The cut-throat competition of the 21st century forces us to be on our toes. The much required need to secure a leading edge in our respective domain or the need to look different or stand apart encourages us to think out of the box. Is it possible that thinking unceasingly like this makes us turn a blind eye to some of the treasures right in front of our eyes? We see them, hear about them but tend to shun them. Blind Dates are one such marvel.
Blind dates could be defined as “a social engagement with a person one has not previously met, arranged by some mutual acquaintance with a view to the development of a romantic relationship.” Is it a new concept for Indians? I don’t think so. Do most of the arranged marriages begin with a blind date? Mutual acquaintances are either your parents, relatives or close family friends; but still, if you tell a Gen Y kid in India about this, he might cringe for a while. I guess it is all about the perspective. The compelling aspect of a blind date is the fresh perspective it engenders. Rest all the times, we build a house of cards based on our prejudices.
It is exactly the same for the world. Whenever we think of visiting any part of the world, we always have our pre-defined notions. We have the list of to-dos, famous places to visit, popular restaurants, etc. etc. It does make sense too; it allows us to make the best possible use of our time and money. Unless you are super rich unplanned trips can dig a big hole in your pocket. But we tend to learn more in an unpredictable environment pushing us out of our comfort zone. Don’t we? They constitute the instances where we had felt like a fool and these become the memories that bring a smile on our faces along with a sense of pride when looked at years later. What if I say there is a way you could enjoy this unpredictability, the anxiety of the unknown with complete safety and that to for free? By free I mean zero travel cost. Once you are there, what you do and how much you make out of it, is entirely upto you; rent a bike, rent a car, be part of a guided tour or just walk through the city. I am neither imagining nor exaggerating. It is absolutely true. Modern airlines have been providing with one such option but we tend to overlook them. At least I was, till 2016. I am talking about the connecting flights and layovers. In August that year, I flew from Bremen, a city in Northern Germany to New Delhi via Amsterdam, NL. I had a layover time of around 12 hours in Amsterdam. At first, I thought, what have I done but later I realize why didn’t I do this the last time? I purchased a day ticket after reaching the airport; it took me less than 20 minutes to reach the city center from the Schiphol Airport. I went out in the city, took a boat ride through the canals, had lunch at a nice restaurant, saw some “fancy stuff” had dinner at a restro-bar, took the train back to the airport, boarded the flight and slept as I would have done in a direct flight.
It exactly fits the description of a blind date, the airline acted as a mutual acquaintance that set me up with a city; I explored the city for around 9-10 hours, which was just enough for my errands. I tend to do this more often now, in fact, a direct flight from Zurich (nearest international airport to my current place of work) to New Delhi costs me more than a connecting flight (Zurich — place decided by the airline — New Delhi). #Lufthansa was indeed a mutual acquaintance in one of my such detours. The only thing I check before booking is the visa requirement for that country. Moreover, these days countries outside EU are softening their transit/tourist visa process, a lot of them provide visa on arrival. And within EU, the borders are just for the namesake and need nothing special; if you have a work visa for one of the EU countries, you have access to some sixteen different countries.
But the question still remains, why do we love the world?
It is quite straightforward, we need the world. Loving the world makes it easy for us to accept it the way it is. Traveling is to life as a ladder is to the game “snakes and ladders.” Both accomplish the same goal, take the player a few steps ahead of others. Our problems are not unique, although we like to think that way. Different people, different cities or even different countries encounter similar problems; it is just that each of them is at a different place on the timeline. Developed countries are a few years ahead, and the developing ones are a few years behind. That’s it! When we #SayYesToTheWorld and start visiting different places we end up exploring ourselves; we realize who we are, what others do differently than us. Nobody is born openminded, experiences forge it piece by piece over the years. We see others and we learn. Travel cannot be easier than what it is today, we don’t have to become Vikings and go through the vast sea to explore different countries. A few clicks would do the trick. The bucket lists are outdated, use the cost effective and safe #TheBlindList orchestrated by the airlines.