Our world is an interesting place it is a kaleidoscope of cultures and every time we meet people from different parts of the world it is a great learning experience.
As a world traveller I have discovered that travel is the best teacher. Travel makes me open minded and more receptive. Travelling has made me love the world the way it is and each trip that I take is a travel inspiration for my next journey.
If you want to know about a place you could read a book but going there and exploring the place, interacting with the people has no match. So for me Travel is the tonic that rejuvenates both my body and mind.
So I make it a point to take frequent breaks and travel far and wide.
Even though I have traveled a lot in Europe and my travels have taken me to as far as Africa but for some reason going to the United Kingdom had been a trip that I had been putting off for a very long time.
This is despite the fact that United Kingdom had been on top of my travel bucket list for a very long period of time.
Perhaps the reason for not taking the trip was that everyone said that it is very difficult to get a U.K VISA and once they reject your VISA there would be a big VISA rejected mark on my passport and it would mean an end to my travels as no country would give their VISA to me if I had a U.K VISA rejected on my Passport.
However It was a fear I had to face and after doing all the necessary paperwork I applied for the British VISA. Next few days were very tense and full of anxiety as I waited to get an answer to my VISA application.
When I got an intimation to collect my envelope I went with baited breath. I was nervous and sweating.
I could hear my heart pounding and I could hear it beating so loud when I opened the envelope that contained my passport.
I flipped through the pages and reached the page where it had my photograph and the a VISA to travel to the United Kingdom had been granted to me!
I was elated and my joy knew no bounds.
When my friends came to know about this achievement of mine they demanded a party.
I realized suddenly my value had increased in my friends circle as if I had cleared the IAS exams or had topped the University.
As I started packing for my trip I did come across some people who told me numerous instances of cases where the British immigration officials send you back from the airport itself if you are not able to answer their questions to their satisfaction.
This meant that there was a final hurdle.
I had cleared the theory paper buy a VIVA-VOCA remained and I actually dreaded this a lot because it would be downright embarrassing if the immigrating officials were to send me back from the airport.
Not only would I lose face but having made the booking at the hotel and paid for other travel arrangements it would mean a big loss financially as well.
So when I boarded the flight to London from India this played heavily on my mind.
When I reached the airport there was a huge line at the immigration. I thought the long line would only extend my ordeal but the line moved quickly and smoothly.
When I reached the immigration official I extended my passport to him. The immigration official was a bespectacled gentleman who flipped through my passport and glanced at me in between.
He asked me a few questions about my travel itinerary which I promptly replied.
He was a middle aged man with salt and pepper hair professional yet friendly. He put me at ease with his behavior. He even complimented me and said I spoke perfect English.
Coming from a British gentleman I take it as a compliment.
However then he said something that stumped me.
He said give me your “Dahina Angutha”
I must confess I had prepared a lot for this moment but I had no idea what he was asking for. Was this some document that I should have brought that was missing from the passport or travel documents.
Then he came closer to the glass pane that stood between me and him and said “Mujhe Apna Dahina Angutha Dijiye” I was still perplexed and blank and then it struck me that he was speaking to me in Hindi my mother tongue. It was clear and perfect Hindi but I was so taken aback and totally did not expect a British Gentleman speak to me in such good Hindi.
So I had to mentally translate the sentence word by word to understand that he wanted me to extend my right thumb for the biometric validation.
As I extended my thumb towards the biometric scanner I complimented the immigration officer about his perfect Hindi and the fact was at that instant he spoke better Hindi then me and since I did not expect to be spoken in Hindi I almost failed to understand my own mother tongue.
He smiled at me and I felt relaxed and saw a warm human being at the other side of the glass panel.
Another stereotype of the stiff British upper lip was broken and I felt so welcomed in a totally new country.
I sailed through the immigration and stepped into the London city.
A city that is very cosmopolitan and here I found people always ready to help you.
You get food from practically every part of the world and you cannot possibly go hungry.
There is only one thing that…
Going to London just once is not enough. You need a lot of time to explore this beautiful city because it is like a world withing a world warm charming and with lots to see and explore.