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A Traveler's Saga

Photo taken at Plitvice National Park, Croatia by Vibhor Dhote Oh! What are these days I have found myself in! The bagpacks I carry n...

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Day 1: The Semi-solo Journey to Denmark

I have a lot to talk about – enough to not be allowed by the international calling charges to communicate over phone to my friends what I have to tell, enough that when I return to India there would probably be a lot more to talk about than the spare time I will get to do so.
So here I am, for those who are traveling solo or with friends to a new country; here I am, for my friends and family who would like to know my story.

I remember returning from Budge Budge, West Bengal to Guwahati, Assam alone once and then telling the entire story to a bunch of my friends while they sat in the hostel room listening to it patiently. That’s the exact way I usually like to narrate the events that happen to or around me.
Anyway, I start this journey at Delhi International Airport waving good-bye to my friend Shikha’s parents as they hug her and me. Since my Visa arrived a little late, I had to manage all the packing, Eurail pass, cards and cash in a duration of a couple of days. My parents left the day the Visa was received, which was actually supposed to be one day after my previous traveling date that had to be cancelled.

We enter the Airport to find another friend, Digvijay waiting there already. Both Digvijay and Shikha are my batchmates at MDI Gurgaon and are travelling to Hungary for their student exchange program. I, on the other hand, am supposed to report at Aarhus University, Denmark. Our flight was common till Doha, from where I was to go to Copenhagen (because let’s face it, flights to Copenhagen are cheaper than those to Aarhus) and then to Budapest.

Just after my boarding pass was taken I find a security personnel calling me only to find that I had left my wallet (that had all the important stuffs from my cards to ID card to cash) and my phone which I had just bought a day ago (with Insurance, mind you :-P) at the counter itself. Shocked by my own carelessness and the aware about the fact that I had to travel alone to Copenhagen and then to Aarhus by train, carrying all the luggage of three months, I decided, influenced by the duo with me, to buy a travel bag which is worn like a belt at the Airport. I ended up spending 1700 rupees on a bag that had a lot of slots to put various stuffs including my eurail pass (you find it for 600 outside Airport). I later realized it was just too big for me to manage and the belt was too long for my waist.
Anyway, the travel bag has been of great help as of now. Shikha calls it “code red”, that “you may lose anything but this”.  The clumsy absent-minded person that I am, I made a few mistakes like forgetting in which slot I kept my passport and letting my other phone fall to the ground while someone else gave it to me (yeah, I did that) but once I was all by myself at Doha I took great care of my belongings. Sometimes when you’re alone you turn out to be more responsible than when you are with people who care for you. My ex-colleague and friend Rahul Ghosh used to call it – “putting your guard down when you’re with family.”

It was when I was on the flight to Copenhagen that I realized how much I was going to miss my family and a handful of my friends – the comfort and luxury of being around them. I went all emotional and it was then that I decided to write this. Because I tend to not show them how much I care, but I hope they know, I hope they read this.

The flight from Doha to Copenhagen was of 6 hours’ duration and was spent watching movies like The Intern (I absolutely loved this) and Mothers’ Day (which is not a great movie but it got me all emotional).

Once I reached Copenhagen I realized the counter to get my Eurail pass activated gets closed at 8:00pm while I was there at 9:00pm. One of the ladies working there who was helping others get their tickets automatically on the machines, checked out my Eurail pass as if she saw it for the first time. After a few questions she said she could activate it for me. So, she reopened the counter and did the same – God bless her.

Once I reached the metro station, there is a map to check out the routes which helped me realize that I couldn’t take the 9:15pm train to Osterport since Hellerup stands beyond that station. I waited for the next one at 9:24pm to Helsinger that would cross by Hellerup. I had no idea if it stops in each station mentioned but I got in anyway after asking a stranger.

The train was supposed to reach Hellerup at 9:53pm, so by 9:50pm I was standing near the exit door, alone, with my rucksack on my back, my laptop bag on my front, my travel bag on my waist, and one hand carrying a airbag sitting on my VIP bag and the other hand free to open the door by pressing the button.

I almost panicked when at 9:53pm the train stopped but the doors did not open. It was dark outside and I didn’t know if I reached the station and the windows are tinted or if I reached a halt before the station. At 9:54pm the train moved while the screen showed the next station. I panicked and asked the only person who was in the coach. She said that one of the doors doesn’t open and I wondered if it was the one I was waiting near. I exclaimed, “I think I missed my station – Hellerup”. She smiled and patiently said,” No, the train stops and then slowly goes to the station. We haven’t reached it yet.”
At 9:55pm the train reaches the station and at the click of a button the door thankfully opens. I have seen rush in the Delhi metro even at 10pm, I have seen a crowded local train station in Mumbai at all times; I was taken aback when I found that the platform was devoid of people. “Are we at a sub-urb? Is it too late to be traveling alone?”

I waited for my classmates Harsh and Vinay, who would be attending their studex program at Copenhagen Business School. It was when we met that I realized Hellerup is actually a safe residential area – an “upscale area” to use their house owner’s words.

When I was packing my bags and getting prepared for my Euro trip I was haunted by the fact that two Indians from IIM Calcutta lost their laptops, passports and eurail pass in Copenhagen. It was a relief to realize that I reached the Copenhagen residence of my friends with my entire luggage intact. Well there are two more journeys to cover with no one but myself and my luggage – I keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

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