The Tale of the Friendliest Strangers and a Little Bit More

So I am not one of those people who makes friends easily. I take my own time. To get to know people. To become comfortable being who I am. So if you come meet me tomorrow, you’ll find this awkward, self-conscious girl who doesn’t know what kind of a face to make while looking at you.

So about a month ago, when I found myself in this strange country called Germany when I didn’t even know the language spoken there, I was intimidated. Okay, intimidated is a bit of an understatement to what I was actually feeling. Shit scared. I was alone. I didn’t really know anyone there. This was my first time outside India. So, yeah, I was bound to be scared.

To top it all off, I had NEVER, EVER taken a flight. So when I got into the flight to Dubai, I was a little lost. Yes, my friends had described to me how it is like inside the airplane. But I was still jittery. All I could do was observe what people did around me and do the same. But, to my rescue came this lady who sat besides me. She asked me if I was scared. I told her I was flying for the first time. She was this kind woman who talked to me. About nothing in particular. But talking to her made me feel calmer. I do not know her name. But I know I’m probably never forgetting her all my life.

I think I should now give you a little bit of a background on my situation. I had an economy class ticket all the way to Frankfurt. When I get to the Mumbai Airport, they tell me they don’t have my boarding pass for the flight from Dubai to Frankfurt. That there’s some problem with the system. I get to Dubai and I get a Business Class boarding pass as they are out of seats on the economy. I am happy. But as I enter the plane I find myself ever so more uncomfortable about Business Class. Because it’s all new again. The TV Screen, the remote control, everything.. Ahhhh!!! I was literally just about to pull at my hair in frustration.

And then comes this lady. All tall, long, blonde hair, nicely dressed, pink pumps, pink jeans, a nice silver top, a huge silver bag, face fully made up. Everything about her was either pink or silver. I looked down at my oversized yellow Jim Morrison t-shirt, worn out jeans, black and purple Pumas, hair in a knot. I had never felt so much out of place! But then she flashed me this huge smile and sat besides me and we talked. A lot. She was a Polish model who has been to tons of different places. She told me how it was at her shoots and at the fashion shows and how she hated all of it. And believe it or not, she was really fascinated at the fact that I was an engineer who did a job and most of all, the fact that I was an Indian. She had told me her name I think. I don’t remember it.

Then I get to Germany. A couple of days pass in a haze. And one day, at breakfast in my hotel I meet this Indian guy. I’m sitting alone, he’s sitting alone, so he just walks up to my table and we get to talking. He’s an Indian who’s lived in the US for more than 8 years and we talk about all the random things under the sun. After that day we met at breakfast everyday. He cooked dinner for me twice and I spoke to his wife and his kids and it was fun! He even introduced me to this friend of his. She’s an American and even we hit it off instantly. I’m friends with both of them on facebook today. And I know I’ve made two friends for life.

Then one day I go shopping. I really wanted to shop for boots and I found this place that had an awesome sale running on boots. So I look through the numerous racks filled with boots and finally come down to the two pairs of boots I like the most. I try the first one, go and check in the mirror. I like it. I try the second one, go to the mirror. I like this one too. I repeat this entire routine thrice and still I’m nowhere closer to a decision. This woman comes up behind me and says, “I think you should go for the pink one”. I turn around, thank her, buy the pink pair of boots and leave the shop. I don’t know her name but I have her to thank for  my kickass pair of pink boots. If it hadn’t been for her, I probably wouldn’t have bought anything because of my confusion.

I had a free weekend when I was in Germany and so I decided to visit Paris over the weekend. I get down the bus in Paris and I’m just looking around trying to decide what to do next. I hear these two voices talking in English. I see they belong to these two females, one young and one quite old. The younger one looks at me and says, “I saw you sitting alone at the cafe. If you want you can join us for breakfast”. And I spent the next two days with them! It was such fun!! I have about a hundred pictures with the two of them. And when we got to Germany we promised each other that we would become friends on facebook. I know her first name which is a pretty common American name. I do not remember her last name. And as for her Grandma, that’s what I called her the entire trip.

So here I am at the end of my trip having made a handful of good friends, but I get to keep only two of them. I’m probably never meeting any of them again. But it was fun meeting so many different people. And I’m glad that I was alone on that trip. If I had company, I would never have made these friends.

PS: Another friendly stranger that I’ve met here in the blogging world has offered me this award. Thank you Sheikh. Amna Rafiq. This means a lot to me.

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22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. El Guapo
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 22:30:23

    Fantastic!
    Check yo out – going from someone who’d never been on a plane, to a seasoned world traveller in the blink of an eye.
    Can’t wait to hear about your next adventures!

    Reply

  2. joetwo
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 22:55:38

    One of the best parts about travelling is finding someone new, a victim if you will, to talk to while you’re travelling. Far more fun than the in-flight movie!

    Reply

  3. sahbinahvioletflynn
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 23:02:12

    Wow! What an adventure…the power of kindness reigns supreme. Be kind to strangers, you may be entertaining angels unawares (it’s a Psalm, tho I don’t know which one). You are one lucky girl;o)

    Reply

    • Shalvika P
      Oct 02, 2012 @ 10:06:06

      Thank you so much! It indeed was an amazing adventure 😀
      And yes, when lost in a foreign country, even a smile from a stranger makes your day. 🙂

      Reply

  4. carolynpageabc
    Sep 30, 2012 @ 04:34:49

    How wonderful… What a great trip you had…!
    I really enjoyed reading that, Shalvika; you made it so exciting…. 🙂

    Reply

  5. elkement
    Sep 30, 2012 @ 16:56:59

    It’s great that you can turn the “travelling engineer lifestyle” into something inspiring. I have also worked as a project nomad for some years but my feelings were, say, mixed at the end. Greetings from a country adjacent to Germany 🙂

    Reply

  6. mistylayne
    Oct 01, 2012 @ 08:53:56

    Yay go you!! I remember my first flight on a big plane – I’d only ever flown in small planes and I was oddly terrified and was lucky enough to also have an incredibly kind woman sit next to me and talk to me the whole way. 🙂

    Reply

    • Shalvika P
      Oct 02, 2012 @ 10:09:49

      Hail all the kind women who sit besides us and talk to us!!
      Big planes just seem intimidating, but they are just the same as smaller planes. You need to experience it to realize that 🙂

      Reply

  7. Soma Mukherjee
    Oct 01, 2012 @ 17:58:58

    you took chance and it worked for you….and you are right you cant make friends paranoid bottled up…am so happy for you..
    and i remembered my first flight to Sydney via singapore…man i didnt have time for jitters,i was busy puking from Mumbai to sydney…made the journey so good for others..they still thank me

    Reply

  8. Barb
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 11:33:49

    What an adventure and inspiration. You go, girl!!

    Reply

  9. Trackback: Friday Foolishness – Gustatory Edition | Guapola
  10. Gigi wanders
    Oct 06, 2012 @ 06:40:47

    A very fun, engaging, and honest read.
    Thanks!

    Reply

  11. shoes
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 08:08:29

    Wow, what a fun and fulfilling adventure you had. It is great to find friendship in other traveling strangers. And how special that you get to hold on to a couple of them for much longer than your trip.

    Reply

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