I don't know if you can relate with it or not, but I am always advised by my family and friends to be careful with strangers while travelling – don’t trust anyone blindly, don’t volunteer to take responsibilities of people unless they are your really close friends, do not follow their trails or actions, and what not!
And you see, I can't even blame them for anything as they only wanted me to have less troubles. It's not very far from truth that we can't open up to be friends with everyone we meet. But I must admit, had I universally applied this to every situation in my life, I wouldn't have made the memories that I now so fondly cherish and happily share with the same family members and friends.
I remember how open-heartedly you let me couch surf at your place in Alleppey even though it was undergoing renovation and you were not accepting any booking requests at the time. My taste buds still recall the delicious and wholesome breakfast you prepared for me at your cosy home in Kanyakumari, that you charged me nothing for. I can't ever forget how you decided to take a detour, got off the bus with me only to make sure I got an auto and reached my hostel in Varkala safely. Only my heart knows what could have happened had you not invited me to stay at your home in Nagwain when our bus got stuck due to landslide amid heavy rains in Himachal.
Not just this, you inspired me to complete the Dhankhar lake trek I thought I'd never be able to. You taught me so many new techniques to get those wonderful landscape shots when I was struggling with my camera in Nainital. You drew a map for me so accurately that I didn't even have to ask anyone for directions in Kochi. I am not sure whether I'd have walked right under that waterfall in Shangarh, had you and your friends not pushed me to. And yes, I remember how your innocent smile while posing for some 'candids' with your tiny schoolbag simply made my day.
These are just handful of many unforgettable experiences I've had with you and I consider myself lucky that you were by my side despite being, as they say, a complete stranger. Come to think of it; even the closest of friends are strangers at some point, aren't they? The only difference is that they allow each other to fit in, be a little more patient and not let their presumptions overpower their basic human instinct - to love and be good to each other.
Also, I won't mind admitting the fact that all our meetings weren't as pleasant and worth-remembering as we'd like them to be, but so is the case with everything in life too. So just like I don't stop living fully after two or three bad experiences in my life, I won't stop myself from opening up to you either, whenever I meet you again. And it's okay to move on.
I am not the first and I'll not be the last, but I am sure we have left each other with some memories and experiences that would make us happy whenever we share them with anyone, anywhere. After all, happiness is only real when shared, isn't it?
Last but not the least, I want to thank you for teaching me to trust people and not lose hope, for these are the two most significant takeaways I have had from you, Stranger. And I'll make sure I keep them with me for all the adventures to come.
Hope we meet soon!
A fellow traveller
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