Let’s go back in time. At the age of 5, my great grandfather told me “Razor ramon, (that’s what he called me) If you want to experience life as a never ending adventure, either read books or travel the world. If you get to do both, count yourself extra blessed”.
Thanks to him, I developed the habit of exchanging letters as well as reading stories at the age of 5. Reading my letters, my mother took me to a bookstore and bought me Oxford’s dictionary and taught me how to find the words and their meanings. I still remember how annoyed I was when she gave me an example for the word ‘abandon’.
A few years later, chess became my priority and this gave me an opportunity to travel. At the age of 14, I decided to pursue it more seriously and that meant I could play a lot of tournaments and travel around the world. I’m not a professional world traveller, but chess gives me a chance to explore new places between the gaps.
Just recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Budapest, Stockholm, Moscow and Reykjavik for the chess events. I wish to recall a few experiences of this trip and acquaint you a bit with my exploration.
A few days prior to the event, I had finished reading ‘The Art of Stillness’ by Pico Iyer. He believes that one could progress a lot just by going nowhere and by practicing being there, with one’s own self, doing nothing and being still.
His TED Talk https://www.ted.com/talks/pico_iyer_the_art_of_stillness will give you an overview of the concept.
On a busy street market near the Parliament in Budapest, I saw this person practicing the art of doing nothing. A lot of people used to pose next to him, get a photo clicked and dropped an euro or two in his box and bid bye to him. I observed him for a few moments and did my bit in making him happy 🙂
A few days later, I went to a museum and found him there as well. This time, he was preparing himself for the day and I got a chance to talk to him and understand what goes inside his mind while he is there.
He asked me not to take his picture as he was preparing to go into that zone. But, he did share a few things. He told me that some of the visitors bring in a positive vibe with them and that keeps him up even when he is about to quit or change the position. He is very happy when a kid approaches him because he uses this chance to change his position and pretend to scare the kid in a pleasant way. “Stillness comes with hours of focus on a particular aspect. It could be an object, an emotion, a thought or nothing at all” he said.
“The last bit is the toughest of all, because we go from nothingness to nothingness. Isn’t it?” he parted with those words and asked me to enjoy the museum.
I had a gap of four days before the next tournament in Moscow. I used this time to explore interesting places in and around Budapest. My friend Laszlo took me for walk on the hills. I was amazed that there was an entire group along with me, with a guide. We were walking in the memory of a guide who had passed away recently.
During the walk, I noticed that some people had got food for birds. They stopped and left some food for the birds.
While we were talking about cultures, he learnt a few Indian words and paid me back by teaching me some of the hungarian words. Whenever he met a stranger, he used to say “Yo na pot kivanok” (I wish you a good day) and the stranger would greet back “Yo na pot”
In one of our conversations, I asked him what was the secret behind his punctuality and he shared a story that taught him a lot. This story was told to him in the military circuit, while he was serving as a chemistry professor in the military.
Two teams decide to fight it out. Team A comes up with a plan to split themselves into two and attack the army by entering the territory by walking up the hill. While one set of soldiers proceed towards the territory by the hills, the other set of soldiers keep firing to deflect their enemy and keep the enemy busy. At exactly, 7.30, Team A is expected to reach the enemy’s territory and the other batch of this army is expected to stop the firing. Laszlo said that if their army members do not stop firing at 7.30, they will kill their OWN soldiers. “Time is life, it can cost you life! My friend. If I say that I will be there by 11 o clock, you can expect Laszlo to be there. I keep my word, my promises and time”.
Next, I met an accordionist who entertained the visitors at the Fisherman’s Bastion with music. He made an interesting confession, one that surprised me pleasantly.
“I look into the eyes of people, try to sense what they need and play accordingly. Most of the times, even the breath taking view from the Fisherman’s Bastion doesn’t stop them from listening to me.”
When asked if there was an unusual or unique experience in his life at the Fisherman’s Bastion, he said “I keep changing places but, I like it at Fisherman’s Bation. I have had people asking me if they could hug me. The cap that you see (shows his cap) is given by a stranger. I make sure that they go back with a smile”.
And during one of the stopovers, I stopped at stockholm and stayed in an apartment. The host was lively and interesting as a person. When asked about her life, she showed me her drawing and said “My life is just a seesaw between these two pictures”
Sometimes, it is this and sometimes …
and that she is trying to balance herself between the two creatures in her mind! The apartment was great. I loved browsing through the books on the shelf.
My last event was in Harpa, Reykjavik. I loved Iceland for its distinct features! It is known for its variety and attracts a lot of tourists these days, especially after the shooting of Game of Thrones. One of the words that I loved in Icelandic language is InnSaei. It means to see from within / the sea within. Intuition is the word that comes very close to InnSaei. After learning this word randomly, through a poster in the Laugavegur street, I googled it and came across an interesting documentary:
It is available on Netflix.
I love this world for all that it is and for all that it is not. With curious eyes, daring heart and a strong will, I have learnt that life has a way of its own and we can live and be. Travelling is a great way of learning life. Isn’t it? I met a lot of strangers, heard their stories and each of them has become a part of my existence in their own ways. They contribute to my experiences and shape the way I am, the way I see and perceive. Every new place that I have visited and explored has educated me. I’m grateful to God for having given this opportunity to do both : Read books and travel the world!
If I can do it, so can you 🙂 Say YES to life, Say YES to adventures.
Lufthansa can help you in your travelling endeavors and adventures 🙂