Ignoring a bad feelingLet´s start with the bad feeling as this experience also happened prior to the good one. Both of them happened in India where I was travelling by myself for 3 months. Travelling alone as a woman you have to be careful – especially when it comes to guys. That´s what I learned a rather not so nice way. When I went to Bodhgaya, I went out alone one evening to get something to eat. Like many times before, a random guy stopped his motorbike right next to me and started to talk. At first, I didn´t really want to engage in this conversation. I had a very weird feeling about him from the beginning, everything inside me told me to just go away from this person. This feeling was clear from the start. I went on my way, but the guy kept driving next to me on his bike asking me questions. I replied very shortly, wanted to get this conversation over with as soon as possible. However, at one point we came to talk about my visa and how I needed to go to Nepal to get a second visa to stay in India. He told me he was working with tourists all the time and could help me to get my visa quite quickly. That peaked my interest. Even though I knew I should have just walked away, I stopped and we started to talk for a bit. Finally, he offered to drive me around on the countryside the next day. Since he already offered to help me, I thought he really might be nice and told myself I shouldn´t be too judgemental. But there was something off about this guy. When I looked him in the eyes, I could see that his intentions weren´t pure, that there was hidden agenda behind. If you practise a bit, you will soon see if someone has your best interest in mind or not. If people are hiding something from you, you will see it in their eyes. You will see they will not be entirely open with you. And this guy was definitely not open with me at all. Furthermore, he was a rich businessman, bragging about all the land he bought and the hotels he was planning to build when right beside him people were starving on the streets. Something that, to him, was just “their own fault”, he said shaking his shoulders. However, this was it for our meeting the first day. The next day, I had breakfast with my Italian and Indian friend. They also wanted to go to the place the guy had proposed to show me the day before and I suggested going all together. But this guy didn´t want to. By no means he wanted us to go all together. He begged and pleaded to see me alone, then even sent his little brother to pick me up and separate me from my friends. His brother just came in the right moment when I needed an ATM and my friends wanted to go somewhere else. So, this seemed convenient at first. With his brother I went on to look for a working ATM – which can be hard to find in some cities. Finally, we found it, I collected my money and just wanted to go home. However, when I mentioned I just wanted to go back to my hostel and sleep for a bit, the little brother seemed very upset “No, no!”, he insisted, “Come with me and I show you a beautiful place and you can sleep there.” I really just wanted to go back, but he didn´t give up and I was tired of arguing after a while. So, I went with him. Which was a big mistake. As with his brother I instantly knew there was something off about this small, skinny guy. I also knew my gut feeling was telling me, again, not to go with him. But, again, I didn´t listen. We went on to the countryside, drove further and further away from the city. The place we were about to go was 25 kilometres away from the city, Bodhgaya, so that was quite a ride. Around us just local villages. No means of public transport anymore. Just village after village, simple houses made out of straw and clay. That´s when it started to get uncomfortable. He started by asking if I was married which I replied I am not. Saying to have a boyfriend didn´t seem to have any value at all. Not being married basically meant being single to him. Soon, he started calling me “my darling” and assured me “he would do anything for me”. I was sitting behind him on a motorcycle and he continued to grab my hand and pet it, told me to come closer and hug him tightly – which I refused as I got more than enough warning signs already. I got more and more uncomfortable and worried as we were driving further and further away from the city. It was a 25 kilometres drive on the Indian countryside. There was nothing around me. I wouldn´t even have known the way back. I also had no signal in the middle of nowhere. I couldn´t even have talked to people there – it was the deepest countryside – nobody here would speak English. So, I had to stick to this guy if I wanted to get back to the city again. The thoughts of running away already crossed m mind, jumping of the bike and trying to call my friends to pick me up before it was too late. This guy just got pushier and pushier every minute I was on this bike seemed like an hour. Soon he almost demanded me to kiss him. When I told him a very clear no from my side, he got really offended and stayed quiet for a bit. After a while, he started again and tried to assure me that it was a completely normal thing to do and any girl so far had done it. I couldn´t help but laugh at him – yes, for sure, every other girl had. What a lady’s man. On top of that, his brother kept calling him, the two of them seemed to fight a long time over the phone as the older brother had wanted to take me to the place the younger brother was already taking me. Both of them seemed to have the same interest, so I already knew I would not see either of them again once I got out of here. Finally, we reached our destination. The Buddha cave. There, he told me to go up to the cave alone while he would wait downstairs. I already thought I was not going back with this guy, already thinking about just joining a tourist group and going home with them when suddenly my Italian and Indian friend appeared right in front of me! I was so relieved to see them, I couldn´t believe it. In the arms of my Italian friend I started to cry, letting out all the stress, anxiety and frustration and all kinds of mixed emotions I was just experiencing. My friends gave me some time to calm down, to go into the cave and meditate and finally I got back to a calm and quiet space. They took me with them and told the guy I would stay with them from now on. I can´t even put into words how incredibly thankful I was for my friends showing up there. Without them, I have no idea what I would have done. This, however, was a very valuable lesson for me. From now on, I told myself, I would always listen to my feeling, which to this point in time always proved to be right.
