Tuesday, May 18, 2010


If you haven't signed up on CouchSurfing, go do it. I started being involved in it a few months back so that I could meet some English speaking people close to where I live. I haven't hung out much with locals on CS, but it looks like a good place that attracts interesting people. Or maybe everyone is equally interesting.

The most rewarding thing is the experiences with the travellers you meet. The idea behind CS is that you host some traveller and let him/her "surf your couch". Free. And when you travel to another place, someone else "repays" you with their hospitality. Meeting these travellers is an eye-opener. You realise you barely know the world. 

I met a guy from Estonia, who has been hitchhiking all across Europe for the last 8-9 months, living with CSers. He plans to return home for a "recharge" and then head to countries he hasn't seen yet. Another guy I met has lived in 6 countries in the last 6 years. He has travelled to more than 30 or 40. He lost count. This, of course, not on business. A girl who has lived in Turkey, Australia and does not remember her first couchsurfing experience, because it was so long ago. She is as old as me. A guy, still in his teens, who knows boats inside out, has sailed to more countries than I have been to, and is living encyclopedia of music. A girl, who doesn't want money but probably "lives" more than I do. A retired American soldier who now works as an analyst.

You meet these people and realise this is nothing you imagined possible. Things they have done would be impossible to do back home, or would be considered foolish. People routinely take a year off. What's the hurry? Back in India, everyone would be horrified. 

And in spite of all the differences, you get along perfectly with the people you meet. You spend a few days and share unforgettable experiences. And then, you leave (or they leave), with almost no idea of whether (and not just when) you might meet them again. It probably works the same with everyone you meet.  Most of the people I met in school, or college will never bump into me again. Even if we do, we will barely have much to talk. Even close friends have grown apart, and some of us great buddies can barely meet more than once a year.

I'm fine with that. I had time with these people and got to know them. Spend time with them. Moving away from friends was always tough, but you have enough time to deal with it. With good friends, you probably spend weeks having parties and meet-ups just to say bye. What is weird for me is that you get only a few days with interesting people, and then you probably never see them again. So the days are packed with discussions and opinion sharing. A few days of connecting and getting to know people, and then it is back to square one. Repeat with different set of people.

It is fleeting, but I'm happy it's happening to me.