Gypsies wandered the world sharing one experience after another, gripping the audience with objects and stories of people they’d met along the way. Call it a folklore or myth; gypsies were often termed as magicians. Spinning the world around with their words and an aura you could not help but be a part of. Ever since those days of Yore, many a soul wanted to explore the ends of the earth, wanting to experience a life worth documenting. Even the concept of nirvana found its way in. Elusive turned illusive and many embarked on different shores to seek stories. What the Gypsies did not tell us was that you cannot have these experiences by choice. One chances upon these gems and stories stumble upon your lap. And even if it’s not a life changing experience, the smiles these happenstances bring on your face are nothing short of magical. The following are stories of people I’ve stumbled upon in my short travelling stint.
25 minutes. A girl. And many more what ifs.
There are many jokes circling around the incompetence of Air India. And now, I can say, RIGHTLY SO. I had an 8am flight to Delhi. So, around 7 am, I reached the Domestic Airport at Mumbai. Groggy and hungry, I showed my ticket to the cop standing there, waiting to get in and have a cup of hot coffee. To my amazement and his, he exclaimed that you’re supposed to board the flight from the International Airport. Shocked and about to hit the panic button, I saw her – fair, around 5ft 4 inches, curled hair tied in a bun, going through the same emotions. We exchanged a look and halted the first auto rickshaw we found and asked him to speed along. In silence, we rode. Until the driver said he will have to put us in another auto rickshaw as he was not wearing uniform and will be fined if caught. The rains had decided to play salt by now. The muddy potholes were playing injury. And together they splashed their wrath on my white shirt. She cursed the driver for not being careful and we reached just in time. Before boarding, we exchanged our reasons to go to Delhi. Then we discussed professions. Then we discussed both the cities. We were getting to know each other. A weird first date if you ask me. And all this without exchanging names. We boarded. Sat on different seats and met again at Delhi, waiting to hail a cab. Richard Linklater’s two epic movies were playing in my head. She got a cab and offered a lift. As fate would have it, I had to attend a meeting and was on the other side of the town. We held each other’s gaze. Hers said Only If. Mine said What if.
When the world was hazy, James said “I SEE YOU”
Delhi offers you an old world romance. The best food. And a culture that’s rich at every corner. But the capital of the city has one major problem – erratic weather. And if you’ve flown to Delhi during winters, you would have met my arch-enemy – The Dreaded Fog. This demon had already landed me in Jaipur instead of Delhi once, and when I had to return home to Mumbai, it came back to sting me with its secret weapon – Zero Visibility. So, that was that. No visibility. Flights cancelled. No accommodation. Costa Coffee was playing God that day, welcoming all. Never before had I seen the café full at 2 am in the morning. While all the smaller tables were taken, I sat at a table for 6 reading a book. That’s when a teenager came along and asked if he could charge his laptop there. He sat next to me and started watching Avatar on his laptop. He offered me to watch it if I wanted to, and without having second thoughts, I shut my book. Before you know it, 5 of us were watching the movie, sipping coffee, eating muffins. It took another world to bring this one together. Pandora was right here inside a coffee shop.
You know where the UFO landed? GOA
Not many can boast of a wonderful experience had because of someone who does not exist. 4 of us on two bikes. Mission: Light Tower at North Goa. Time: 10.30 pm. Neither of us had been to the Light House before. Following wrong directions, we rode our bikes uphill a dingy rocky road with no streetlights. At the end of the road stood a mansion that looked haunted. Ruffled leaves and movement around the bushes were good enough to scare the Bejesus out of us. One of us, Rohan, in particular was petrified and we decided to rub it in. And the freaky events that followed simply added to the fun. A black cat came under his bike and disappeared. The street light conked off once he rode past it. We asked him to pray to avoid any further trouble. Around 11 pm, in the middle of the road, Rohan knelt down and prayed in the direction of a church. Petrified we went to the shack for dinner. The candle flame on our table began to flicker only to die down later. Of all the tables there, ours was the only table with no candle light. Rohan could not sleep that night. And we could not stop laughing.
The Gypsies have landed in Goa
If you ever visit North Goa at the fag-end of the season, you’d be heavily outnumbered by the foreigners present there. The following two incidents still remain the high points of all my endless visits to the land of beaches. The first one was at Baga beach. A huge pit was dug in the sand and candles were kept around the circle with a bottle of empty beer placed right next to each candle. It was some festival where all of them were singing songs in their local language and dancing around that circle. Alien to them and their culture, I was simply sipping on my beer with a wide grin on my face. A fine young lady approached me and my girl and pulled us to join them. Even a non-dancer like me reveled in this festivity and danced and drank till the wee hours of morning. Even the best pubs in town will never be able to match that.
The second experience came in at dusk at Small Wagator beach. This old man around 50 came out of the sea and settled himself in the adjoining beach bed. Soon, he took out his guitar and began playing it. Soon enough, he was joined by his weed smoking friends and they began singing. It was some song he had played in Leopold Brussels, he mentioned later.
As the sun was retiring for the day, the Gypsies were rising to the occasion. Travelling to all parts of the world. Singing songs. Telling stories. Continuing to amaze us. Continuing to weave magic.