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Stepping out of my comfort zone

As I finished exploring the beauty of Konark Sun Temple , I set out my journey back to Puri. Means of Transport? Obviously! The same little mini 20 seater bus where 50 people travel.

Luckily , there was a bus ready to leave , with empty seats towards Puri. I sat on a window seat and was waiting for the bus to leave. After a few minutes, a girl probably in her mid 20’s asked me if this bus goes to Puri. I said yes. She was wearing a cotton top, frock and a shawl and was surely not from that part of the state. When you are travelling solo, you get that adrenaline pump when someone travels solo.

So I was thinking if she might be a solo traveler , or might be a travel blogger. Just then I got reminded of Divya Rai of A borrowed backpack. She was my recent find, and I got really impressed by her travel blogs. Can this be her ?! And several other things were running into my mind. And thanks to my memory, I saw a sign in the temple today morning that, the temple was closed until 6 due to some function. The time now was around 3 pm. I wanted to convey this to her. By the time I look back at her, the bus was already crowded and there was no means to communicate with her.

The journey from Konark -> Puri was actually better than my onward journey. Since I got my window seat, the view was ecstatic and there was a stretch along the sea , which was so beautiful that I felt just like getting down the bus and spending a lifetime there.

The clear sand and beach with absolutely no crowd , just made it a beautiful sight.

One problem with Orissa in general was the language, Odia was more common than Hindi. I had struggle communicating with people and decided to not initiate the conversation..

So again back to our solo traveller girl , I was thinking whether to talk to her or not. I have trouble socialising and the fear of getting embarassed was high on me. All of a sudden this thought flashed my mind. I am almost 2000 kms away from my home , surrounded by complete strangers who do not understand my language. Even I get embarassed , who is to care? So I just decided to talk. This is the part where I break my comfort zone. So we reached Puri bus stand and everyone started getting down. As soon as I got down, I noticed her asking details on How to reach Puri temple from the bus stand. I pitched in , and the conversation goes as follows.

Me — Hey ! Hi.. Are you going to Puri temple?
Her — Yeah , Do u know the way?
Me — Umm yeah. We have to take the bus / auto from here. But the temple is closed till 6 pm today.
Her — Ohh ! Why?
Me — I have no idea! I visited the temple today morning and I saw the notification board over there.
She — Ohh !
Me — Btw, I am Akshay..
Her — I am Sithara..
Me — Are you a solo traveller? Are u travelling around east coast? *fully excited*
Her — Actually I am travelling solo. But I came to Bhubaneswar for my friend’s marriage and though I’d visit Puri and Konark. I am returning tonight.
Me — Oh nice. Where are you coming from?
Her — From Delhi! I work with L&T
Me — Ohh great! Is that your native?
Her — No! My native is Kannur in Kerala
Me — Ohh. I come from Coimbatore. Its very much near to Kerala.
her — /With a mixed reaction/ — Ohh where in Coimbatore?
Me- Previously we were at Ramnagar, but recently shifted to outskirts of the town.
Her- And where did you do your schooling?
Me — Kikani ( With absolute strange reaction as I dont know where this is heading! )
Her — Ohhh! I am from Coimbatore too. And I stayed in ramnagar until I completed my college.. I did my schooling at Suburban Matric. (For those who dont know these are the two popular schools in that area )
Me — (Not believing what I just heard!) WHAAT!!
Her — Also your face is familiar. Maybe we’ve met before!
Me — Yeah! After all we lived in the same locality.

This is how I met a girl , who lived in the same locality as mine, for almost 15 years, 2000 kms from my hometown! With still not believing what just happened, she broke the ice!

She asked me , “Why are we still talking in English!”

Thats when I realised , Oh yeah we share the same language! Almost 8 th day of my tour , I havent spoke a single word in Tamil with anyone. It was a bliss talking in tamil after such a long time!

So neenga enga college paneenga?

After a bit of talking about Coimbatore , and exchanging information about ourselves, we got along pretty well.

It was a small world indeed. I was amazed at how a chance meeting on a bus journey could lead to such a serendipitous encounter. We exchanged contact information and promised to keep in touch. As I said goodbye to her, I couldn't help but feel grateful for the travel bug that had brought us together. I knew that this was one journey I would never forget.

[Originally written in Medium]



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