I believe all world languages would be incomprehensible if not accompanied by gestures and smiles. I also believe all travelers agree with this plain statement. Undoubtedly it can trying, like when asking for directions to a hotel in Papua New Guinea or wondering about the cost of hiring a Land Cruiser in Socotra Island, but otherwise there is a lot of fun in trying to understand and err—being understood. It completes what can be called a proper communication!

Tomas, I and the Slovak

Tomas, I and the Slovak

But occasionaly, gestures get you on the move faster than words.

One such experience with this kind of ‘smile-wave-point’ communication happened on the Komodo Island, West Flores (Indonesia) after my first encounter with the Komodo dragons. It stay in memory for various reasons.

1. All visitors to the Island that day (totaling 15 in number, including five that made up my group) had had the good fortune of seeing the the dragons. (I was told, much later that visitors have several times returned without seeing them)

2. Everyone was dead tired from the long walks and the constant “ooooh…aaaaaaah” upon seeing the beasts. (Excitment can lead to exhaution)

3. Everyone missed home, friends, material comforts, shower, coffee…

4. Everyone as aware that the only faces they would see for the next two days would be that of the crew and the little groups in which we had arrived, namely 4-5 people per boat.

But the fifth reason was mine alone!

I was travelling with a group I had never known…having barely exchanged words with the Lativian family and my conversation with Mathias (the guide) was limited to asking about coffee, lunch and the Island. Therefore, I had valid reasons to seek out the two new faces that suddenly appeared on the Island (I had breifly seen them at the Labaun Bajo airport earlier in the day), and who now sat in the tiny ‘cafe’ (that dared to call itself a restaurant) on the Island, nursing a Bintang (Indonesian beer) looking very pleased with the world.

Heck, the sight of them was enough to want to start a conversation! I guess it was acceptable that a woman travelling by herself needed to talk, for whatever reason! But before I could start a conversation, Mathias introduced me to all others who trooped into the cafe for a quick something. He wrongly explained that I was an Indian (one could see that of course), travelling alone, come from far away (his ignorance of distances was forgivable) and was ‘researching’ Komodos! I wasn’t, of course, but when ten pairs of eyes are admiring your fortitude one doesn’t want to spoil the moment for them by telling them your real motive.

But I was curious to see the reaction of the “guys.” For some reason, they were smiling, a vacant, but encouraging kind of smile that suddenly made them (one more than the other though!) look even more handsome!

Eventually people wandered away, wanting to make the most of the fast fading lights. Then HE came over to me.

HE gave me his hand. Warm, strong, friendly, determined (there is a lot to be said about a handshake). HE was nearly ten inches taller than I and his green eyes (not blue as I earlier thought) smiled down at me. He murmured a name. (I shan’t mention the name here). The hands wouldnt let go…not that I had another hand to shake, of course. Only when I thought it was a decent enough time to withdraw, I said, rather shamelessly that I did want my hand back! His smile widened, as though disagreeing with me. The grip tightened. Well. I tried.

There was no harm in holding on to a hand for ever, right!

Only when Tomas, the other slightly lighter and shorter other, came over to give me his hand, did we let go. “He doesn’t speak English” Tomas declared unkindly. ” He is Slovakian.” I couldn’t care if was from Timbuktu of course. But a lot of things made sense. We were trying to have a conversation with our eyes and hands till then, but this revelation changed all of that. When he hugged me, our hearts spoke as well!

And suddenly the big, warm Slovak and I broke into a conversation.

It was all good fun, of course! Flirting is an ancient art, mastered by all and sundry and used in the most bizarre situation, and I suppose the situation I found myself in wouldn’t get any bizarre! Here I was, away from the world, shaking hands with a handsome Slovak who spoke

no English, on an Island reachable only after several hours of boat-ride through the unpredictable Indonesian sea and enjoying every bit of it. Somehow, I felt drawn to the warmth these guys practically radiated, adding only to the already hot and humid weather.

We walked around a bit, taking pictures, talking and understanding too…Tomas helped with the translations too and in that short interval of time betwwen evening and night when I missed my brothers a lot, three people from three corners of the world were bonded in a moment where tongues mattered little.

They chose to leave the same evening, back to the mainland for they had an early morning dive planned out. They pulled off their shirts and jumped into their boats, waving till they disappeared out of sight.


Before that, however, we managed a few pictures. Well, I had more than I bargained for. Instead of just having the protective arms of the big, silent Slovak, Tomas also joined in for a “group-hug”.

Heck you don’t need to know Polish to understand what that means!!


  • nandanjha says:

    Glad that you posted it. Guess Ghumakkar is evolving from a pure travel/tourist experience site to things more finer.

    Hope you run into your Slovak again. :-)

  • anjaly says:

    Oye! Thanks. I hope I dont run into him…unless I learn Slovakian or he learns English :-)

  • Celine says:

    Hey wait…
    “Flirting is an ancient art, mastered by all” you say?
    I am not sure of that..
    I think some are gifted with this skill rather than all…haha!
    Did I mention it’s more fun when it’s reciprocated intelligently and involves a bit of teasing and a lot of laughter?
    Sheesh! Sometimes I talk too much, don’t I? lol

    Btw, would it be a personal question if I ask what was your “real motive” that you did not divulge to the group?

    Lovely post.
    It kept me interested and amused.
    Keep writing Anjaly.:D

  • Celine says:

    Re: your reply to Nandan, why Anjaly?
    No need to learn English/Slovakian..
    The “language of the heart” is sufficient to

  • anjaly says:

    My real motive (innocent smile here) was to mere see the Komodo Dragons :-) The eye candy was unexpected you see! and Yu bet it was reciprocated. Remeber they left that evening and i reached mainland only two days later. but Labaun Bajo has very few hotels and all tourists end up at Golo Hill Top…so did they. Frankly being lost at sea is not a great thing and yu miss familar faces so I guess when I saw them again, I was thrilled…like meeting family…yu know what I mean. More hugs, group dinner and they were gone!

    We kept bumping into each other during the duration of my stay there…and it was over. I guess, when travelling alone or not, your fellow travellers become your friends, confidantes, family…you develop a bond….strangely very secure bond….i call it the “travellers bond”!!

    Yes, some are better flirts… :-)

  • nandanjha says:

    I could not have agreed more with Celine. Its really enchanting to read about non-verbal languages and the power they have in moving our vital organs.

    Thanks Anjaly for the pic, the story and who cares whether it were Kimodo dragons or not.

  • nandanjha says:

    Actually stealing our vital organs :-)

  • anjaly says:

    Aha! I came back with MY vital organs intact, mind!

  • Celine says:

    Oh, to see Komodo dragons, not doing research on it. I get it.:)

    As to meeting and bonding with fellow travellers albeit temporarily, I perfectly understand what you mean.
    That’s because I’ve done some solo travellling myself.
    Yes, some are better flirts. *wink*

    PS: LOL about the vital organs.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Nothing matters – let alone spellings – when you want to pour your heart out! The thrill, the excitement, the unbridled emotions.. all throbbing in each word. Jeez, was that a Greek god or something?

    My heart goes out to the poor soul who, even after all the painful translation, got a raw deal!

  • Geetha Saravanan says:

    Great Story! Loved reading it and the comments as well.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *