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…