I was absolutely exhausted after my four business meetings in last seven hours; same presentation, talking to people about nothing but business, projects, practicality and lots of money is really gruesome. But after a busy working day, if you still decide to sit in a bolted hotel room, it even makes you feel more sickening. So like every evening, I decided to take a small gait around my hotel. It is my routine now; in Santiago, a small gait means three to four miles easily and you never get bored of walking miles and miles on the road. Believe me or not, you experience best of the life on these roads or particular on this road to Santiago.
On the same road only, I met a Brazilian-cum-Chilean-cum-Colombian musician, talking to me in Hindi about A.R. Rehman and song ‘Roza’, which made my Indian heart proud of our music and heritage. He invited me to his concert the next day and made me believe that music is truly a universal language which can even make Indian feet dance on Spanish melodies.
Sitting in the veranda of Spanish learning institute, I met this Bolivian girl studying political-science in University of Santiago with scholarship, working part-time at a restaurant to support her studies, learning English, French and Portuguese while teaching Spanish at the same institute, parties everyday but whenever she goes to sleep, she thinks of her farmer parents back in Bolivia who works hard every day from early dawn to late evening, just to earn two meals and support her in every way they can. She had dreams in her eyes and been brave enough to leave her comfort zone, and chase those dreams, no matter how hard is the ride going to be.
When I walked few blocks to the downtown of Santiago, I met a civil engineer from America’s best college, sitting on the road, sketching and painting life. When I asked him what his real ambition is, he got confused. He said nothing and then I was confused. He said, ‘I paint and sketch because I love it, now anywhere life takes me, I hardly care.’ He used to live in a 20 dollar per day hostel with some other crazy people like him who does nothing but what they love. I felt life could be so easy without planning a future, only working on and in present.
When I walked few hundred kilometers towards the west to Santiago, I met an environment science student, a tree lover in Valparaiso, camouflaged in a tree, standing at a tourist place in Viña del Mar all day, earning some pesos every day during her vacations, but whatever she does is not for money but she truly believes in the idea of saving trees, saving environment and saving earth. I asked her why you need this, when Chileans are already so environment friendly, riding bicycles to the offices and keeping their streets and roads clean. She told me, ‘it’s’ not something I am doing for gaining anything.’ ‘I am doing it because I believe in it.’
Down to Valparaiso, I met a wonderful dancing man, selling fresh shrimps on the road with his mom and he doesn’t want to get married whole his life because he loves his mother too much that he doesn’t want to share himself with some other person in his life. On the contrary, his single mother wants him to get married and start his life so that she can die in peace. The most important person in my life is my mother so his story touched me and left me crying with his mother.
I met scientists, doctors, artists in Santiago whom US Government issues thousands of green cards, inviting them to live in US but Chileans leave them completely disappointed as no Chilean wants to leave his/her country, which I feel true patriotism is. No matter how good or bad their country is, they would not leave it. These people are no different than any of us but still for me they were extra-ordinary. Living their lives the way they want to, no goals in life but still passions to die for, less money but more satisfaction, less comfort but more happiness, eyes full of dreams, hearts filled with love, no planning but insane optimism. These are and these were the people I met on the road to Santiago. People who are not Chileans, Americans, Brazilians, Indians or Latinos, they were people passionate about what they have and what they are doing in their lives, respecting 4 or 5 decades of time which we all call our lives…Meeting People – On the Road to Santiago…