I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.
– Vincent Van Gogh
We meet a lot of people in life, and the best travel stories are of the people we meet during our trips far and near our – what we normally call, home ground. Some of these encounters, short or long, leaves us with a little something that stays with us for a long time. This ‘little something’ might be a memory, an impression, a change in opinion or a lesson learnt.
And I have got all of these from my travels, and then some. Richer by experience, is what I like to call it.
One memory (or more, if we’re lucky) for the Travel Memory Jar with every trip we embark on, is what makes travel a fulfilling and learning experience that might lead to self-discovery. Because, among other things, we love the idea of losing ourselves in strange streets and new cities to discover ourselves.
So, putting the philosophy class on hold for now and coming back to the point – you’re welcome! – today I am starting a new series on this travel blog, and I’m calling it Travel Encounters. Might even use it as a hashtag, haha. This #TravelEncounters does sound cool, right?
[ Updated on May 2017: I am writing more stories of my Travel Encounters and you can read my #TravelEncounters stories at one place if you click on that link.]
I plan on sharing stories of people I meet during my trips, and their stories. It’s nothing new or unique, lots of publications and people have done it before me. But I’ve been feeling the need to document my travel encounter memories because I fear I’ll forget some of them – thanks to memory and age, obviously.
I am going to start with one of my recent trips. I was in Indonesia for a few days in Nov 2016 – it was a fabulous trip with Air Asia and I absolutely loved it. I stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton Jakarta and this is where I met a girl named Ratri.
Ratri is a Sanskrit word, also used in Hindi, and it means Night. Historically speaking, Ratri is short for Ratridevi, who is the goddess of night in the Vedas and the mythology of India and Hinduism.
Ratridevi is sister to Ushas, the Vedic goddess of Dawn. And in a lot of Indian languages like Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam – Ratri means nighttime.
For some reason, I loved her name a little too much. She is an Indonesian, of course.
“Your name is…” I said, “beautiful.”
“Thanks, my mom picked it out for me.” She told me, smiling.
A few friends I discussed the name with, said it was a little dark. Because, well, night time is dark. A colleague even said something like why would you name your kid night, when everything is dark and scary, why wouldn’t you name your kid morning, or better still – twilight.
I, however, LOVED Ratri the name. I don’t know about you, but I think Ratri is a beautiful name. Maybe because I think of nighttime as a magical time. This got me thinking about names, about different cultures mixing together so seamlessly, and about people in general.
Indonesia used to have a strong Hindu and Buddhist influence around the 10 century, but is majorly Islamic in present times.
“Why did your mother pick this particular name?” I asked Ratri because I was curious.
“I think she liked how it rolls off the tongue,” she said. “And also, the meaning. Beautiful night.”
I agree. Ratri is a beautiful name, and so was Ratri, the girl from Indonesia.
She is has a great career in marketing (if I remember correctly), is very well spoken and immensely beautiful – but the most striking quality about Ratri was that she has a strong aura of calmness. I met her twice, and for just about fifteen minutes each, but I felt it both times. (One thing you must know about me is that I trust vibes a lot more than words, just like it should be!)
Ratri also had a beautiful smile. And she smiled a lot, I noticed. How good it is to be with people who are happy and at peace with the now, the present? I love people who spread happiness, and I know it sound like such a done-to-dead motivational quote, but I do, okay?
I am a sucker for happiness. I drop negative people from my circle, my life as quickly as I possibly can, no apologies no explanations. I’m at a stage in life where I no longer wait for people to become kinder or less-bitchy with time, because lets face it, the time is short and only one life to live. And I chose to live it with people who bring each other up, not drag one another down.
[Psstt! You should read my post about The Opinions of Other People and Similar Bullshit if you like this topic, btw.]
Don’t get me wrong, I love good gossip and fun as much as the next person, but I refuse to entertain negativity. Life’s too big and time is too short to get caught up in empty drama. And people who pull others down for their twisted idea of fun are not my kind of people, period.
And all this discussing, this rant starting from a name! You will think this is crazy, but that’s the thing, isn’t it? The people we meet and their stories bring out new aspects to things, new angle to our opinions. Meeting Ratri gave me a clearer sense of why – unknowingly, until then – I have always chosen to be with people who are good and kind. Travel Encounters that teach you something about yourself are the best kind.
Also, I want to remember the magical, the almost reverential name – the girl from Indonesia, named Ratri.
Let me end this by a quote from Crime and Punishment:
“The darker the night, the brighter the stars.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky,
Travel Encounters teach us a lot. So let’s keep collecting stories and memories wherever we go, okay?