A Travel Note (a birthday gift to someone)

Posted: May 18, 2012 in story over coffee

It’s always surprising to know somebody’s random life. On my last traveling, I and my best friend were too excited about exploring the city and trying the food that we ended up in one restaurant. As usual, seeing our faces are different from them, the owner of the restaurant started to ask me some usual questions, while my best friend hurry went to the toilet. The conversations were, where are we from, why interested to come to his country, for how long, where do you live in your country and bla bla.  Our lives (mine and my best friend’s) somehow always left people dropped their jaws, every time we told them; yes we are from “the country which well known about the Island of Gods” but none of us living in our country anymore, at least for the time being. I live in Italy, while my best friend lives in the US. And this guy started asking the same questions like others, “why do you leave your beautiful country, I would like to go back there (he once came to my country), the people are very friendly etc etc”. I wish I had proper answers for these questions, but I just asked him back, “then tell me why you once left your country to Rome? You have beautiful country too” (he lived in Rome some times ago). “I pursued my dreams, I wanted to be an actor, I was an actor once in Rome, but then I went back home for some reasons then finally found my passions on cooking so I made this restaurant”. Then I replied “then maybe I am the same like you, I pursue my dreams, I still don’t know where it will end up, but I keep going”. “You keep going girl, you just don’t know yet where it will end, but eventually you will”. And our conversations stopped as our food was coming and he said “Buon Appetito”. That I replied “Grazie Signore” with a big smile.

And the random lives of people I met during my traveling continue. One time, in airplane, there was an old guy started to talk to me after he examined my face and guessed where I am from. When I said my country, he asked me “so do you speak Dutch?” I explained that was forbidden to use Dutch language by our government to affirm the resistance of Indonesians to the Netherlands at that time; since then, none of Indonesian youngsters speak Dutch unless they learn it or they have Dutch blood. “I am sorry to hear that” he said, “I am from Netherlands by the way”. We laughed altogether and continued talking, that he speaks 6 languages. He is Italian by blood but lives in Maastrich (one of cities in the Netherlands), so no wonder he speaks Italian very well. He handed me his business card as a professional interpreter/translator of those 6 languages and also a professor of languages. I was too curious to just let my big mouth shut. “So what basically do you interpret, sir?” “Anything, any kind of documents, economics, laws, medic, I interpret a secret agent too” Before I questioned him, he said “it won’t be a secret anymore if I told you.” Then again we laughed. But my questions continued, “How could you speak that many languages? As I knew that not many Italians speak English, but you master in 6 different languages” “They are ignorant” As he whispered on my ears. “I am originally from Calabria, so I know how they are, thanks to my parents that took us to Canada when we were kids, so we basically speak Italian at home but also English in our neighborhood, then my curiosity of languages continued that I learnt some others then I do a lot traveling to see other parts of the world, I lived for some years in Iran, that is how I speak Persian. Some organizations started knowing me and hire me for some translation jobs, but at the same time I have also passion to be a teacher in a way of sharing my knowledge in languages”. But you must be expensive, sir. I said.”Yes, of course I am, but I am worth it”. Wow, I was very surprised somehow with this person’s confidence without making him cocky. I mean, yes of course he is worth to be expensive after bunch of years of experiences and his capability. As we reached Brussels, he told me “whenever you stop by at Maastrich, let me know, I and my wife would be very glad to host you and take you around” I smiled widely from ear to ear and said thank you. He shook my hand and said “teniamoci in contatto (let’s keep contact) and keep going” then we separated in the airport.

