Looking back at my visit to Europe, I feel, as if I had been “The Alice” in that “Wonderland”! It was a magical experience! I say magical for, I could witness and feel the magic unfurl before me.
Tell me! Has anyone ever passed the whole year in about just two weeks? I have! Has anyone ever felt happy and elated just looking at some window from outside? I have! There are many more such unusual instances which I’ve snuggled in my heart forever. I wish I get the opportunity to bring them out in this dazzling sunshine to let their glories shine even more brightly! I’m back from my wonder trip to Europe and I must confess that I’m in a state of hypnosis.
The Summer heat of Italy, gently folding into Spring sunshine of Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Leichtenstein and Germany, quietly announced the advent of Winter cold of Switzerland, especially that of Mt. Titlis and Jungfraujoch, to finally blend into that grand Monsoonal downpour of England – was like experiencing all the four seasons of the whole year at one go ,in two weeks. Travel continues to become faster and more convenient with every passing day, isn’t it?
“How small the world has become!”, I thought. Of course, we are closer in terms of time but felt, that we are distant still, in the understanding of other nations, their culture and their social system and felt an urgent need for a true understanding, communication and heart to heart exchange between people of the world. But how can one achieve that with a prejudiced mind? I know India is all we yearn for, live for, exert for because we love India. It is the land of our birth, our faith and our pride. For its sake our forefathers died. I know we all have pledged our head, heart and hands to our beloved motherland and we’re proud to be an Indians. It is here, that the ethical and moral values are taught to us when we are still toddlers, even before we enter our formal system of education. With so much of spiritual richness why do some of us still become judgemental and linger on in the narrow lanes of rude, mean and baseless comparisons? I felt bad though but then thought, it is foolish to stay in conflicting minds at the dawn of 21st century.
“The gulf between the hearts must be bridged… and bridged carefully!” I thought. But as a tourist, what could I do! Moreover, whatever I did would be a drop in the huge fathomless ocean.
“So what! I said to myself, “when the sun shines, all is bathed in the light of hope and flowers of happiness bloom in fruition. In my heart let me announce the arrival of spring. So, when I’m the sun, I must shine brightly. Since actions speak louder than words, I determined that through my thoughts, words and action I’ll do my best to bring about, a slight shift in the attitude of my fellow travellers.” As W. Churchill once said that a small shift in one’s attitude makes a big difference. I decided to become the change to usher in a little change.
All my research on Europe before leaving for the trip became a handy tool, as I almost gradually assumed the role of a tour guide. I think our co passengers liked it for I found them buying diaries and noting down things, as I and my husband joyfully spoke of The Golden European past. Here I learnt that nothing in life ever goes wasted. Our fellow passengers flocked around us as we spoke and would want us to go on and on. We gained hugely – many friends- from different corners of India! I thought myself to be a tiny cog in the giant wheel of humanity, but here I felt,I was weaving a beautiful tapestry of friendship! It was for the first time I realised what it means to be a change.
Europe has had a long standing history of glory and tragedy. After the World War II, people of these nations realised the need of political and economic union in order to enhance their scope of fresh potentials in every aspect of their lives. Rebuilding the city of Cologn from rubbles stood before me as a shinning example. I bowed my head in deep reverence to those stalwarts of peace. I actually stood witness to the fact that how diverse people and nations of Europe can live together in peace and mutual prosperity and harmony! It’s nothing but the result of fruition of United Europe or European Communion, as we know. Isn’t it worth appreciating? One can travel to any European country with just one visa, isn’t it unique that the concept of national borders have almost melted? Same currency through out (except in Switzerland and U.K), isn’t that convenient? I mean there is so much more! And all point to one thing, the absolute denouncement of war and a big “NO” to the occurance of its tragic aftermaths, by the people of Europe. It was their way of saying, “That’s enough! No more war, no more tears, We Declare!” Well, This is how I felt! What we dream here, was seen as a reality there and we know such significant changes never come by without lofty human spirits. Hence, there was no other way for me but to embrace and manifest a broad and an expansive life state. I tried, as best I could.
Leaving their painful past behind, the people of Europe are now engaged in spreading warmth and happiness around. To my surprise, I was captivated by the beauty of colourful flowers in the pots kept outside each and every window of every apartment and house. It brought loads of cheerful smiles to our lips. It expressed their happy state of lives and their deep sense of appreciation of humanity, their sense of peace and fulfilment. What strong desire for the happiness of all people! What a way to refresh and cheer up people around! How kind! How caring! How encouraging! To have a better view of those flowers when I went a bit closer to one of the windows I was touched and humbled, for there stood in between those small flower beds, small crayon paintings, which I’m sure, had been the work of art of the little ones of that family. Amazingly, I found those paintings kept changing every morning, where ever I went, it was just the same. How inspiring! “What a fine way of character building in a fun filled play way method!” I thought. And I couldn’t hold back those overflowing emotions and my heart went out to our children back home in India, where many children do not even know the meaning of childhood! And I rasped out a silent plea “Not any more! I’ll stand alone for them and with them! So what if no one follows! My life will make some difference in their lives from now on!” This thought jolted me, as if Alice had returned from her deep slumber! And as I travelled along the Black Forest, looking forward to the cruise on the famous river Rhine singing slowly “Abide with me, Fast falls the even tide! The darkness deepens, oh Lord with me abide!” I felt my spirits soar and nothing appeared to be a constraint any more. I felt the joys of my mission and satisfied. You know why I chose to sing that song? This song was written by Henery F. Lyte(1847), while sailing on the same river Rhine and this was his last immortal creative work, written a couple of days before his death. …and I simply love it!