They have been traveling for nearly three months and now their road now takes them from Europe and into Turkey. Manas looks back.
Today was a ride from Thessaloniki till Akontisma- an ancient village close to Kavala in Greece. Today I saw the sun set- for the last time in Europe- along our journey. We rode out of Thessaloniki this morning. Thessaloniki, the city with a tumultuous history. Thessaloniki, the city that seems to treat the remains from its past with callous disregard… somewhat like we Indians treat our own heritage. But it was cruel to see buildings that backed into ancient remains, graffitis spray painted over rich heritage… especially in this land of great philosophers and heroes- Greece.
We crossed much beauty- hills, mountains, plains, farms, lakes and oceans. The motorbike was truly our messiah- a catalyst that participated in the chemistry but remained independent nevertheless. And like in our previous rides, we experienced humanity once again, today. A supermarket sales lady gifted us bananas, Gianni the artist gifted us a pair of ceramic swallows while Eleni his wife made a parcel of treats for our road. What could we offer in return? What else except a bit of human connection- the thread that binds humanity together- today, just like in the times past. But these connections were meaningful- like patches of shade… little stops along our journey down the long road. And as I watched the world go by, I followed the twin white lines through the last mile that led us up to Akontisma- the 3000+ year old village and our home for tonight. We walked the ancient amphitheatre, the stone walls and one of the ancient homes was ours, tonight.
Today was in a sense our last ride through Europe. The last nearly three months have been simply incredible- a practical hands on tour encompassing history, geography, religion, architecture, cultures, rise and fall of civilizations, contemporary politics… and above all glimpses into the worlds of people across this vast continent.
It feels as if the experience of several lifetimes have been compressed into these short months for us. How can I even begin to summarize the richness and the depth of this experience- or how it has changed me. Perhaps the only way to put it would be to say that now I am quieter from within, more reflective, little more of a listener.
I feel quieter from within- I feel this now more as the days pass by. I listen more, think more, speak less. I am hungry for insights- and feel impatient when I lose / waste time without gaining something.
I have been offered the window into many souls, during this ride- some who are happy go lucky, some others that live for the moment, and many that are trapped in their worlds- but there are a few who dedicate themselves towards goals of their own choosing. With each of these people, I found a resonance: perhaps because a part of me is like them. They have led me into their world. I have absorbed. I have not judged. Simply witnessed it. And thanked them for sharing their lives with me- a stranger.
This evening I watched the last sunset from Europe (for the trip). I took my last dip in the sea (from Europe). And as I sunk into its salty waters, I made a small prayer to the sea: “Please heal me- from the baggage of Europe, from any samskaras that I carry, from any viewpoints either Indian or European. Let me just be. Because tomorrow I will be amongst the Ottomans in Turkey. A totally different culture, different race and with their unique approach to life and living. Tomorrow let me just be… a blank slate- curious, impressionable, absorbent, thirsty. Not judgemental, and certainly not with mental blocks.
When I came out of the sea I felt slightly melancholy- a deep brooding silence was within me. Because it is not easy to let go- sometimes subconsciously you tend to get affiliate. And as I rest my head upon the pillow, I mumble the same prayer once again… “Tomorrow let me just BE… a blank slate- curious, impressionable, absorbent, thirsty.”