The world is a beautiful place!

Broadly, travelers or tourists rather can be divided into two main categories. The vacationers and the real travelers. A vacationer looks for luxury at every corner. While a true traveler loves to navigate himself…whether be on foot or on a two wheeler. He does not believe in taking cabs or looking for comfort. I belong to the latter category.

Last to last year I went to Greece with my wife. Apart from Athens, we were supposed to explore two islands: Paros and Santorini. Paros is rather large while Santorini is small. However our itinerary was elsewise. We were just for a single day in Paros while we had 3 days in Santorini. And we had planned to explore both the islands on a two wheeler.

We had gone to Greece during its economic meltdown and I had underestimated their law. When I went to hire a scooty in Paros, they rejected me at first. Reason? My indecipherable driving license. Yes, my license was archaic. I had got it made during college time and at that period driving licenses were printed in Hindi in Uttar Pradesh. The motor rental person refused to accept my license. I however managed to convince him to let me hire his scooty for a day. Good old persuasion tactics of mine. Thanks to the days of endless flirting 😃
My BMW bike in Paros
The scooty proved to be our ultimate companion in Paros. We fathomed the length and breadth of the entire island in 24 hours. My wife was looking forward to the same riding experience in her dream land Santorini.
When we arrived in Santorini the next day, I was pretty much confident that I would be able to hire a two wheeler. Our B n B owner’s son had a huge motor rental right next to the B n B. We reached there in the afternoon and then after ‘checking in’ the first thing I did was I went to Mike’s rental.
Mike was pretty huge (just like John, his dad) and looked scary. Before even telling me the rates, he asked for my license. As soon as he glanced at it, he threw it on the floor. ‘What is this? Is it a joke? I can’t even understand whether its written that you are a criminal!’ I told him that back in India, Hindi is the official language and every legal thing is written in Hindi. He bluntly said that Hindi documents may work there but not in Greece. When I gave my previous Paros reference, he said that law and order in Santorini is much stricter than in less touristy Paros. ‘No way I am giving you my scooty for rent’. Crestfallen, I went to Dad John to convince him. Since we were his houseguests, maybe he could assure his son of our credibility. Sadly John said that he did not interfere where legal matters were concerned. So it was a failure for me.
I was dead scared to tell my wife. She was already angry enough as to why I did not renew my license. When I told her what had happened, she shrunk into a shell. We were staying in Perissa, the East coast of Santorini. We had plans of exploring the whole island on scooty. Without it, we were clueless as to what to do. That evening we explored Perissa on foot. The next three days would be challenging.
Thankfully, the bus stop was right next to our B n B. We woke up early next morning and boarded the bus to Fira, the capital of Santorini. I assured my wife that Fira being a larger place would definitely have more rental options. She was almost in tears when our bus started. The fares were pretty high too.
The reason for going to Fira was pretty simple. Firstly the capital city is the most beautiful part of Santorini. Secondly the buses to other parts of the island were available from there. Lastly (fingers crossed) there were more rental shops. I was positive that I would get a bike.
After a journey of an hour, I was turned away from three different places. All of them had thrown away my ‘so called license’. Wife was furious. We could see one more rental shop nearby. I decided to try my luck for the final time. We saw a pretty girl and a man inside. We were speculating on their relationship when an idea struck me. I decided to unleash the makeshifter in me. We waited for the man to disappear from the reception and we went inside when that pretty girl was there alone.
I politely greeted her and then started a harmless conversation. Turned out she was Maria (the commonest Greek name). I told her that we were from India and we were in love with her country. I also started bragging about ‘our India’ when I suddenly brought up Bollywood. My previous experiences say that people usually lit up on hearing SRK or Amitabh. She was no exception. She was crazy about Bollywood and ‘Om Shanti Om’ was her favourite. Bingo! I had hit jackpot. I engaged her in a baffling conversation about Bollywood while my wife filled out the form, completed the formalities and then paid the security and advance. At last, I took out my ‘License’ and handed over to her. She was so captivated about Bollywood that she did not even look at it! We got the bike at last! My formula worked!
With Maria who came into our lives as an angel and made Santorini the best destination of our lives!

When it was time to bid goodbye, she called out her ‘Papa’ to tell us about her Indian customers who entertained her with stories of Bollywood and Om Shanti Om. Little her Papa knew that his daughter had committed a cardinal sin of renting his bike to a couple who did not have an international license. Anyways the bottom line is that we got our bike for three days! This incident may particularly resonate with married men as they can imagine my plight if I was unable to arrange a bike for my wife! Travelling teaches you new things everyday. You could be thrown into an unexpected situation anytime. This incident taught me never to lose hope and try every card on the sleeve!
Those three days were the best of our lives. We traversed every corner, every turn and every street of Santorini in those 72 hours. Thanks to our luck (and efforts) I managed to rent the bike and turned that vacation into the best one of our lives!

Being a world traveler has taught me to be more open minded. I have learnt to expect the unexpected and that has made me fall in love with this world even more! The world is really very beautiful both literally and figuratively. The serene nature everywhere, architectural heritage of different places and the different people make this earth a heaven. I am privileged to be a citizen of this world.
P.S I don't want to sound sexist but once again it was proved that pretty girls are dumb. Who's complaining though? 😉


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