Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Unlucky traveler

I realized that I have not blogged in a couple of months and I seem so out of touch now. I was away in India for a month and then as if to pay for my vacation, after coming back, I ended up in a project where I had to work like it was going out of fashion. But all that is hogwash. Excuses I like to give myself for my tardiness at blogging.

Anyway, one lazy afternoon, as I relaxed on the sofa with my head leaned back and pondered about life in general, I came to the conclusion that I am an unlucky traveler. Let me elaborate on that unlucky bit. Ever since I started travelling alone and ever since the fairer sex was of interest to me, not once has a young woman sat next to me in a bus, train or plane. Elderly women, elderly men, young men, children -sure. But never a young woman. Please note that I am not saying 'hot young woman' or 'pretty young woman'. I am just saying any young woman. If my wife is reading this, (a) I am talking about the time before I met you and (b) I really don't care about who sits next to me now, so I don't think of myself as lucky or unlucky anymore.

Some people have all the luck. I know of a few friends who seemed to meet women only in buses and trains. Every time they wanted to meet a new woman, all they had to do was travel a few hours by bus or train. I have heard so many stories from them that I have felt that it was just my fate to maintain a balance in the universe in that field. There was a time when I used to travel between Bombay and Pune by bus every week. I must have done that for atleast 2 years, Pune being my place of work and Bombay being my hometown. Its a 4 hour journey each way. So in approximately 400 trips in 2 years, never once did I ever have the same luck as my friends did. Fate never gave me the chance to open up a conversation with my "fellow-young-female-traveler". In the movie 'Unbreakable', Samuel Jackson's character yearns to find someone who is at the opposite end of the spectrum as himself. I don't think my friends and I ever had that problem.

When I was about 13 or 14, there used to be a TV program called 'Yatra' (यात्रा -meaning 'journey') and I suspect that it was sponsored by the Indian Railways. Anyway, every episode was a short story about people who were travelling by train. I distinctly remember an episode where a young man and woman who are travelling from Kanya-kumari to Kashmir (easily a 3 day journey) meet on the train and fall in love. For some reason, that episode lodged itself firmly in my memory and fate cruelly reminded me every time I travelled that what I saw was a TV show and my travels were real-life.

But now when I think about it, I realise that I was unlucky only while I was in the actual process of travelling. After getting to a destination, things were alright. I have tried to form many theories to explain this dearth of interesting female company in my travels. One of my theories is that pretty young women do not travel alone because they always have some acquaintance who is dying to be with them all the time. The second theory is that younger women don't travel alone as much as younger men and so the chance of sitting next to one is reduced considerably right there. But when I look at my friends, all these theories fall flat and the only conclusion and a horrible one too, that I seem to be able to draw, is that maybe it's just me. I am not sure what it is about me though. That will be one of life's unsolved mysteries.