in that sense I feel. The bus journey was a grueling 16 hours long, lots of bureaucracy involved at the border, and I developed some nasty stomach problems on the way (some bad tea I think). Now when I arrived to India in anything but optimal condition, both emotionally and physically I was thinking – to hell with it all.

Now what always happens when I reach here, didn’t fail to happen again. This is my 6th visit to India, and the moment I stepped out of the bus into the streets of Kolkata I was filled with joy. I simply love India. It is such a crazy place, full of colors and life. I truly felt alive when I stepped out of the bus (5 minutes later I was in the toilet, that was a different version of feeling alive, but I will keep that private). I took myself a 15 hours nap, and now the system is feeling much better, and I am now ready to go exploring Kolkata. It is a very interesting city, and the part I am staying in has a decaying colonial architecture (Kolkota used to be the capital of India when the British where still around).

So here is me saying “see you again soon Bangladesh, and hello again wonderful India”.

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Categories:  Travel