Foot Trails

Magic in language barriers and random acts of Kindness!


“When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak. So you are like a child just out of the womb. You begin to be more accessible to others because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. And you accept any small favor from the gods with great delight, as if it were an episode you would remember for the rest of your life.
‘At the same time, since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them, and you feel happy to be alive. That’s why a religious pilgrimage has always been one of the most objective ways of achieving insight. The word peccadillo, which means a “small sin,” comes from pecus, which means “defective foot,” a foot that is incapable of walking a road. The way to correct the peccadillo is always to walk forward, adapting oneself to new situations and receiving in return all of the thousands of blessings that life generously offers to those who seek them.”

This is an excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s  Pilgrimage. How apt these words are to describe the journey I recently undertook. The travels we do, the strangers we meet, the experiences we have on the path define us who we become.

I was travelling in a train for a night journey from Kanyakumari to Salem; in my compartment a mother-daughter and their family friend were present. Seeing me travelling alone the mother got curious and started enquiring where am going, from where I belong and what do I do. We had a language barrier and the man travelling with them acted as a translator. The daughter away on a phone call was not part of this conversation. Soon we found out that am also travelling to the same destination as theirs. The mother got very excited at this co-incidence. For me; it was very okay and normal… that strangers in a train going to the same station. Well few talks here and there now with the daughter as well; we became a little more comfortable and this was the most that I talked to any stranger on this entire trip. Then the mother said, “I wish you could come and visit our place”. I simply nodded. (Normally these are the things people say but don’t mean them; specially coming from strangers you just met.) As we talked; I told them that I have a day’s work there and am staying in a hotel. At this, the mother insisted that I must stay at their home and shouldn’t go to the hotel. Don’t know; what made me say YES… But I did say yes. Morning when we reached our station; I went with them and stayed with complete strangers met 12 hours before in a train. I can’t even describe the warmth and love I received in that one day. I experienced a sense of knowing-ness and familiarity that one feels with the closed ones. I don’t know if I can ever repay the love and generosity they showered on me so selflessly. Don’t know what I had done to receive so much of love and respect. I am humbled.

My yummiest  idli-dosa experience. Also mentioned in the previous post – Going Solo about this on my visit to a village in Ramanathpuram. This is a place where my teacher once learnt from his teacher. I landed in there as a stranger and unannounced and was still welcomed heartily. As we had a language barrier; our hearts connected faster. I was fed with so much of love that I actually ate greedily. 🙂

I had to catch a midnight bus from the small town of Tiruvanamalai. Unknown town, unknown language, and late in the night! While waiting for the bus on the almost deserted road and mostly only men around; I was cursing myself. What was I thinking when I booked the bus ticket at this hour. Still an hour left for the departure; I asked one  security guy standing near by to confirm if the bus leaves from here. Ofcourse we couldn’t talk the same language. I showed him the ticket and he spoke few broken english words here and there. He said, “No bus leaves from here. You have to go to the bypass, all buses to Bangalore go from there.”  I was standing on the mentioned address in the ticket. And it was 11 in the night. Now there was another man standing near by who was listening to this conversation and was curious to help. I was getting a little wary whether to trust them or not. Finally I decided to let go of the bus which i had booked. This other guy escorted me to the government bus depot near by and helped me find the bus to Bangalore. I thank millions to this soul.

I don’t want to analyze the ifs and buts of the situations but am thankful that I have had these experiences in life. That’s what life is made of… these little stories one picks up along the path.


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