Every day that you live is a blind date with the world. You never know what will come tomorrow. All you can do is live each of them to the fullest. I might not be forever around but whenever you will go out and see the world just remember in all those places that I visited I left a part of me for you to find it and make it your own. Every time you visit a new place It’s like a blind date. Be a traveler and not a tourist. Make a Bucket List, Travel to Explore…Meet people…Speak to them…Live the culture…Eat their food…Celebrate their festivals…Hear their stories…Trust your instincts and the world will be your home and while you are there become one of them. Go and live your passion and #SayYesToTheWorld.
I reminded myself of these words from my father, as I was about to board the flight to a location in Southeast Asia.
It was a pleasant morning and the sky was bright and clear with some scattered white clouds losing their way to home. I thought of taking a nap instead of watching reruns of the pre-installed TV programs and movies as a part of the in-flight entertainment system.
About 30 minutes into the air, the flight started shaking. For a moment or two, I thought this was regular turbulence. But it started to get worse and felt terrible. By my calculations, we should have been over the Indian Ocean. I looked outside the small airline window. The plane was amidst real dark treacherous clouds. There were continues flashes of lightning complemented by resounding thundering. It was something that I had never experienced before.
It was not a nice feeling, the plane was going up and down like a roller coaster and it seemed as if it was already beyond the control of the cockpit crew. I tightened the already fastened seat belt and held onto anything possible. I had this strong eerie feeling that this might be the last trip that I am taking…’I-am-about-to-die’ – the sensation came all over me.
Things started coming off. The plane was beginning to lose chunks of its wings. The overhead luggage started falling here and there. There were shrieking prayers, crying children, hugging families and dying souls. Even the crew was holding on to seats for their lives.
Suddenly a huge flash of light hit the plane. The whitening effect was so bright and blinding that nobody was able to see anything henceforth. I closed my eyes and remembered my loved ones for the last time.
In a couple of minutes, everything went silent. The plane had stopped trembling and the skies had suddenly cleared. In fact, it was clearer than ever before. An unknown force was pulling the plane vertically downwards. The movement felt as if the plane was being maneuvered and controlled from outside. It was slow enough not to cause panic anymore. It finally landed.
The uproar and screaming had mellowed down and was replaced with the tears of joy. Nobody was concerned, including the crew, about what this place was. Everybody just was happy to be alive, breathing and on land. The exit gates finally opened.
The moment I got out the first thing that I saw was a huge snow covered mountain in the backdrop of the landscape. My initial thought was how the hell did they end up making an airport at such a precarious location. Still not completely recovered from our disastrous experience I took each step with caution. I was finally on the unknown land.
There was a crew, which had lined up to receive us and was dressed up in silvery crimson uniform and in a material that I had never seen before, forget about wearing it. Something was peculiarly odd about them. I felt that my senses aren’t in the right condition and hence I was feeling so.
I was not sure whether they would understand my language and still gave it go and asked one of the members, “What place is this? Where are we?”
The person didn’t respond immediately. After proper consideration, she said, “Sir, please follow us. The authorities will answer your queries. We are only allowed to receive you and take you to them”. Her sentences were not flowing…she was speaking word by word without any connotation and tonality as if she had just learned the language.
We walked into the ultra-modern glass structure surround by surreal picturesque natural beauty. We reached a cabin and entered after she did a retina scan. She asked me to sit and wait for the person from the authority. I was feeling scared, lost and thirsty but was too intimated to ask for anything. I quietly sat down.
Someone entered the room. She (I thought so) was tall, bald but had strikingly shiny spotless skin. She was also dressed up in that material, with teal being the only difference instead of crimson.
Before she could say anything, I questioned, “Ma’am! What place is this? Where are we?” ‘Would it be a good idea to ask for some water’, I thought.
She pressed a button; a small portion in the wall separated and a glass of water came out in a tray. I was confused to have it but too thirsty to actually have a choice.
