A Traveler’s Odyssey: Meeting Strangers

When he decided to go on a trip with a random group of people, he had no clue what to expect or how things might turn out to be. ‘It would be a new experience’, he had imagined and ventured out without a second thought. Weeks later when he took the train back home, all he could think of was the time spent together with this random group of people and how surprisingly well they had managed to forge a bond.

“What has she studied?”

“What do his parents do?”

And similar questions his mom asked him when he told her about achievements of this random group of people. He had answers to none of them. ‘Why is knowing these things even important?’  he thought and was certain they all would have the same thought. 

It had simply been the traveler in them that had brought them together. Or perhaps a mutual friend. Or a common connection. Or a random facebook sighting of one of their pages.

They didn’t know what background the others came from. They didn’t know what their families did. They didn’t know how they were as individuals in their personal lives. The lives they had just left behind in the cities they had come from.

“Are you on this trip with us?” someone had asked.

“Yes”, came the response.

Thus had begun a conversation. There was laughter. There was humour. There was angst. And there was the thought- ‘Let’s make the most out of this time’. First impressions had just been made.

Over the course of next few days, they spent time together travelling, eating out, playing games, having stupid conversations. Then they returned home only to find themselves more connected than ever before.

They had enjoyed each others’ company. They had touched hearts at the grass root level.

They met again. And again. Sometimes travelling across the city, sometimes across several hundred miles. They had grown fond of spending time together.

Now they had no inhibitions when it came to speaking to each other. They didn’t have to think twice before poking fun at each other. They would talk for hours. Sometimes sense. Sometimes philosophical. Sometimes staying up all night. Sometimes about random things under the sky.

Each one of them came from varied backgrounds. Each one came with a story of their own. Some with baggage. Some with humour. Some simply inspirational. ‘Get to know each other’ games spilled the beans and they found comfort in sharing and keeping each other’s deepest secrets. They could share without the thought of others having a prejudice towards them.

They learned something new from each other. They never missed an opportunity to motivate each other if they could. When give and take didn’t matter, they preferred to shower love in all ways possible.

There were no expectations when they met. Some found someone weird. Some found someone funny. Some found someone lost. Some found someone trying to find themselves. Somehow their paths had managed to cross, somehow their thoughts had managed to match, somehow their conflicts had faded, somehow their ideas had leveled and somehow their hearts had connected.

The places they visited together were just the background. The destinations they went to now didn’t really matter. They didn’t know it yet but when they would bid adieu, there would be a lump in their throats, sadness in the eyes and dampness in their hearts.

After all, they had met as strangers on a trip. Perhaps in a bus journey. Perhaps in a different city. Perhaps in a different country altogether. They had gone there as travelers in heart. For a short break from the monotony of routine life. Each one with their own objective and interest. Each one with their personal agenda. They had seen sunsets together. They had got lost together. They had each other’s back. They had the best wishes for everyone else. And then they had returned home more connected than they ever thought was possible. A connection, a thought, an emotion which now they can’t explain to anyone, howsoever hard they might attempt.

It had been about the late night games and long conversations. It had been about the bowling alleys and paintball sessions. It had been about the airport surprises and untold plans. It had been about the impulsive decisions and the happiness of meeting. It had been about the innumerable emotional goodbyes at the end of the meet. It had been about the joy of seeing one another one more time. It had been about the fond remembrances of the days gone by. It had been about the tight and long hugs. It had been about the silent smiles that said a million things. It had been about being together without any expectations.

He had met them very randomly, he likes to think. Someone happened to be in the same car. Someone happened to be in the seat across. Someone he had heard of before. Someone he had read before. Someone he had religiously followed. Someone was from the same city. Someone was from a similar background. Someone who had heard of him. Someone he thought was weird. They were all very random meetings.

‘All the emotions. The connection. Does it make sense? Is it short lived?’ They would ask themselves several times. These aren't people you have known for long; perhaps just a few days or weeks at most. They aren't friends from school or college. But still you connected. At a time when perhaps every single being is looking out for an outlet for the pent up emotions, after all the good and bad times at work and home, perhaps it does make sense to connect with a group of complete strangers- A situation where no one has any prejudice, no judgment, no biases. When where you come from and where you go doesn’t matter. Where you can be you no matter what. The fact that these emotions make you humane. Real.

Deep down perhaps they all wanted the same thing. Spend some quality time together. Share some stories. Do good in their individual lives. Make people close to them proud. Spread some positivity. Support each other where they can. Have fun.

What they all knew was that the traveler in them had decided to take a trip few weeks back with a group of strangers. What they didn’t was that perhaps the universe had conspired to bring them all together. 

Have you had a similar experience during your travels? Did you meet a stranger and connected too well? Was there a story? Do leave a comment and share.

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  1. Antarik Anwesan! when someone puts aside all their work to comment on your note, you can safely assume that it has managed to stir up something inside of them. While I was reading your blog, i could entirely relate to each of the emotions and the thoughts you have penned down here. A lot of times thats exactly how I felt. Never did I feel the need to know about anyone's background or what their parents do, for that matter even what they do. It was just what they meant to me then. They were good people, fun to be with and like minded. Such diverse backgrounds as I discovered later, but somehow we clicked and connected and more. It was just the 'here and now' that mattered. Nothing else from the past. While we started off as trippers having the best of times hanging out with each other, little did I realise that somewhere this incorrigible little thing called emotion was also lurking around. These people who I liked and gradually came to adore with all my heart and became unconditionally attached to. These cool fun loving people were infact emotional fools deep down like me! Incapable of resisting the temptation of booking flight tickets last minute to just be with each other. Notwithstanding the plethora of constraints, we kept meeting. What is it that kept pulling us back together? The conversations, the games the times when we would laugh till out stomachs hurt and then hugs maybe, the strong connect and knowing that of it was genuine and heartfelt. The feeling that these people are mine. Thats all that mattered. And your note just corroborates that!

    1. The length of your comment. Wow. Wish people get inspired by you. (:P)
      Hope to see you soon Reshma; until then, let me be happy I tapped you on the head in MRF. ;)

  2. Antarik! I am just left with no words, but on second thoughts I decided I should let you know how your write-up brought tears in my eyes, for I relived all the trips I've done in the last 6-8 months. Little did I know then that the bond I'll share with some of the then strangers (now family) will be so strong that even when we are miles away and don't talk daily, you guys are still thought of fondly everyday and missed each day. The connect is such that no matter how much I distract myself and try not to think of you guys, the second I either see a picture of us or read something which directly or indirectly reminds me of all of you, I'm filled with emotions - joy or sadness, wishing we could all meet soon. And it's with this thought of "I'm gonna meet them soon" I energise myself each day! Here's to all the great times spent and the ones coming up soon.. Love Lav

    1. Thank you Lavanya. Glad the post managed to break into your emotions. But don't dwell in the emotions for too long. Apply for a job. There are even more trips to be done :)

  3. Antarik, you have so beautifully articulated what so many of us feel! Some emotions are not easy to express and so many feelings are not easy to describe. But you have managed to do that flawlessly and magically through words.Just reiterates that family isn't always blood. It's the people who you want in your life and the ones who love the imperfect you :) Your writing always manages to touch the heart and bring back wistful yearnings!!

    1. Thank you Jyoti....I didn't know until I read your comments that the post managed to serve its purpose :)


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