There are many people in the world that will enrich you in one way or another. In sharing their experiences or giving you some worth-full advices. But without your conscience sometimes your life can also give other people knowledge. This, what I experienced during my traveling. I was in the night train from my recent small city to the capital for catching my flight on the next morning. I took that train at the first place for the cheap offer; I didn’t think about the inconvenience that I would have. The train was dark; that was train with compartment inside for 6 persons in one. I found my compartment was full with guys sleeping one on another, also on my seat. I tried to complain to a guy who stood beside the door, ignorantly he said “il nostro posto” (our place). “si, ma guarda che ho il biglietto!” (yes, but look, I have the ticket). “non me ne frego, è nostro posto” ( I don’t care, it’s our place). I could not complain anymore, this train full with young people who either drunk or smoke weeds and they don’t give a shit about you. I was scared of course, I was the only one woman there and I just remember that the next day was national holiday so these people all going together to celebrate in the capital city. I sat my self in the corridor, hoping somehow the chief of train will come to check the ticket, but nobody came.  I hugged my back pack, thinking how I would pass these 6 hours in this train. A group of drunken guys was going back and forth in the corridor, yelling and hitting the train walls, I hid my face inside my capuchon, I didn’t want to be seen as the only one woman there. Yet one of them found me, and sat next to me and spoke, saying how he feels pity that I am alone and sit in the corridor instead of inside of my compartment. He offered me to move to his compartment that I could sleep better. I said my gratitude and told him that I better be here. For the God’s sake, how could I let my self to move to his compartment while this guy tried to seduce me sexually? He forced me, I resisted. He said, then I will sit beside you all night long. I could smell his alcohol breath, I was nearly crying but then I said, I want to sleep and you better get back to your compartment that I don’t want you to sit beside me. And another drunken guy came and said “oh she has beautiful eyes”. I snapped back “thank you but these beautiful eyes want to sleep”. They went back eventually, I didn’t know where, while half of people in the corridor gave their applause on me. I felt my tears rolled over my cheeks, I cried. The boy beside me said, sit between us (he was with 2 other boys), you better said that you were with us. “How in the world I know, I was practically alone and I didn’t talk to anyone before”. This boy named Vincenzo as he shook my hand, and he wondered how I could be in his country. I told him my country, he doesn’t know. It’s closed to Australia, in hoping he would figure out. He still doesn’t know. Then I told him, the name of very well-known Island in my country, he doesn’t know either. And I gave up and said “ricorda bene il nome del mio paese e quando sei tornato,  vedi sulla mappa, dov’è il mio paese e leggi l’informazione da wikipedia” (remember my country’s name and when you’re back, see on the map where is my country and read the information from wikipedia). Ora, l’unica cosa che posso dirti è lontano il mio paese. (now, the only thing that I can tell you, that my country is far). He was a good guy, very young and kind of shocked to know how I flew about 18 hours from my country to this country for study. In the morning we had to separate, he caressed my hair as I said thanks to him, he said “buon viaggio e stammi bene” (have a good trip and take care); I smiled and waved him goodbye then hurry running to the connecting bus to the airport.

I can not more thankful to God of having the chance to see the world, I do believe, each people has its own mission. That if we are wise enough we can learn things from them. One day, I met another old guy maybe about 65 – 70 years old, in very small city closed to Switzerland, he hold a pot of flowers as he was crossing the road. They were beautiful and he looked very happy about it. It’s beautiful, I said. Thank you, it’s a surprise for my wife, he replied proudly. Indeed, it’s a beautiful surprise, is it her birthday today? I continued asking him. No. it’s not, I just want to surprise her. I think it’s very sweet of him and what he did, left smile on my face about how he keeps the love warm no matter old he is and his wife might be. And I love to know how the simple thing you do can really brighten somebody’s life. I mean, if we look at the world, how people in this world becoming more and more selfish and tend to dramatize their lives, to complicate things and exaggerate small stuffs.   They talk more, in order to be listened but listen less, while on the other hand, God gives us 2 ears and 1 mouth, to actually listen more and talk less.

So comparing to other people who more likely traveling a whole lot more than me, maybe ¾ of the world, maybe 168 countries of 170 countries in total in the world, my experiences are nothing. But somehow I know I am closer to what I am looking for. But more importantly is the process and the education (not to mention the experiences) that I gain during my travel time. And without my consciousness, I have spread (hopefully, widely) about my country to people who had no idea about it. Or to change their point of view about my country, because, some people I met, either they didn’t know about my country or they knew my country as a dangerous place for tsunami and earthquakes continuously to happen, or where the deadly malaria is or noted as one poor countries in the world and of course the place of group of terrorists. And thanks to media which making my country seems like even worst. I am responsible enough to make everything straight. And with my traveling, I hope to meet more people who educate me in one way or another, people that I can take advices from, the experience that makes me wiser and at the same time to wide-spread about my country to people who don’t know it or to give a right information about it.  So I keep going.

PS:

This writing is for my dear one who has birthday on May 18th. Happy Birthday to you

World is like a book, the one who doesn’t travel only reads one page”.

May 18, 2012

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Comments
  1. Jo de Marco says:

    one should be grateful to have such a girlfriend like you

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