It was early July last year, I came back to Bangalore from my official trip and found a bag on the drawing room couch which I knew didn’t belong to any one of the guys I stayed with. We were four guys including me sharing a 4BHK duplex in Koramangala. It was an awesome time! I went to my room and took rest till evening. During dinner, I finally came to know who it belonged to. It was Yogo’s! A travel name for a French guy who was travelling (still travelling) around the world for more than 2 years! Yeah, it surprised me too. He didn’t carry any mobile – considered it a hindrance to connecting with people around you (he mocks Nokia’s slogan I guess). He never used airways – air pollution! He hitchhiked as much as possible. I will not tell you more about his travelling as this blog is not meant for that. (Try his travel blog)
It’s funny how your memory deceives you sometimes. You tend to remember only the experiences you want to and rest even though very important slowly fade away. I sometimes also feel that I morph my own memories with my perspective and interpretation and end up having a memory which is not real. It’s a fantasy created by me using the reality as a prop. And this particular thought drives me to jot down my experiences so that I can cherish them as they are, forever. I thus wanted to write about my experiences with Yogo for quite a long time and now I am finally doing it.
Yogo stayed with us for about 2 weeks but he changed the way I look at the world in general. He inspired me and it changed my outlook for living life. No exaggeration. I think we need catalysts in life to initiate something and he served as one. I think we met after a day I arrived in Bangalore because he was staying with another host in the city. And I think this is the time when I tell you how Yogo came to stay with us. Yogo is a couchsurfer and so is my ex-housemate Apurva. Apurva offered to host him. CouchSurfing is a community for travellers (called surfers) who can find people (called hosts) at the places they are travelling to and then stay at their place. It’s another form of social networking I believe which is more practical and fun. Risks are always there and people talk bla bla about it but no body is really forcing you to do it, it’s your personal decision and wisdom. I think after a few days of our aquaintance, while discussing about CouchSurfing, Yogo suggested that I make a profile too. I did my research and made a profile. And this embarked my journey with CouchSurfing about which I aim to continue blogging about later.
I didn’t know what CouchSurfing was at the time I met Yogo. But CouchSurfing and everything related to it was, in reality, all in the background during his stay with us. I don’t remember exactly how the first meet with Yogo was but I was really excited to meet someone from France (J’aime la France). After a day or two we were getting comfortable with each other’s presence and we started talking a bit more. I was more of a listener as he had numerous travel stories to tell and each of his stories just left me amazed. Such rich experience in such a young age! He is just 3 years older than me but has multitude of experiences which I guess will take years for me to gather. He had a carefully planned budget and was living on an average 500 rupees a day including all his travel costs. During his stay with me I started having thoughts about my own life and my ambitions. Do they mean anything? Should I just live an average life or do something incredible like he was doing? Money isn’t everything if not nothing. I also discovered that I will never find happiness in a lavish lifestyle. I would eventually have to lead one – I don’t know – maybe not! I find happiness in wandering around, observing new people, sharing their little stories and learning new things – could be anything. All these were unfolding in my mind when I spent time with Yogo hearing about his stay in different countries and with different kinds of people.
“Do you know there are people in Mongolia whose home are tents! ”
” The World is not so bad, you need to learn to trust sometimes”
I enjoy taking a stroll in the evening as it relaxes my mind. One evening as I was heading out, Yogo who was working on his notebook (probably answering fan mails) asked, “Where are you going?“ “I’m just going for a walk. Do you want to join?“ “Yeah, why not! Just give me a moment“ And this became more or less a daily routine. Sometimes Apurva would also join us. We would talk about almost anything – social networking sites and their invasion of privacy, cultural and economical differences between our countries, beggars on the street in India, low count of girls on the streets of India, food, music, his unique travel experiences, virginity, Indian girls vs French girls – basically anything that came to our mind. Knowing him personally was also very interesting – his family, home and his life before he started travelling.
One of the subsequent days, I called in sick as I was suffering from common cold. In general, it is a boring thing as I have to spend the whole day alone in the house doing nothing as all the other guys are in the office. But lucky for me, Yogo was home and I had a good company. This was the time I found out that he had a really good taste in movies which sort of cohered with mine. I like to discuss good movies after watching them and I have only a few friends with whom I enjoy it and Yogo is also now one of them. For me movies are not just source of entertainment. Be sure that many movies are not meant for entertainment as they contain strong message – sometimes buried deep beneath the setup – maybe the ambience, people in the background. And thanks to him – I saw the movie Pink Floyd – The Wall.
One of the difficult things to do every night was to find a place where we can find not so spicy, not so oily food for Yogo. It tested our general knowledge of our neighbourhood. He was on a special diet recommended by doctor. However, he did adjust a lot with the food we ate every night. He didn’t complain at all even if the food was a bit spicy than the allowed limit.
No drinks was allowed for him too – bad for us as we wanted to share drinks with him. But we did share drinks with him – I think his treatment ended 2 days before I parted with him. We had our Old Monk. That was some crazy night. It was then I came to know about his romantic interest. I shared mine too and how I ended it a short while ago. I don’t know what got to him, he decided to patch things up with my ex. He took my mobile. He had my pass key remembered. He called her on skype and boom! I and her talked for about 20 minutes. I really don’t remember what I said but got to know from her the next day. I was really angry at Yogo for doing it. But I am also thankful to him because she knows my real feelings as I lied to her while breaking up. After the call, I think he and Apurva started planning our meet up. They checked flight tickets etc. Basically they both went crazy and I think I just passed out while they were busy with it.
The night before I was leaving for Chennai, I told Yogo how I am going to be alone for the first time for my birthday – no family and friends. I was moved to see that he made an effort to make it special and he did. That birthday turned out to be the most unusual. I spent it with a girl who was a total stranger. A couchsurfer too. What Yogo did was to put a Public request for my birthday on Couchsurfing website which initiated this.
Yogo created a lot of such memorable events for me. He also left me unsettled when I was finding peace in my average life. I guess he made me remind I am not the one to settle for average. I need to do keep doing something different always. Maybe Couchsurfing will stir up my life a little bit, add a little more color to it. But I can never forget that it all started from him. I wish to travel with him whenever possible to become a part of his journey. It is funny how you can bond so strongly with someone in just a few days. I felt it when I was saying final goodbye to him. It was the same feeling that I get when I part with my family. For Yogo, I am sure I was just another guy who he met along his travel. I guess he doesn’t realize how much impact he had on several people he had met along his way. I think he wouldn’t care too. He is too humble. As of now, we keep in touch with emails and we also talked over the phone. I hope our paths will cross again and I will also have good stories to share with him.