Travel has made me wiser. The fourth in a series of travel posts on creativbent

Travelling by my self I have had amazing experiences. My phobia of long flights was overcome when Margot came to my rescue. My anxiety of the ways of a different world was alleviated by a learning from Mother Nature herself. And what to say of companionship? It was available aplenty. All I needed to do was shed my inhibitions, don the mantle of a confident traveller and take off. Everything fell into place.

My first flight ever into the United States was extremely interesting as a District Judge and his wife were my travel mates from Amsterdam to Houston. I humbly admit, the spirit of the retired judge who seemingly had trouble with his gait, boosted my own. I repeatedly told myself that if an octogenarian could take the long flight, I could too. There was a motivation all the way!

And then there was the bus ride from NYC to beauteous Binghamton!

Everything seemed to be going great, the drive was amazing, starting with the Lincoln Tunnel to the exotic greens, the gorgeous flowers that added so much colour in their wild abundance on either side of the highway! And the most memorable of all deer scampering playfully at some spots of which I had a fleeting glimpse as the greyhound whizzed past miles of endless greens! My dream travel was rudely interrupted by an unexpected breakdown at an agonising juncture of my travel. A mere hour or some sixty miles separated Binghamton from me! How terrible!  That’s what I thought when I heard the driver’s announcement. But then what I felt later was happiness and gratitude for the fourth lesson of my travel experience, subtly given by a fellow traveller.

The lesson of humanity. The learning that humanity extends beyond borders and transcends barriers of country, ethnicity, geographic identity, the colour of the skin, the language one speaks and place of origin! As the initial delay of an hour transformed into two and beyond, daylight began receding and a nip in the air made me shiver. Coffee is what I ached, and coffee it was that I enquired about to a lady seated next to me on the public bench. In unfamiliar terrain and with little knowledge of the ways of that world I had opted to stay put, at a safe distance from the bus, not letting it out of my sight!

The gusts of wind made me shiver. Having flown in from a hot and humid clime, the temperatures were a little low for me. A fellow traveller sensed the discomfort of another. On learning it was my first ever trip to the US, my companion apologised for the inconvenience caused, though she was as much a part of the long wait as I was! As if to make good this unhappy experience, she did something that totally touched my heart, making me forget completely that I was in a new country, among strangers who lived an entirely different life. I heard her call for a pizza for herself and then calling out to me she said, “Can I order a coffee for you?”  Her offer couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. I thanked her immensely and the warmth of her gesture seemed to have taken away some chill. But her thoughtfulness did not end there. When the coffee arrived she wouldn’t let me pay for it. “It’s the least we can do to make you comfortable on the first trip. Let me make up for this unexpected occurrence!” she smiled. I was about to protest that it wasn’t a problem, when she added, “Don’t worry about it. It’s a small thing. Buy someone else, somewhere a coffee or a meal or something he needs.  And think of it as paying me!”

Tears of joy welled up in my eyes. Was I amongst strangers? Not really! I was with kind and compassionate humans who ensured that a visitor to their land had the best possible experience in their country!

Kindness and thoughtfulness have no religion! They speak the language of love and understanding!


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