When Strangers are Friends That Haven’t Met Yet

Have you ever planned a travel with people you haven’t met and hardly know? Well, I just did.

While this wasn’t the first time I traveled with strangers, this was definitely the first time I planned one. The others have been treks, planned and organized by trekking organizations.

In recent times, I have become extremely choosy about the people I travel with and sometimes I wonder if it’s reaching a point of being qualified as an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Friends and relatives have suddenly started showing a keen interest of traveling with me. Some are all set to join me in my next trip, wherever it is and at whatever time it is. So much so that I am becoming tight lipped about my upcoming travel plans. While they are my near and dear ones and I love them immensely, I am wary to go on a travel with most of them. Perhaps I am being judgmental or it’s my conscious/unconscious bias that’s leading me to make assumptions that aren’t true. I don’t know. Or, I am just being selfish and want to fiercely safeguard my travel experiences.

Ironically, I don’t feel the slightest hesitation when planning travel with people I don’t know that well, and even better if I have a faint idea about their travel history. Perhaps it’s the sense of adventure that comes along with the unknown, explains it all. Or, maybe the fact that genuine and authentic connections energize me to the extent that I am willing to take the risk. Travel in any form is an adventure and the people you travel with always add to that adventure, which could go either way – positive or negative.

So, it wasn’t surprising when I found myself bundling into a car on a Friday night along with four others – one of them was a fellow blogger, who I had met in person a few days ago, the rest were strangers. We were all set to travel to Kozhikode for the weekend.

[Note: Kozhikode is correctly spelt as Kōḻikōḍ and pronounced as ‘Ko-yi-kode’.]

Debdutta Paul, the fellow blogger, one of the few people I have been privileged to connect with through WordPress, was coming to Bangalore on work. He was planning a travel with his friend and invited me to join in. After some initial skepticism of whether it would be a good idea to tag along with a bunch of youngsters, I agreed to join in.

As we started planning together on where we wanted to go, not for a moment it felt like I was planning with strangers. It started off with some compromises to suit each other’s availability and choice of the place of travel. The fact that everyone was willing to bend a little to accommodate the other was reason enough for me believe that this was going to be a great travel group. It was decided that we would be going to Agumbe rain forest and then to Udipi over a weekend. Soon two more people (Debdutta’s friends) joined the group. The place of stay and all other details were worked out and we were all set.

Just a few days before the trip, we got to know Agumbe was not happening. Monkey Fever came on our way and Forest Department was not allowing entry to visitors. We were set on going somewhere and canceling the travel was out of question. That’s how Kozhikode was decided after ample amount of brainstorming based on various factors.

Kozhikode, as a place, doesn’t have much to offer other than the food, specifically their biryani. However, the great company made the travel totally worth every moment. The journey is always more important than the destination and the people you travel with can make or mar that journey. And, this journey has been one of a kind, all for the wonderful people I traveled with – something that I shall cherish forever.

What we did at Kozhikode? I’ll write about that soon…

Thought Provoking Rants

The hurt isn’t going away. It’s been more than a year but it keeps coming back, often provoked by some random happening – a photograph, a memory on Facebook, some mention of them by someone, and so on. Probably we were too close, perhaps more than we should have been.

Their behavior and the choices they made hurt me so much that I wish we were never part of each other’s lives. I wish I could erase all the memories. Most importantly, I wish I could get over this feeling of hurt. And this age of social media doesn’t allow things to be forgotten.

Surely they have their reasons and one hand cannot clap so there has surely been misses at my end too. Life is short. Why does it become so difficult to let bygones be bygones and move on fresh and anew? Human relationships are complicated and as they say once there’s a scratch, it will heal but the mark will remain.

I am trying to be a more spiritually oriented person. If that’s the path I want to follow why is this getting so difficult for me? Is this my ego? I am not sure, as the pain I feel is real. It keeps coming back to me how alienated I had felt; how I was pushed to one corner when I needed them the most.

I thought we were very close friends, so much so that they were part of me….but they didn’t care….they were ruthlessly insensitive and displayed no empathy. They judged me, judged everything I said….blamed me of unnecessary whining when I shared my feelings of desolation and loneliness. They even tried to associate a negative psychological condition with my state of affairs.

I thought I was sharing my intimate feelings with my very close friends. Aren’t you supposed to share such kind of things with friends? Aren’t you supposed to support your friend even at times when they are not very likable – if at all that was the case? Perhaps being an open book is not a good idea, even if it’s with your closest friends. It just makes you vulnerable.

Why did we allow things to go disarray? When things went so wrong why did they resort to chat-messages? What stopped them from giving me call and clearing things upfront? Why did they gang up and resort to Social Media instead? We’ve had disagreements many times in the past but it was just a matter of time before things would settle down without a trace. However, this one was different.

I am a very social person and have a couple of other close friends. So, ideally I shouldn’t miss them but I do. I remember them often, both in good and bad times. They have left a dent in my heart, a deep one that I am unable to heal. Today they connect with me to talk, again through text messages, about mundane things, perhaps in an effort to fix things. Not sure if they realize the hurt is really deep and I am still not able to overcome it. I respond whenever they connect while consciously maintaining a distance, sometimes just answering what they ask. I cannot be myself with them ever again. I can’t share my intimate thoughts and feelings with them anymore.

At the same time, I tell myself why can’t I?  We are not here forever and friendships are precious. But again a contradictory thought strikes – perhaps it’s better to move away from people who let you down and who have no regard for your feelings, especially when they have been your close friends who you have loved so dearly.

Yet one question haunts me – Why did we let our decade-long relationship collapse?

All said, time is the biggest healer so I am hopeful!

Provoke