Go solo, but be prepared

Its quiet natural to confront unexpected happenings in a long journey, be it in our home land or abroad. Sometimes it may be exuberant, but to some, it would be a perennial agony. The challenges often owe to our mismanagement or hasty decisions taken at the last moment.  Or simply because, the follies we do make in sheer ignorance.

A well planned, meticulously prepared tour package may save our time and energy. But you will miss the real pulse of the life. True, you don’t have to rush for the ticket in a metro, or wander in search of an eatery. Nor do have the risk to find the place you stay or the must see places in a city. All you have to do is to wake up early and be seated in the bus arranged for you for the city ride, or to board in the ‘hop on hop off’ buses.

To set out for a tour alone would attract a bundle of hurdles. It may land you in unending woe. But you can feel the heat and dust of life. The lessons of life, perhaps.

My colleague in the media training programme held at Netherlands, Omneya Mohammed Nagib, a teaching assistant Al Ahram Canadian University, had a tough time in Barcelona. She flew all the way from Amsterdam to Barcelona for a short visit. Just to experience the bustling life of the beach city of Spain.

But it was her trip to the bottom of misfortune. Her entire belongings including the passport were stolen on the busy Catalunia. All she had with her was her mobile phone. One can imagine the disappointment of a hapless lady who lost her money and travel documents in a country that is totally alien to her.  What saved her was the scanned copy of passport and visa in her mobile. That somehow helped her to return to Netherlands and avail a temporary travel document from the Egyptian embassy. But now she is after the authorities to get a permanent document.

Rather abashing. Of course, beyond our control.  So merciless one can do to a woman. But I would bet to say that the humanity and the quality of humane have not dried yet. The unforeseen events I met made me more optimistic of human being. Admitted, that those were the results of my utter fuckups.

It was my maiden trip to the city of Prague. The Bohemian town surrounded by mountains on the coasts of river Vlatava. As very much in the heart of Europe, I hopefully expected the Euro would be enough for the transaction. Yes it is. But in the public transport system, the Czech Krones are widely used. You may not avail the ticket from the cab like you from Switzerland or Netherlands. If it is not purchased from the ticket vending machine, you may land in trouble. Equally important that you might keep Czech Krones along with you to operate the machine.

I was literally at the cross roads when I found that the Euro doesn’t work with ticket vending machine. Perplexed, I tried my credit card even. But it failed. Interestingly, the Czech man who was watching my desperate attempts to get a ticket offered his help. He took the ticket for me and even boarded the metro train to show me the old city center where I was heading to. He even declined to accept Euro in return for the Krones. I really had no words to express my gratitude. You may call it, due ex machine or providential intervention.

No less was the help by a French man in the busy Paris metro. The ticket valid for the whole day was not working at the entrance of an underground station. I tried many a time to get it worked. But the machine showed the red signal and rejected my ticket. All I can do was to bypass the law. So I tried to crawl under the half door and iron bars. I could have succeeded without my heavy back pack. I was hooked in the iron bars. The French man behind me helped me to wriggle out of the iron bars. But my purse had already fallen down during my fight with iron bars.  

I was unaware of the missing purse. To my great surprise, the very French man later came to me in the platform to hand over my purse. My Egyptian friend was pick-pocketed and lost her purse; I lost my purse due to my over smartness but it was returned, unimaginable in a city like Paris. That made me believe that gentleness is still alive in this world.

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