Following a good feelingThis story is definitely a happier one. Which starts right at the airport in Chennai, in the south-east of India. I had just flown from Kathmandu to New Delhi, then from New Delhi to Chennai and was exhausted after a long journey. When I went out of the plane, I had no place to stay and as I had checked my budget before and got a little shock of what I still had left to continue my journey. So, I decided to sleep in the airport to save money and continue my trip from there in the morning. Then, right on the bus from the airplane to the terminal, an Indian guy next to me asked me where I was heading. I told him about my plans of going to Auroville, which was close to Chennai and eventually the conversation came to “So – did you book a hotel yet?” I explained him I would just sleep in the airport and that it wasn´t a big deal. He seemed shocked and offered me to come along with him and his friend to stay in a hotel. He told me I couldn´t possibly think of sleeping at the airport, that this was not a nice place for me and that I could trust him. First, I was very sceptical. Still having the previous story in mind, I wasn´t sure if accepting would be such a smart idea. However, this time I had a different feeling about the guy. I didn´t get any weird vibes or hidden intentions from him. Indeed, he just seemed like a person wanting to help. However, people like that are rare, so I wasn´t sure whether or not this experience was real or not. Usually, people want something in return. So, I started thinking what that could be. It´s quite sad, when I am thinking back now, how programmed we are to automatically assume the worst. This guy had presented himself as a lawyer, even gave me his card, which again gave me a bit more reassurance. He seemed like someone standing up for a good cause. I also just felt there was a good person standing in front of me, who just wanted to help me out of his heart. When I looked him in the eyes I didn´t see any hidden agenda. Just the pure will to help. And then there is the rule of karma he explained to me. Helping me would be a good deed for him and he would be rewarded with good karma later on. Now, he said, he was able to help me, so he wanted to do it. If he might help in the future, I could help him out later. He also didn´t push me in any way. He simply offered and gave me a choice. An offer I accepted in the end and went with the two friends to their hotel. They even had their own driver take them there. When we stopped and walked into the hotel I couldn´t believe my eyes at first. The hotel was very nice – and certainly more expensive than I could afford at this point. I was blown away that someone would just invite me to such a nice place and – on top of that – pay for my meals as well! Certainly, this was a much nicer way to spend the night than the airport. Even though I didn’t get much sleep this night either as we were having dinner at 3am in the morning, talking and getting to know each other. They wanted to know why I´m travelling, how I liked India, which places I had been to before and so on. Then they also told me about their case they went to the city for. As lawyers they were basically busy the whole time which made me appreciate their generosity and helpfulness even more. In the room, there was already an extra bed for me – and the two insisted for me to sleep in the normal one, not the improvised folding bed. I had some good rest and had breakfast with the two the next morning. Then, we went around the city a bit. I saw a little bit of Chennai then it was already time to move on. So, I packed my bag and my two new friends accompanied me to my bus. Even though they had a lot of work to do there they wanted to make sure that I reached my bus safely. I am so grateful to them as they helped me more than I could have ever imagined. I am still so blown away by how generous someone can be without expecting anything in return! Trusting my instincts had proven to be right here and I am very glad I listened to them. Otherwise, I would have missed out on wonderful people and a truly unique experience.
Thoughts on my experiencesEven if it might be hard to trust people sometimes, it is important to learn how to trust your instincts. If you have a weird feeling don´t think about it twice. Listen to it. Your first intuition is usually right. Learn how to use your feeling for a person. Some people might be easier to read, some harder, but with some practise you will soon know when to trust a person and when it´s rather good to be careful. I just know that ever since I listen to what I feel about a person I have more sense of if this person has a good intention towards me. If that person has my best interest in mind or only their own. Trusting my feeling had let me to a lot of wonderful experiences where some people might jump back scared, thinking there has to be a hidden agenda. We should not always automatically assume the worst. We should be careful, of course. Being naïve and trusting anyone will not get you very far. But trusting no one and closing yourself of from new experiences and new connections is also not the right way. Find your golden middle. Find how you feel comfortable, find out when you feel comfortable with a person. And then decide whether to trust them or not based on how you feel. In the end, you know yourself better than anyone. You might as well listen to the expert.