She said, “Hi Sir! Please calm down and have some water. You are safe here. You are in a parallel Universe and this is Planet U or Utopia – an exact replica of the Planet Blue. We were transporting something through our teleportation beam, which was left exposed for some extra milliseconds and that’s how your plane got entrapped in that energy field and you all landed here. Please don’t worry about anything. No harm would be done to anyone.” She too was speaking in a word-by-word format. I was still wondering whether I asked for water loudly and missed half of what she said. I really wanted to ask, “Why are you speaking like that?”
“Sir, we don’t speak here on this planet. We only read minds. All our communication is telepathic, though no one stops us from using words, we believe in saving energy of all kind.”
In shock and awe, I picked up the glass of water with trembling hands and started having it. It was the freshest of liquid I ever had. It did calm me down.
She continued, “I am your chaperone till your stay on our planet. I will be here 24*7 and you just have to remember me and I will be happy to help. We are trying to arrange for your travel back to Planet Blue, till then please consider this as your home. Would you like to have some food or would you like to rest for a while?
I knew that my time was limited here and since it was an unknown land, I wanted to make the best of it. I would like to see some places while I am here.
“Definitely Sir. Let me make it easy for you. I know the geography of your Planet and since it is similar we should visit the places you might not be easily able to visit on your planet. We don’t have countries or any borders here on this Planet. You can simply walk and hop on from places to places. For your reference I will use the name of the places that are there on the Planet Blue”, she further added.
“Whatever you get on your planet you will get the same here, may be better. Everybody sees the renowned locations what if I show you places of your own world and make you experience things that will leave you speechless”, she said with a wide smile.
I agreed and said, “Yeah! That’s a wonderful idea. People usually visit those known wonders of the world. Please take me to places which I haven’t been to and let me experience those hidden pleasures and locations.” I handed her a list of places and countries I have been to.
She got up from her seat and signaled me towards a gallery. After the exit, there was a translucent blue colored vehicle without any wheel. It was about 2 feet in the air and it worked on a technology, which depended on the magnetic field of their planet.
For the first time in my life, I was witnessing something as strange as this. Obviously, I had to be the pillion rider of this supersonic vehicle. She asked, “From where would you like to start?”
“I thought you could read the mind”, I replied with a grin and held the backrest tight.
We reached our first destination. Very few Indians can claim that they have experienced something like this. I was viewing Kashmir and its snow-covered peaks from the Pakistan side. It was a mesmerizing sight. I knew I had to see a lot and couldn’t afford to spend too much time at a single location.
Our next destination was the ancient city of Kandahar in Afghanistan. It is a beautiful city. We visited the Blue Mosque and did take out time to try out some of the Afghani bread. The locals were playing the Pashto tunes and some of them were surprisingly dancing to them as well. We too joined in. She did have a humane side to her irrespective of her artificial appearance.
We then headed further north to Almaty. Flying over the Tien Shan Mountains was a sight I would take to my grave. You can find the last wild apple forest in the world there. In fact, Almaty gets its name from that only – it means ‘Father of Apples’. We decided to pluck a few and have them sitting next to the tranquil Big Almaty Lake.
Next came the place of Vodka and stunning women – Russia. After tasting some of the finest Vodkas and getting our spirits high we headed over to the Altai Mountains and Lake Baikal. There was no point in spending too much time in those chilling deserted forests of Siberia and we decided to move on.
We reached Georgia – Balcony of Europe. She took me to Mtskheta – a Unesco world heritage site. We met some of the most incredible and warm people in the world. A family hosted a dinner for us; prepared some ‘Khachapuri’ and served some of the finest homemade wine, one can ever taste. We decided to take some rest there.
Next, we headed to Armenia – a country that lost about 1.5 million people in one of the worst genocide in human history and still home to the friendliest people around. It is also home to the oldest winery in the world. It was worth every sip along with ‘Lavash’ – their awesome bread that has successfully found its way in the Unesco list of intangible cultural heritage.
