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Abha’s Journey with This Guy’s On His Own Trip

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Once upon a time, in the year 2013, I quit my job and went off to Spain. Like Farhan and Hrithik and Abhay, I ran with the bulls. But I also went to Croatia and Italy. When I came back to India, I was asked to speak at a travel cafe in Delhi.

And that is when our protagonist, Abha Nirula, walked into the cafe and the story.

If there was a light breeze when she walked in, we would not know, for our hero was busy lagaoing kursis for people coming in as the audience. If there were violins playing, we would not know, because we were too busy discussing how many cups of chai to prepare.

She was just 19 years old then, a slim almost skinny college girl, with specs, and a big smile. They didn’t speak much there. She left after the session, hopefully happy listening to the stories.

Over the years, he started his travel company. She occasionally asked him for a few itineraries but never joined a trip.

Three years later, in 2016, National Geographic India asked him to speak at their pilot event in Delhi.She came again, without any violins or zephyrs. She left after the session again, hopefully happy listening to the stories.

And then in 2019, she decided to go with him to Bhutan.

A day before the trip, as he went through all the names, he noticed hers. And remembered her as the girl who had been an acquaintance for six years now. The world had changed in those six years. He had too.

There were no violins again, at Bagdogra airport, when they landed. But over the next few days, he developed a huge affection for her. Let’s not call it love or romance; but an obnoxious amount of warmth and affection. You know how you just feel protective about some people and want to take care of them, pamper and bully them at the same time?! If you guys have never felt that, find it.

There was something about her, something rare. She had this constantly happy energy about her. Nothing flashy, nothing over the top, nothing dramatic, just happy. No gossip, no malice, and a heart that spoke to everyone, that listened to everyone. The specs were as big as they were in 2013, and the soul too was probably the same, but the personality had arguably blossomed a little more. She liked poetry. She had also learnt how to play the violin (well well well!). Her jokes were mostly terrible, but how do we underrate her overall innocence.

On Sep 14, it was her birthday and each tripper wrote her a beautiful message. She was happy, and it made us happy.

Two days later, as we drove to the airport we were all sad. We had all been discussing extending our trip, but at the end, nothing had come out of it. She was in a car that had left earlier and suddenly my phone beeped. “If I have to cancel my ticket, should I reschedule for 17th or 18th?” I kept smiling as I read the message. In the next half hour, with just two hours left for our flights, five of us cancelled the flights.

And headed to Pelling. For two more nights. In the mountains and mist. With cafes and dogs.

It took six years for us to spend nine days. Of course with 20 other beautiful people. It took six years, or was it just nine days, for me to know that you will always be a friend I will want to protect, pamper and bully.

If you guys have never felt it, find it.

All the love in the world to you, Abha.

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Neeraj Narayanan

Neeraj Narayanan, a.k.a Captain Nero, is the founder of OHOT. In the summer of 2013, he quit his corporate job and went backpacking around the world. In a year full of (mis)adventures, he ended up being chased by a bear in a Croatian forest, being held at gunpoint by a mafia gang lord in Turkey, running with the bulls in Spain, and dancing in the clubs of Spain and Italy. A year later, he started leading group trips for people.

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