Travel – One year and the journey continues

  • Post category:Travel / Volunteering
  • Reading time:7 mins read
Plitvice lakes, Croatia
Beautiful time to visit Plitvice lakes, Croatia

It was one fine beautiful cold morning in the city of Munich, when a decision happened to me. That decision was, as some of the readers know already, to leave my job and do something else. I am sure, that day must have been beautifully cold to for such a decision to happen. I had no clue that day, what I would do after I leave my job. But, I was fully aware and confident of the fact that there would be new doors and new paths that I would find, once I leave my room. More than a year later, sitting by the coast of Adriatic sea, I can say for sure that there were doors, paths, forests, rivers, oceans, mountains, snow, rain, new people, new places and many new experiences that opened for me. All it needed was to take one step out of my room. Many things happened in this year, few of them I wrote already, few I did not, while some I am not able to find a way to write it in words. Those moments could only be experienced. Those feelings could only be felt and those smiles could only be shared.

A park around Verona, Italy
A park around Verona, Italy

When I started this journey, I did not know, where to go and what to do. But I knew that slowly, I would find my way or may be I should say way would find me. I just kept on taking turns as they came to me. Sometimes, there were forks on the path, the choices that needed to made. I made my choices, took my decisions and I feel that so far those choices I made on those junctions took me to the right path. The feeling is so good, that I do not even think about “what would have happened, if I had taken the other path”. However, that maybe because I spent most of my life with the same attitude. I had not decided any timeline for my travel, but initial economy based estimate was for about 1-2 years. However, as I travelled, I found that there are options that can make it possible for many more years. Today, after 1 year and 3 months when I look back, it does not seems like such a long time. It feels like, I started my journey only few months ago.

Lunch in italian alps
Lunch in Italian Alps

During this journey, I had many experiences. I hiked at different mountains, in different countries. “Jumped ” into sea and bathed under waterfalls. I used jumped as highlighted, as just going into the sea where my feet do not touch the ground was a amazing feeling. I need to wait to find when I really jump into the sea. I biked long enough to kill my bum for 2-3 days and walked long enough that my legs needed rest for 3-4 days. I met many different people, got invited by strangers at their home, to share a meal, to share some conversations and smiles. Learned about many things including, stone walls of Croatia, cheese from salt eating sheep, how to bring a donkey back home, about ceramic making, few things about gardening and plants, different ways of re-using things and avoiding waste, learned little bit languages of people, learned about different festivals and different ways of celebrating same festivals. I learned how people find different ways to keep themselves busy, different ways to fortify their own believes. I learned how almost everyone thinks about why others cannot do as they do. I learned about new sikhism and traditions, met people dressed with “Om” and other eastern texts/symbols, hugged people with saying “namaste” in more formal way than I ever did in India. I became kind of a single ambassador of such a big country. People ask me about Shiva, Kali, temples and traditions that I did not hear before. I met people chanting some sanskrit shlokas while the others would greet me with As-salamu alaykum!

Saving grifons in Croatia
Save the Grifons

I noticed differences between people based on location and community in general, leaving individual specifics aside. So, much variety and so much colours came to me. All these variations made it a really beautiful observational experience. While observing, all these variations, I also noticed that while people are different for different reasons, but on the other hand they also have lots of things common. What you see, is simply based on the perspective with which you observe. If you want to see the differences, differences are that you will get. If you want to see similarities, kaboom! , similarities are here for you.

Volunteer handover time, Italy
Volunteer handover time, Italy

One thing which is very similar in all people is they find it very easy to see the differences, even when they are talking of one-world, no-boundaries kind of discussions. People in general talk about community and human brotherhood etc. but most of the time individual preferences take over. E.g. people who talk about individual freedom would go on lengths on how vegan or vegetarian or raw food is the best way. They would not even realise, that the moment they mention one type of food is the way, they have taken individual’s freedom to choose her own food! Mostly people would like to see the things done their own way, even when in general discussions they talk about being one from the open-minded and welcome-to-new-ideas class. While being volunteer, I learned a lot of people actually need a worker and not a volunteer. Somewhere, in their mind they fail to keep the fact that volunteer does not mean that an expert has come to help them. Volunteer simply means ” a person” is available to help. He may know something, maybe not. Even if he knows some work, it may not be at your level. This is no different then regular work life. However, as in work life, sometimes you also come across people who are different, who are special and you may wonder which planet they came from. These people are rare to find and one may have to search long and hard to meet such people.

Smiles in Italy
Smiles in Italy

It is hard to say if I I learned something or if I got any big lessons from my travel. In someway it simply depends on the lens that one wants to take. With one lens, there are many different things I learned, but on the other hand about people, it was mostly a confirmation of what I already knew. For me this travel is not like a project from which some lessons need to be learned. It is more of an experience, a feeling, a communication, a sharing. The smiles I shared, The warmth I received, the hugs I got and the love I received during this journey is something that a MasterCard cannot buy, because “it is priceless”. Right now, I hope that this journey continues and I remain lucky to share more smiles and hugs while learning new things.


Mulla Nasrudin was spending some of his hard-earned cash on a luxury cruise and was given a table with a Frenchman. At their first meal together, the Frenchman said, “Bon appetit!”

Before the next meal commenced the performance was repeated. “Bon appetit,” said the Frenchman. “Mulla Nasrudin,” replied the other.

After this had happened at every meal for three days, Nasrudin was getting fed up, and told a fellow traveller about it. “He tells me his name is Bon Appetit and I tell him my name is Mulla Nasrudin, and then at the next meal, we start all over again.”

The fellow traveller laughed and explained to the Mulla that the Frenchman was not introducing himself and that ‘Bon appetit’ meant “Good appetite”, or “I hope that you enjoy your meal!”

Nasrudin breathed a sigh of relief on receiving this information. Next morning, at breakfast, the Mulla greeted the Frenchman with “Bon appetite”. The Frenchman nodded politely and said, “MULLA NASRUDDIN.”