‘What on earth is a blind list?’ I asked myself some time back… and hopped from one explanation to another and soon enough realized that the moment I mention a destination (imaginary or otherwise) and make it a part of a document or make a subliminal decision to go somewhere or discuss with friends about wanting desperately to visit a place or do something, I have unwittingly moved out of #TheBlindList and entered the #BucketList bandwagon. Phew! So a blind list isn’t something that is ever listed. No documentation. No wishes hobbling on from past years. No forgotten lists knocking the doors of the present. No expectations lovingly created and curated over time.
Hmmm… everything that is not a blind list is clear. So now, what then is a blind list?
Entering the unexpected, I told myself, automatically populates a blind list. This is because in normal conditions it is the unexpected that enters our lives and unleashes all the tsunamis and whirlwinds. We protest and are sometimes afraid of the sort of havoc it generally creates. For instance, one #MeToo mention unexpectedly entered the life of Chetan Bhagat and his creative tranquility has gone for a six. Ask M J Akbar or Nana Patekar or Alok Nath and they will know how traumatic it is when the unexpected enters unannounced. Of course, it comes unannounced but finally creates a massive racket. On the other hand, entering the unexpected is more like ticklish joy and a few raucous gonadal giggles.
To enter the unexpected one needs no preparation but a fairly high degree of acceptance and the strength to take decisions without the traditional support of planning. I guess one can enter the unexpected in almost every sort of activity but a few #EnrichingExperiences have proved that it is most enjoyable when one is travelling.
Travel to enter the unexpected: The Kurukshetra incident
We were driving to Chandigarh and loving the road-rash sort of heroics that truckers and roadways bus drivers are so fond of unleashing in this part of our country. Our plans were in order and these included a walk by Lake Sukhna, a visit to a relative’s place, and dinner at Barbeque nation. As we neared Pipli, something very strange happened. We had just gone past a sign that said: Kurukshetra 6 km. A bit of risky reversing and we were reading the sign again.
Specky, my wife looked at me and I blinked my eyes a few times without saying anything. She smiled and said, ‘Let’s explore Kurukshetra.’ Simple. Direct. No long discussions. I nodded my head and we turned left from the highway and quite literally entered the unexpected.
The photogenic sadhus, willing wily pandits, the quaint bazaar, the massive kund, and the ghats were as much a surprise as the nice broad roads in the town, the mythology-infused gates, and the obvious affluence scurrying around with a typical small town reticence. The unexpected diversion proved to be marvelous and memorable. That was one of those days when I realized that travel without the courage to enter the unexpected would remain incomplete and unfulfilled.
Travel to enter the unexpected: Climbing the Sydney harbour bridge
Sydney was a travel assignment and I was out there exploring the vibrant culture scene there, marveling at the fascinating graffiti, walking around and tasting coffee, sipping beer, and having conversations with street artists and rickshaw pullers. I had even spent a day in the blue mountains of Katoomba, waved at penguins at the Taronga zoo, admired an anchored cruise liner, and was thinking about the way public art was promoted in the city when I suddenly found myself on the harbor bridge and staring at a sign that said: You can climb up.
That is exactly what I did. I went up 200 stairs to reach the top of the South-East Pylon, spent an hour at the displays inside telling the tale of construction of a bridge that was opened in 1932, and then went out to the Pylon Lookout, and fell in love with what I saw. There were a few people high up there going to the top of the metal structures that towered way above the city and over a roaring sea. I said to myself, ‘Climbing up there?’
‘Yes,’ said a voice behind me. I turned back and saw the receptionist who told me that BridgeClimb was possible and that another batch would leave in an hour’s time. I had not read about this climb. I had not thought about this activity. I had done no preparations. This was like entering the unexpected.
And this is what I did. I entered the unexpected.
