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Monday, December 4

Bob the Builder

Around Oct 15th, I had registered on Couchsurfing.com. Since then what a wonderful experience it has been. I have met Ewa(the Swedish journalist) over coffee, discussed Bollywood, invited her to the Art of Living session!

And then there has been Bob from Kansas city who wrote to me requesting for a couch...Little did I know that this simple gesture would lead to a great many experiences!

Bob, arrived with his ultra light bag, with a mosquito repellent treated shirt, a portable UV ray water purifier, large white hair and the most alive 60 year old face. A self-confessed low maintenance guy, Bob has been staying with us for the past 4 days...and what conversations we have had.

I had always read about the 'great American spirit/ dream'. Not really understood what it meant or fathomed the 'real meaning'. It was only when I listened to the story of Bob the builder, teacher, wanderer who got bankrupt and built his business from scratch twice, sailed for 18 months along the coast of US and Canada after selling all his life's belongings and packing everything left in 8 boxes that I have got a hang of this unique American spirit!

A great cook, raconteur of many tales, spirited at 60, Bob has been like a breath of fresh air...

One of the things I was interested in knowing was what were the first impressions of Bob about Mumbai/ India...Interestingly, his experiences are very similar to mine when I came to Bombay from Delhi some 3.5 years back!

Here in Bob's words...

1. As I stepped out of the airport, the mass of humanity hit me/ my senses...I wasn't prepared for anything like this.

2. The pollution, dust and the traffic congestion enveloped me after I left the airport...

3. Maybe those are the only two negatives. I keep wondering how friendly Indians are. They come up to you and ask if you need help. You guys are very curious. Some people would think that to be nosy . But I am as interested as you are. I have enjoyed this curiousness.

4. Most people are good natured. Maybe it's part of the Hindu spirituality/ Karma . You accept your fate and don't complain.

5. And how industrious Mumbai seems to be. Everyone seems to be doing something!
Mumbai beats Mexicans in being resourceful.

6. I was always warned that I would be assaulted with smells. But other then the dry fish smell, everywhere it was sandalwood and incense in the shops.

7. How neat everyone looks...They seem to be unaffected by the fairly warm weather.

8. I loved the variety of food. It all looks so good. The best part was the papaya-pineapple at Naturals, the coriander chutney, Basmati rice, the Goan wine, the Candies coffee and Darjeeling tea.

9. I haven't seen any spice merchants. Something I must find before I leave.

10. Everything seems so chaotic and yet organised. Everyone here looks as if they are enjoying what they are doing...

Bob is so different from any 64 year old I have met...He had a divorce at 61 and met his girlfriend at 64years through www.match.com!

I am motivated to travel like Bob to far-away lands, to chase stuff that my heart desires, wander aimlessly and to live and be a part of a local culture.
Thanks Bob for stoking the dormant wanderer in me...
P.S. BTW, it's lil Neo who has given the name Bob the Builder!!


meraj said...

correction: lil' neo has turned into ung neo and it was nice hearing him speak so much

great post...a charming departure from the rants


jigs said...

Onboard a Chennai-Mum flight a few months ago, I experienced a similar spirit albeit only for 90 minutes. A 68-yr-old British lady slid into the seat next to mine and flashed a warm smile. Within a grand total of 3 minutes we got to chatting as if we knew each other for a long long time. She was a social worker and had come down to work with the villagers in Chennai. I was amazed by her spirit and zest for life. At 68, she had a list of things that she wanted to do in her life. My list, at 27, was much shorter than hers. (It's much longer now though.)She then proceeded to give me some valuable tips on how to get myself a gal when i told her i was still single!:)

But what i vividly remember is this little inspiring story she shared with me. A pity i forget her name. Anyway, here it is.

She always had this fear about water. She used to have nightmares about her drowing in water since childhood. She could never get herself to even touch the waters of a swimming pool. But a week before we met in that plane, she said to herself (in her own words) "What the f***!" She slipped into her newly bought swimsuit, and just dropped herself into the swimming pool of her hotel. Six days later, she learned swimming and I could see the light on her face when she said that she touched the floor of the 10-feet-deep pool and came back up.

I don't know if that was the biggest achievement of her life. For people like her and Bob, these moments could be something that come by all too often.

How many moments like these can we list down?

Manish said...

fascinating story/account!

meraj said...

oh...and bobs pic in the rearview of an autorickshaw is nice!

Manish said...

thanks meraj! yup i just happened to carry my nikon!