This is the tale of How I Met Some More Interesting Random Strangers by Joining a Meet up out of Impulse.
If you have read the open letter to kind blogger, you must be knowing that I was at Chennai staying with a kind blogger.
The story goes like this. I was staying at this kind blogger friend’s house. I had the privilege to use all the facilities.
Being on the road for almost a month, I wanted to check what was happening in the online world. So I used the high-speed internet after a very long time. I had a lot to catch up, I hadn’t update the blog in a while, I needed to reply to some mails, I had to thank the couch surfers who happily offered their couches, I had to write them the feedback. I had so much things to do and I was all alone in that house. So I decided to use WiFi.
After I finished all the above mentioned tasks, there was still a lot of time left and I had nothing much to do. And unfortunately my camera charger stopped working. It wouldn’t charge the battery. I was completely unaware of this problem and I came to know about it when the battery got completely drained out. But the good thing was that the battery had enough charge to survive the entire trip and the problem occurred at the final leg of the journey.
As the camera wasn’t working, I didn’t have pretty much anything to do. So I thought of meeting some people. I checked the couch surfing site. Couldn’t find many travellers to meet in Chennai. But then there it was! A Chennai Couch surfing meet up was happening that very day! How lucky! I checked the venue and left a reply saying that I would be joining as well.
After having lunch and resting for some more time, I headed out. I had never attended a CS meet up at such a short notice. It is a bit risky. Risky in the sense, I didn’t have any contact numbers, I didn’t know whom to contact or how to recognise them and I wasn’t even sure if the venue mentioned was confirmed or they would change it at that last moment. Anyway I decided to go.
It was happening at some café near Besant nagar beach, Chennai. So I asked some guy i met on the road, how to reach that place. He helped me with the directions and bus number. After walking quite some time and asking so many others, at last got into a bus that was heading towards this place. But after I got in the bus, I came to know that it wouldn’t go exactly to that place and I had to take another bus to reach my destination.
Then I switched on my loyal, reliable travel partner : Google Maps. It rarely misguides me. But when it does, it turns out to be quite funny. Reaching a granite slab of 2 feet wide while driving a car can be cited here as a testimony. Reaching road blocks are too common to mention, especially if there is any newly built flyover nearby.
Anyway Google maps showed me the nearest point where I could get down to reach the beach. When I checked the maps, it was almost half an hour by walking. So I decided to walk instead of taking a bus. So far from my experience, Google maps wont misguide you while walking, unless until one has given wrong input. They say in computer terms GIGO : Good Input, Good Output.
After the half an hour walk, I did reach Besant Nagar beach and found out the café. The real trouble started just then. There were some people already sitting in the street side café, enjoying the breeze that was coming from the sea. Now my task is to find out the couch surfers among these people, whom I have never met, not even in photographs.
I checked the CS site to see if anyone had replied . No response. I walked in front of the café checking people, like a thief who was planning to break in a house! There were gangs of girls sitting there in the café and I looked like someone who is secretly checking them out and ogling at them 😉
I had no idea, how I was going to find this people. It was already the time mentioned on the site. I decided to walk around the beach side looking for some clues. What I found is police men and women roaming around the beach. I know that they have a special affection towards the “oglers” 😉 So I went back to the café for another round of search. My search criteria was to look for a bunch of people from different countries and different age groups having different skin tones , different accent and so on.
I prayed to Google god and ran a real life search query. Voilà!! In one corner I found a group of men and women. 3 women, 2 men, Indian and Non Indians, age ranging from 20 to 70, that was the first investigation report I could come up with, for that group.
I was still having doubts. I looked at the group with a question on my face. Someone asked “Couch surfing??” I nodded and said ‘yes’. “Haloo. welcome” and within no time I was part of that group.
People joined one by one till it became a group of around 20. We ordered coffee and snacks. And it was fun. The meet up was organized by 2 girls from Iran. They were travelling across India. When I talked to them, they told me that they were travelling from Goa. They told me about their CS host at Goa. I knew him, I stayed with him as well. Then she told me where they were going next. I knew that host too, surprisingly. So we came to the conclusion that the world is a small place! They were actually following a similar travel plan, which I did some time ago.
Another interesting person was 70-year-old Barbara from USA who knew more about Delhi and India in general, than anyone present in that group. She is an avid traveller, even at this age. She is an ambassador of Couch surfing.
Then there was a movie assistant director , some bankers, consultant, people who quit their jobs. It was an interesting group. We exchanged stories, numbers, contact details, shared the bill for tea and snacks and it was time to leave. Then this man, who had undergone an accident, who was advised to take bed rest and not to ride motorbike, offered me a lift. Now that is the kindness of couch surfers! He dropped me at my host’s house.
I had a great time that day. Thanks to all the wonderful people who believes in humanity. Thanks to all couch surfers out there. Maybe you can also be a couch surfer. Join now.