Up there for almost three hours that it takes for completing the climb, I realized that entering the unexpected scored well over planned adventures when one is #ExploringTheWorld. I have climbed up and seen Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat, taken a super-fast elevator to have a 360 degree view of Central London from the Sky Garden, climbed 500 steps to reach Shanti Stupa in Leh, taken the uncommon route to reach a spot way above the top of the Treasury in Petra in Jordan, climbed a 275 step winding staircase to photograph York from the top of the Minster, fell in love with Seoul as one sees it from the top of Namsan Tower, and have done the usual photo-sessions at the top of the Petronas in Kuala Lumpur… but these were all pre-meditated steps. I had primed myself for the adventure and had allowed expectations to coil around my thought synapses. I wasn’t entering the unexpected.
But the BridgeClimb in Sydney just happened. I had entered the unexpected.
Travel to enter the unexpected: Python in Damnoen Saduak and Bharatpur
It was as we walked around casually and rather inattentively in the famous Damnoen Saduak floating market after a mind-blowing hour at the Maeklong railway market that we entered the unexpected.
We were suddenly face-to-face with the Python man there and he asked, ‘Python? Python around your neck?’ And to my surprise, Specky, my wife, said, ‘Yes. I’d love the experience.’
It happened suddenly without a debate between bravery and foolhardiness, without allowing logic to come in and trounce the charms of the unexpected. I must say it was a double-whammy for me that day. Specky entered the unexpected experience of having a heavy python around her neck and I entered the unexpected moment of clicking my spouse diving into this adventurous moment.
Talking of pythons, I remember we were bird-watching in Bharatpur a couple of years ago and our rickshaw-puller-cum-guide said, ‘If you want to see ajgars, you will need to walk for a couple of kilometers to the forest chowki inside and ask the guy there.’
‘Why can’t you take us there?’ I asked.
‘We are not allowed. This is the main birding circuit and we remain here,’ he said, ‘but I must warn you that you will be walking alone. Only a few brave tourists attempt this.’
Well, this was enough for Specky and I and we simply entered the unexpected and walked right into python territory. That day we saw one python emerging from one hole and entering another. That day we saw a large python sunning in the open field after his meal. We walked towards the python and stopped only a few feet away from him. The python raised his head, sniffed the air, hissed a few times and then decided that we were not the harming sorts. ‘These pythons look heavy but they can out-run us and make life impossible if they decide to,’ said the forest guard, and we slowly and carefully went away towards his chowki.
Finally, the real meaning of #TheBlindList
Is entering the unexpected always dramatic and full of adventure?
No, not always. Even simple acts like a husband who generally flops on the sofa and surfs through TV channels every evening getting up and surprising even his own lazy outlook by announcing, ‘I’ll prepare raita tonight!’ can be what entering the unexpected mean. However, even such simple acts can find their way into the blind list in your lifetime… in fact, every time you #SayYesToTheWorld.
Blind lists, therefore, are invariably in retrospect. For instance, I have shared snippets from my blind list… and there are a few more that I haven’t. Even in travel, a blind list is a documentation of travel adventures that happened because one decided to enter the unexpected. One cannot possibly prepare a blind list and then say, ‘Ha! Ha! I have a list of travel adventures, travel wishes on my blind list.’ That’s a #BucketList, my friend. We all have them and keep checking out places and activities from such lists. But the blind list is invariably in the past… and is full of moments when you chose to jump into an adventure without a single pre-meditated thought.
17 October 2018
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Tags: BucketList, Openminded, EnrichingExperience, Exploration, TravelInspiration, ExploringTheWorld, TravelToExplore #SelfExploration, Lufthansa, SayYesToTheWorld, TheBlindList, lufthansa, the blind list, travel, travel adventure, floating market in Bangkok, pythons in Bharatpur, Damnoen Saduak floating market, Maeklong railway market, enter the unexpected, petra in Jordan, sky garden, arthur’s seat, edinburgh, shanti stupa in Leh, york minster, namsan tower, seoul, petronas tower, kuala lumpur, sydney harbour bridge, bridge climb, MeToo in India, indiblogger