Home > Friends, Travel > Backpacking buddies – 2

Backpacking buddies – 2

Continuing from here, in Nelson I caught up with Jess again and exchanged email ids. We exchanged a few emails when she described her trip to the glaciers in Franz Josef and her Queenstown (I should write a separate post about it) adventures. But then, after two mails, none of us bothered to continue the conversation. But yes, she’s the girl I will remember best in the 3 months. The next morning I spoke to Scott a Kiwi sheep marketer from Dunedin. In his free time, he works as an evangelist. He was in Nelson, cheering for his kid who plays hockey. He explained the need for everyone to become a true Christian. He tells me India is suffering because there are so many non-Christians and that he would like to work there to change it all. When I counter that a lot of white folks believe less in religion and more reason, he says that that’s because they don’t know the truth. I firmly believe that if we be nice to people and not do harm as much as possible, there is no need for religion.

After Nelson, my next trip was across the Tasman Sea. The Aussies are not as friendly as the Kiwis. But friendly travellers are welcome everywhere. Madhan has got such a warm face that he can start talking to anyone anywhere. In the Indooroopilly shopping centre where we went on the first evening, he spoke to a couple of Tamils who had hopped over from Auckland just like me. I learn a lot from him about hospitality and camaraderie.

Though I spoke to a few people during the course of my 36hour whistle stop in Sydney, the one person who left a lasting impression on me met me at the Central railway station. I was awaiting my CityRail to the domestic airport. Let me call him John. I had confirmed with him that the platform I stood on was the line to the airport. He looked drunk. His first lines were “So you Indians are getting all the jobs and sending us all out?” I dismissed him as one of those outsourcing critics and told myself to be careful of him. But he continued and told me he had an Indian wife! He had fought for the Aussie military and was generally dismissive of politics, but he was a hard-core Indophile at heart. He repeatedly told me to work for the betterment of the Indian majority and not be swayed by money. We sat next to each other on the train. He described his experience in Afghanistan and wished me heartily.

I had a late flight from Sydney to Brisbane and Madhan and Sudar were busy preparing their stall at the Brisbane Multicultural Festival, which is a fascinating experience by itself. There was no public transport at 9.30pm from the airport and so I had to take my only taxi of the trip. It was all Madhan’s money, but still I would never take a taxi in a foreign country when there is public transport. For no reason, I am apprehensive of taxi drivers. I managed to break ice with the Somalian taxi driver. My little bit of geography about the capital Mogadishu got me talking more nicely with him. He knew about Hyderabad more than any other place in India. He was telling me how Somalia has been ravaged by war and there are a few Indians in his country too. I asked him if he’ll go back there. Not when there’s so much war there, he replied. He also told me Somalia has got a little bit of history being so close to Ethiopia and the drive by the sea is so beautiful. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a Somalian coin.

The multicultural festival is where I met an Indonesian student. He was a finance student who planned to do his MBA. He was like a typical Indian graduate student overseas, using his dad’s money and education loans to study abroad, hoping to make enough money in a few years to break even and return to his home country to be respected and make it to the higher society class. He helped me use my camera better. We promised to exchange emails, but never did.

In Fiji, I met an Austrian girl who was out exploring the world on her round trip and a German guy out to get his diving licenses in the most beautiful reefs of the world (it works out to be cheaper too). But the Fijian captain of the SeaSpray (my sailing boat) insisted on converting me and we had a prolonged conversation about faith and the only God. My thin knowledge on Hinduism did not help me much and I hardly could talk anything. I should have had better ammunition to counter these pastors or priests!

One more post on this and I would be done, I hope!

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Categories: Friends, Travel
  1. sk
    11 January 2007 at 8:29 pm

    You must be an total extrovert, I cant gather courage to talk to complete strangers, only if they do :–)
    And oh these religious fanatics! :–(
    My take on this is simple, and probably the same as yours,
    Religion is just a road to God, different people take different roads, but the final destination I believe is the same. Thank God for secularism in India.

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