This one is another story to my #TravelEncounters series, and this one is one of the best Airport Stories of my life. Incidentally, this happened at one of the best airports in the world – Singapore Airport.
There is a certain romance and nostalgia attached to airports. I love airports a lot, the chaos of people leaving and the rush of arrivals. New beginnings and long waited endings, arrivals and departures, hellos and goodbyes.
The charm of airports and the time spent at an airport, also lies in the fact that it symbolizes possibilities. Happy or sad, welcomed or dreaded – possibilities fuel us. We start in one city and arrive at another. We could start the journey at a hot city and arrive into another with a rain-shower. And between all this, in the transit, we sometimes leave familiarity behind – or come back to it.
And being in transit is what makes the journey so beautiful to me. I will always prefer a window seat in an airplane high up in the sky to a luxury hotel room with a pool-view. Maybe that’s just me, but I think there are a lot of people like me – wandering souls who find peace in transit. Are you one of them? Tell me in the comments – but only after you read my Travel Encounter story below, now that we’ve established that I love airports.
The year was 2008, I was returning from my first international trip – and all girls trip to Singapore, something that I treasure till date. Singapore is special, I’ve told you before!
After immigration and a hearty meal at the food court, the three of us where sitting near a huge glass wall overlooking the planes, waiting for our flight. We had an hour and a half to go.
Very quickly, my friends decided to catch some shut eye. Couldn’t blame them, we had partied hard and till late the day before, celebrating our last day in Singapore. I, for some reason, couldn’t sleep. So I sat there, keeping an eye on our hand luggage and at some point, I grabbed my camera and started to browse the pictures I took over the duration of this trip.
There was one picture of us three girls laughing like crazy at Sentosa, right outside the Pink Dolphin show. We looked so mad and stupid but flushed and happy, that it made me giggle. The next picture was of me trying to pose like a model next to a fountain, but squinting in the sun instead – a far cry from a model-pose. It made me laugh a little again.
Just in a few minutes, I came upon another picture of the three of us managing to pose like sane people for once, but the kind stranger who I had approached and requested to click the picture, had shaky hands and had taken a blurry picture. We saw his hands shaking just as the camera was handed over to him, but didn’t know what to say so we hoped as we posed. This was right in front of Universal Studios in Sentosa. Zooming in to this picture, I laughed again.
This laugh must have been a loud one, because the person sitting a seat away from me leaned in and asked, “So good to re-live memories, right?”
Yes, I replied turning towards him. He was a tall gentleman, in his forties if my guess was right, and we got talking. He was from Singapore and was travelling to some place that I’ve now forgotten, for work. I told him he was lucky to live in such a clean and wonderful country, and he said he loves India a lot.
We talked about India – about a few places that he had visited when he was in college. I told him about my Singapore experience and how the people were friendly and so very helpful in Singapore.
He told me he had two kids and his wife was working with an advertising agency, which got me interested because I was working for a digital ad agency in Delhi as well. He was in Banking, and had a keen interest in History. After retirement, he intended to study history again and at the time I found it very interesting, and a bit crazy.
We talked for more than half an hour about Singapore, history of Singapore, my trip, his tips for my next Singapore trip and somewhere between this conversations, my laughter from earlier came up. I showed him the blurry picture, telling him the story that I found funny.
He put on his glasses and looked at the said picture, telling me that he is also very bad at taking pictures and his kids are always trying to teach him to use a camera the correct way. I started to tell him about my limited knowledge of a camera as well, and how my friends – the two girls napping on the row behind us – were better photographers than me, but he suddenly stopped me.
He pointed to the blurry picture and asked “When was this taken?”
I told him it was taken three days back. He stared at the picture some more and started to shake his head and laughed.
“I don’t believe this.” He said. “Look here, that’s my son!” He pointed at a few kids standing in a line behind us while entering Universal Studio. I couldn’t believe it! He quickly took his phone out of his pocket and showed me his son’s pictures. This was the same kid captured by mistake in my camera.
Somehow, the son of my future airport friend was an accidental muse of the stranger who took the picture for me. What are the chances? I got goose bumps, to be honest.
Soon enough, his Singapore Airlines flight was announced and he left after giving me his card, and I promised to send him that picture on email, and also to keep in touch because this was clearly not a random meeting.
My friends woke up and got coffee, and didn’t believe my story at all.
“Stop trying to spook us.” One of them said, still groggy from lack of sleep.
Once we were back in India, settled into our lives after a long vacation, I met one of them for coffee and showed her the email exchange between me and my new airport friend. This bizarre coincidence still makes me wonder how many stories and possibilities are waiting to be discovered by us. It has been almost a decade and she still says it was spooky, but I still believe that it was one of the bizarre coincidences that we often read about in the magazines.
These #TravelEncounters are really amazing, they make me feel connected to the world at a much deeper lever, makes me feel like no matter how small and insignificant I am, but I am a part of the grand scheme of things. This is why I absolutely love travel! It opens up doors for things that would otherwise miss us, or skip us.
Did I tell you about the time I met a girl from Finland at an AirBnB apartment in Krabi, only to find out that the restaurant where I was eating at unknowingly for the past few days, was owned by her? I will, very soon, in another one of me #TravelEncounters posts. Stay tuned!
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