28th May 2015 – Bled, Slovenia
Life is not spontaneity or coincidence, I’ve always been told.
Its a matter of meticulous planning, and hard work.
Maybe true, but not always, as I found out today.
That fateful coincidence laughed at me again, and did his smirk.
I am a huge fan of couchsurfing, and I have wrote about it multiple times before. But my faith in couchsurfing as a platform that connects humans, was restored once again today, because of 3 wonderful anecdotes with 3 beautiful people. One was a story of humanity, another of spontaneity and another of sheer coincidence.
Last night, me and the Roxannes went to the weekly couchsurfing meet up in Ljubljana, in the STA travel cafe. It reminded me of the CS meet up in Bangalore, and when the small group of 10 people gathered up, we all started introducing each other. I was from India, and seated next to me was Kashif, a business traveller from Faisalabad. And if you are wondering, that is Pakistan!
The whole group went tense, as they understood that there were 2 people from India and Pakistan – 2 fiercely rival countries – here in their midst. They watched us eagerly, to see when we would start fighting.
And what did we do? We started talking about cricket, about our common visa problems, about how much we wanted to visit each other’s countries, exchanging hugs, and planning our next meeting in some other Eastern European city.
And then, we calmly explained to the Slovenian crowd, that our governments may be at war, but we only have love and respect for each other. To their utter dismay.
Tina was a Slovenian couch surfer who had offered to host me. While I couldn’t stay with her, because I was already staying with the Roxannes, we agreed to meet up for breakfast. We met at 10 AM today, since she had to go to work by 2 PM. While I sipped my coffee, she asked when I was going to lake Bled. I said I wasn’t. I was running out of time, and had to get to Budapest tomorrow. And frankly, I was a little lazy to take the bus trip to Bled.
“YOU CANT LEAVE SLOVENIA WITHOUT VISITING BLED!!”, she exclaimed. She looked at her watch, and said the most spontaneous thing I have ever heard.
So, here I was, with a woman I met just 5 minutes ago, driving in her car to Lake Bled, which was a good 60 KM away. We rushed there, continued our breakfast by the beautiful lake, and then rushed back the 60 KM, in time for her work at 2PM. I had just met someone as crazy as me.
Harish was an Indian student in Ljubljana, who had previously offered to host me when he was in Chennai during my motorcycle trip through India. I couldn’t meet him then, because I was staying with my brother. But I recognised him instantly when he sent me a couch offer for Ljubljana. I couldn’t stay with him again, because I was with the Roxannes, but this time, we agreed to meet up in the evening.
I had just returned home from the Lake Bled trip, and was smoking a cigarette on the balcony. On the next balcony of the neighbouring apartment, was a girl who looked Brown enough to appear very Indian, hanging her washed laundry. And her clothes were very colourful, exotic. Indian. I couldn’t resist.
“Excuse me“, I shouted across the balcony. She turned back, confused, at the sight of a creepy-looking Indian guy trying to have a conversation across the balcony.
“I couldn’t help but notice your clothes. Are you from India?“
She was still in dismay. “No. I am from Pakistan“
Well, I could never tell the difference. We looked similar anyway.
“But my housemate is from India“, she continued.
“Oh really? Which part of India?” I asked.
“Chennai.” She said.
“Is his name Harish?” I had a gulp in my throat.
“YES!!! How did you know?!!“
“I’ll be there in a bit“.
And I walked over to their apartment. Just next door to mine.