Travelling Alone, But Never Lonely

Having travelled alone on several occasions over the last few years (India Oct 2004-Jan 2005, Italy June 2005, Switzerland Jan 2006, and India Jan 2007), I have found that although travelling alone, I am rarely ever lonely. Either I have my own company, or I end up meeting some of the coolest people to ever have the pleasure of travelling with.

Take my most recent trip to India for example. I flew out on New Years Eve and returned just over a week later (on Mon 8th Jan 2007). Every single step of the journey, outbound and return, I met and connected with creative individuals from across the globe.

Gulf Air Plane
Fly Gulf Air – Meet Cool People

Soon after I checked into Heathrow Terminal 3 on 31st Dec 2006, I went through security and then onto the terminal. There, as I sat down, I got talking to someone who had been in transit from Virginia, going to Lahore via London and then Muscat. He had been waiting at Heathrow all day because he’d missed a connecting flight.

As I boarded the plane, I sat down at one of the emergency exit seats which the check-in attendant had kindly assigned me. Emergency exit seats are great – they mean EXTRA LEG ROOM! As soon as I sat down till we arrived at Muscat airport, I was immersed in deep philosophical conversation with some other random guy who was heading out to Karachi from Muscat.

When I landed at Muscat the next morning (where I was in 7 hour transit on the way to Mumbai), I ended up spending most of that time with the original guy who I met at Heathrow. He even treated me to Papa John’s pizza! It turned out that in Virginia he delivers pizzas for a living, and I was able to learn about the intricate nature of the pizza delivery business. That 7 hours transit became bearable!

As soon as I jumped on the plane from Muscat to Mumbai, I asked the air hostess to find me a seat with better leg room. To my good fortune, I ended up sitting next to Pradyuman Vyas, someone who lives near me in London, and we connected in deep conversation. Once again, great company!

That’s just the people I met on the way OUT to India…!

On the return journey on Monday 8th Jan 2007, soon after I checked into the airport at Mumbai, I noticed this one cute girl who sat near me before going through security. I noticed her again after security as we were waiting by the terminal to board the plane. Wondering whether I should approach her or not, I decided not to. Something inside me said “just wait and see”. As I boarded the plane, I discovered that I’d been given one of the middle seats, and was kind of annoyed that I’d be sitting cramped for the whole plane journey. Then I reminded myself that there must be some good reason for this, and to just wait and see.

Within moments, the same girl who I’d seen earlier glided up to my row and indicated that she’s in the other middle seat of that row, and that I’d need to move out so that she can slide in. How cool is that? Out of all the couple of hundred people to be on the plane, what are the chances that she’s been given the seat next to mine? She was on her way to New York, with transits in Bahrain and London. So we spent most of the flight flirting, joking, talking, eating, drinking and sleeping. It was fun spending the flight with her, and so we also had a coffee together at Bahrain Airport (where we were in transit on the way to London). This just goes to show – patience is KEY. If there’s something that you want, first let it go, then watch as it floods into your life.

Although in the next flight we weren’t sitting next to each other, I knew it didn’t matter, and was curious to find out who else I’d meet on my journey. So I sat down, once again in one of the middle seats, in the middle of a bunch of guys who were reading or sleeping, and didn’t appear to be much fun to be around. I thought this would be a boring flight on the way to London, and it turned out to be far from that! The guy who was next to me in the aisle seat offered me his seat out of the blue because he said that he didn’t need the leg room as I did. How nice of him! Then we got into conversation, and I found out that Nigel works for the Royal Navy, was based out in Bahrain for the past 3 months, and is returning back to Portsmouth to spend some time with his family. Nigel Jones filled our time together with insightful stories about his work with the Navy, and we got into conversations about diplomacy and non-violent conflict resolution.

Oh, and did I mention the air hostess…?

Do you travel alone anywhere? What have been YOUR experiences? Post a reply below and lets hear from you…

One response to “Travelling Alone, But Never Lonely”

  1. […] Aparigraha: Restraining the desire to accumulate more and more. When you want something enough, chances are that you’re going to do what it takes to get it. You might fight someone for it, you might kill for it, you might steal, you might tell a lie to get it, you might negatively influence someone to get it for you. You might even harm yourself to get it. All these things, in the name of accumulation, you’ll do, and as you do them, you bind more karma, that of course keeps you tied up in the cycle of birth and rebirth. Beyond non-accumulation is non-possession. What if you have something, and you hold onto it so tightly because you’re afraid of losing it. Grabbing hold of it, not letting it go, is a result of a deep fear of change that you have within you. You anticipate change, and fear it. You hold so tightly onto things, onto people, because you don’t want it to change, and you end up suffocating these very people. So Aparigraha is not just about restraining your desire for accumulation. Aparigraha is also about not being possessive about what you do have, and releasing it from your grip so that it can flow naturally. There’s a story about two little boys playing in the garden. They see a pair of incredible butterflies, and walk closer to them. The first boy reaches out and catches a butterfly in his hand. The second boy does the same. The first boy, not wanting to lose this butterfly clenches his fist so that the butterfly doesn’t escape. Oops, too late – he’s just crushed it. The physical shell of the butterfly is still there, but he’s squeezed the life out of it. He wanted to keep it forever and now it’s no more. The second boy, however, faces his palm upwards and opens his hand. The butterfly floats out and playfully returns to the palm of his hand within moments. Have you noticed that when you want something enough, but you don’t obsess over how to get it, that before you know it, the very thing you want comes flooding into your life? There’s a brief personal example of that at my post on Travelling Alone But Never Lonely. […]

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