This is not a normal travel story, this is an adventure that explores what’s humanly possible when we live by giving to others. This journey will take us deep into rural and remote southern India through difficulties, love and lessons that changed me fundamentally as a human. I promise to present the facts in an honest way, how you interpret what happened is completely up to you.
I touch down in Mumbai, India at around 5am. After hearing so many damn stories about getting tricked as a traveller you tend to take an overly cautious attitude at first. I notice a pre-paid taxi rank and happily walk towards the counter. There are confusions with our first interactions. The information I had from the couch surfer Fahad only outlined block number 19 and the street. So I gave him a call and he woke to hear me on the other end. “Sorry to have woken you Mate, this is Pete. I’ve just landed but this taxi guy doesn’t know where to go. Can you help him?” He slowly regains consciousness and explains where to go.
I jump in the back of the rickety rickshaw and arrive through dark alleyways with stray cats chasing rats. The driver assures me this is the place, I thank him and slowly make my way to the stairs. I hope I’ve come to the right house I think to myself! This is 5am and I could be interpreted as an intruder…
I cautiously climb 5 flights of wet moist stairs, knock on the door and thankfully my couch surfer friend answers with a sleepy smile not a samurai sword. “You must be tired” he says, here come this way I’ll show you where you’ll be sleeping. He takes me into what looks like an everything room where kitchen, storage and living room are all combined. He asks me to put my stuff down and pulls off one of the mattresses from his brother’s bed in the other room. We chat a little but I’m exhausted. I tell him I need to get some rest as I hadn’t slept a wink on the plane due to excitement and anticipation. Unaware of who else was in the house, the sound of the broken fan above sends me to sleep.
I wake to find a fat bellied man looking down the end of his glasses with a surprised look on his face. “Who are you!?” he asks. I wake out of my daze to say “My name’s Pete and I’m a couch surfer staying with your son”. He quickly relaxes his face and says that his son had failed to mention there would be new travellers this morning. He quickly lets it slide and welcomes me in with a fresh cup of chai tea (keeping in mind I am not this mans couch surfer). To him he had no previous knowledge that I’d be coming. He then asks me where I’d like to go today.
After getting the maps out he asks if I’d like to share an apple with him. Strange, yet subtle offer of selfless giving except coming from him! I thought I was going to be doing the giving?