I still remember that feeling while we took this selfie, that rush in our blood, that exuberance in our hearts and a feeling of freedom like I had never felt before. The wind slapping our faces, the chill reaching our bones. And we, the three twenty-year-olds, their arms crossed, sauntering along the paved ways of Amsterdam, an overcast sky over our heads – different shades of grey – having the first abroad trip of our lives. A trip to remember. And a trip that almost got canceled.
Why this selfie is so dear to me? You will know reading the below.
That story started out like this.
By the time I reached the end of the first year of my professional life, I was sure that I had ended up in a wrong sector, in a totally uninspiring job. My life had come to a standstill, every day felt a drag and I for the first time in my life felt trapped, a failure in my life.
But as I was brought up in a strict family background, the trait of following the rules was embedded deep into my bones. While the other colleagues were cutting corners and finding time to prepare for the various entrance exams, I was standing & running around on the shop floor, day and night, ensuring to contribute in meeting the stiff production targets.
So when my best friends Sahil and Varun conferenced me on a call and said, “let’s go abroad on a trip,” I first scoffed at him for their outlandish plan. We were just one year out of college and moreover I was busy as hell. “Not gonna happen until I’m here,” I remember telling them. More than that I was gripped with the inertia of this job that I started thinking I will never get out of this.
“Everything we will handle” Sahil had said, “just apply for the leaves now. Your boss will not say no as it is two months from now.” And he was right, my leaves were approved in a week.
In two months came the long weekend around which the plan was laid out.
As I was going to be on leave for a full week, my boss, a tall and broad-shouldered Sardar, was making me slog day after day fully knowing I won’t complain. And moreover, I wasn’t going to risk my vacation by upsetting him. For he was the only Sardar I had ever met in my life who wasn’t funny.
Everything was going alright. And I was already seeing dreams of enjoying my first vacation in Amsterdam.
But just three days before my vacation was to begin, my boss called me to his cabin and told me that I have to urgently go to Lucknow for a service campaign. “It’s urgent,” I heard him saying, “and the defects are from your line. So you have to go.” I was brought back to reality.
When I told my friends about this a gloom enveloped all the three of us.
I had lied to my boss about the details of my vacation. (A European vacation seemed something he would say no at once considering it was critical time for production – it was the first year of Nano Production and we ha our backs against the walls.) Not telling him the full details of my plan appeared to be a big mistake. But I had to tell him now and bear the fury of his anger.
When I told him he looked at me with grave eyes he had, and I could still remember that anxiousness in my heart, he could create a big issue out of all this. And then impossible happen. He smiled and patted my back and asked me in his heavy, but for the first time in a gentle voice: “Get me Swiss chocolates.”
When I was running out of the shop floor I remember a tear had trickled down my eyes. And by the evening I was racing out to board the train to the Delhi Airport where we all three friends would assemble to board the flight to Europe. Our first flight abroad.
I have known Sahil and Varun for over ten years.
We are childhood friends. And we have shared so many things together. From our first swigs of beers to the stories of our first heartbreaks. Many class bunks when we were in school that led to more interesting stories than the movies we watched. And now this trip. It is a friendship for the lifetime.
We joined at the Delhi Airport, hugged and laughed, and then ran to get our boarding passes, and dreamy-eyed as it was first abroad trip, boarded the plane, still not believing that we have managed it. It was a night flight and we all were sleep deprived, so after gossiping for a few hours, we slipped into a deep sleep. When we woke up, the flight had started its descent.
We landed at the Amsterdam Airport and saw the European Sky through the skylight Openings in the airport. It was chilly and we realised that in last-minute rush we were not fully dressed for the cold. But who cared for cold! It was the time of our lives.
It was then we took that selfie – just at the exit gate of the airport.
This selfie of us, starry-eyed, still not believing we have landed. And suddenly we were teenagers again. Our hearts pounding against our chests, our spirits sky high, and without thinking, we stopped, took out a camera and captured that moment and every moment that made it possible, in that selfie.
The selfie experience could have been better if we had a dual selfie camera which captures a wide-angle shot. Years later I came to know that such cameras are coming even in mobiles (Mobiistar being at the forefront. It is soon going to be available on Flipkart now.) A wider shot would have allowed us to capture more of the breathtaking scenery behind us. Imagine in one shot the entire view of the tulip gardens in different colors! Or the mesmerising view of the blue water of Spanish beaches (our next stop in the vacation) in full view with the help of such Camera. Only if Mobiistar was there then.
As we continued our trip to Barcelona the weather warmed up and we slipped into our swimming suits and ventured onto the sandy shores of Costa Brava. There we enjoyed the warmth of the sun on our backs, the clean sand below our feet, the salty taste of water on our lips, the waves sometimes lapping up waist high, and sometimes kissing our toes and amidst all this we, the three best friends, jumping up and down, finding our childhood again.
A selfie experience of a lifetime.
And this is the reason I love this selfie – a selfie which has a story, not just about that trip, but everything that preceded it, our friendship, our lives before it, and the confidence that this trip gave me that I can break the routine, that I can do what I really want.
One more from Barcelona.
Also published on Medium.