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Saplings travel but banyan trees do not-46


April is the cruellest month - so said T.S.Eliot. And pray why was anyone born in April?
Well, we did see the brunt of cruelty this month in countries like Yemen, Syria, parts of Iraq, Sicily, S.Korea and Nepal, with regard to humanity. Somehow Indians have no hand in it but we seem to be a lot inspired by Vasco da Gama, Christopher Columbus and Confucius. We seem to grow wheels on our feet, a new definition for explorers, and there is no stopping. These 20th and 21st century explorers, they can, or rather they will run, fly or sail to far off lands until an ethnic tragedy strikes the locals or a natural tragedy pounds the earth---earthquake. Then they have to run helter-skelter for refuge.

Recently, Nepal was not spared when an earthquake of high magnitude, 7.9 on the Richter scale struck the middle and eastern part of the nation. I was informed by some ex-Nepal visitors that 90% of the affected persons were Asian tourists of which most of them were from India. It was magnanimous of our PM to arrange rescue efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the Nepalese who realised providing for the tourists was not more taxing than seeking their near and dear ones who were either injured or buried under the rubble. Loss of property, goods and people cannot be measured even today. The death toll may touch 10,000 soon.

Flair for travel busted

Have you ever been forced to travel on botched-up tickets? I mean tickets bought for somebody but used by you, This would have happened a few years ago especially Rail or Bus tickets were bought from touts. Nowadays it is rare because of computerisation but this breed of travellers abound  by purchasing tickets on VIP quotas and travel cattle-class. Then the confusion and mayhem that follow is inexplicable. Then we have some who buy inadequate tickets under the pretext that some kid travellers are below five years so they do not need tickets. Some are civilised (?) enough to hide the kids in the train toilets to avoid suspicion from co-passengers and the ticket inspectors. Well at times the air travel   management also provides such fluke benefits to  its favoured and frequent travelers. Many such instances I can quote, specially about an acquaintance who was a recruiting agent for the Gulf (Middle-East). At times his gang of those ‘recruited’ men would return due to incomplete visas or lack of positions abroad. Then this agent would coolly dispatch his kids back to his home town on an overcrowded flight. Pity those kids.

Many years ago I desperately wanted to visit Sri Lanka when a fierce Tsunami struck the south Asian shores leaving scars still unhealed. Soon my near and dear ones consoled me that I was lucky not to have visited the Emerald island. So my plan was shelved.

If some good soul who is generous and hard-hearted (?) can just book a ticket (one way) to the most natural disaster-prone destination, like Ensenada for me. I shall abide by those travel plans. At least my name will feature in the dead/injured/insured list. The order can be reversed but who will  be responsible for that singular misogynistic venture? Misadventure?

Exploring Pilgrims’ Minds

A grim reminder still gives shudders when I heard about a group of devout pilgrims who earnestly wished to pay a maiden visit to a holy shrine in north India. The group faced an unprecedented tragedy. The car in which the group was travelling had a breakdown so ever willingly the group accepted a lift which was en route to the shrine. The vehicle had a fatal mishap as it rolled down a slope. Some had to be extricated from the vehicle but most of them did not survive. The survivors of the group had to put off their visit and were left with bitter memories.
Another when an elderly lady of the family who sponsored a family pilgrimage but they returned. The lady died due to a severe heart attack. Mission fulfilled but it ended on a tragic note. Journeys of any nature do invite risks but to sustain and return safe is heroism.

Rule: There can be no compensation for foolhardiness.

Travelling with Lucy

Lucy an office colleague, a Goan, was enamoured by the spiritedness of south Indians. She wished to travel down south with me as companion, a natural choice, except for the spiritedness. Of course, no lesbian leanings. So we decided to explore three states in twelve days - Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Both of us being spinsters, we were answerable to our respective & respectable families through STD calls as mobile phones did not exist. Our tastes were similar except appetites differed. She never grumbled about vegetarian diet. Once in a way she would gorge on fried fish or pork cutlets while I sipped a cool drink. Our visits to Hindu temples were tough for Lucy as her attire looked unacceptable (?), so she desperately needed a makeover to appear like a Hindu. Amidst chuckles and giggles we managed our temple visits. Nowadays foreign tourists are welcomed with garlands and drooling stares. Some temples in Kerala still ban tourists (non-Hindus) to be present near the sanctum sanctorum. Anyway God knows who must be sinners and who are not. No debates.

Safe Nocturnal Travels

We made it a point to travel only by night as buses were faster and trains were hassle-free. People were also generally genial and respectful, (hooliganism and eve-teasing have reached optimal levels today). Lucy was Maha-impressed with the spiritedness of south Indians. Take it any way you ingest it. I do not wish to endorse that south India is safe for women.
An out-of-the way experience at Madurai left us both impressed. One day we did go sight-seeing and shopping then we dumped the shopped items in the car. Around 7pm we reached our hotel to board another bus at 9pm. We parted with the cabbie who was pleased with the fares he pocketed and drove off humming a popular Tamil tune. A few minutes later we realized that the shopped goods were left in the cab. We frantically telephoned the cab owner who like all owners sounded helpful but was indifferent. Within an hour we were summoned at the reception to recognise the cabbie who gleefully grinned at our sullen faces

‘Madam you forgot these packets in the cab’.

We appeared so drained out  and stupid but this gesture looked like a vision. A thoughtful Lucy handed over a generous tip for his honesty but the cabbie refused. Incredible isn’t it ? Today cabbies are smarter. We make them.

Tailpiece: Travel but Travel safe!
{Thanks a ton or even more 'All my readers' ....will return with a new format}
Learn to appreciate and you will be appreciated.
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