She then took me to Turkey to show some of the most unrealistic views. ‘Cappadocia’ for its hot air balloon experience against the backdrop of a spellbinding landscape. Then she took it a notch higher; we visited ‘Pamukkale’ – the land of thermal pools – the mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces on a nearby hillside.
Our next stop was Greece and we started with the ancient city of Acropolis, Athens before heading to one of the most visually stunning Greek islands – Santorini. No trip to Greece is complete without visiting Mykonos – the Ibiza of Greece.
We then crossed the Dead Sea and headed to a place surrounded by conflicts and chaos – Jordan. It is so amazing that it is a world in itself. After visiting the historic ancient treasures like Petra and Jerash, we went for a true Bedouin experience – camping in the middle of Wadi Rum in yurts made out of wool and gazing at the stars.
We crossed the entire stretch of Sahara desert before heading to the most unique location of the Planet. You don’t realize the perfidious breadth of the desert until you actually fly over it.
I had previously covered a lot of Europe and hence requested her to take me to Iceland. It is a different planet altogether. From geography to topographical features, all are vividly peculiar compared to the rest of the world. She said you are lucky this time of the year and we were able to witness the Northern Aurora.
We moved on to another colder region, spotting a rare polar bear, the home of maple syrup – Canada. There is nothing that would amaze you once you visit Iceland but every sight has its own charm and there is nothing like standing in mist from the Niagara Falls.
We then proceeded towards the land of ‘Mayans’ in the state of Yucatan in Mexico. They are considered to be one of the most intelligent and advanced ancient civilizations. The heart of their culture was in ‘Chichen Itza’. You can also try the Yucatecan food for its Mayan influences.
Everybody speaks about Belgium chocolates – The Mexican ones are equally good. Don’t forget to try a pint of Mexican beer and their tequila – in fact, it is the official drink of the country.
If you are a believer in Aliens and in the fact that they have surely visited the Planet Blue pay a visit to Machu Picchu in Peru, to know what they were really capable of. It is also known as ‘Lost City of the Incas’ and a Unesco world heritage site too.
It was time to head over to the so-called peculiar lands – Australia and New Zealand. They are unique in their habitat, vegetation, animals and nearly everything.
Both of us had a spoon full of Manuka honey – produced by bees rummaging on the flowers of the Manuka tree, a very special tree that only grows in New Zealand. We hogged to some Kiwi fruit before traveling to catch the Southern Lights at Lake Tekapo. It is as majestic and surreal as the Northern Aurora.
If you want to see a white shark or a deadly poisonous snake then Australia is the place to be. Along with its beauty, the eccentric nature of the land has given birth to some really strange animals and features – especially the Great Barrier Reef – the largest coral reef system.
She suggested we should return, as it has been already so many days that we were missing from the base and by now they might have worked out the system for my safe return.
I had lost all count of time…day and night…was awestruck and hypnotized in the entire splendor of the planet and above all her magnificence and simplicity.
She wanted to show me one last place and then head back. We parked our vehicle and decided to take a stroll on the Great Wall of China while sipping at some of their potent teas including the most expensive of them all – The Panda tea. It would have been unfair if we just had Panda tea without actually paying them a visit.
We got back on our vehicle and started on the journey back. She said, “Remember the mountain that you saw when you landed. That was Mt. Everest.”
Sitting at the top of it and knowing that everybody else is below you is a pretty ‘high’ feeling in itself. We sat there and chatted for a while before returning to the base.
The next day it was time for me to go back from this enriching experience. A lump formed in the middle of my chest. She was there with her effervescent smile to guide me back to the restored plane. I knew no matter how much I see the world now it would be incomplete without her.
People say that they have made a Bucket list but I can proudly say that I made #TheBlindList
For all those who love to Travel,
For all those who believe in Blind Dates,
For all those who Travel to Explore
For all those who are openminded
For all those who #SayYesToTheWorld
For all those who love #TheBlindList
It’s not a Goodbye…
But It’s a GOOD BYE.
Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul
Watch the Video and Fall in Love with the World again