Dubai: An Indian expat has collected over 634 boarding passes from his flights taken over the last four decades.
Dubai-based Niranjan Gidwani said that he found a passion to collect and preserve his boarding passes from the various flights he took around the world
In an interview with Gulf News, Gidwani explained why he chose to collect the boarding passes and why he decided to file and preserve them.
Childhood in Pune
Gidwani said: “I grew up in Pune, a small town in India. As far as I can remember, none of us in our family had travelled much, and certainly not out of India.”
He recalled: “We belonged to a highly educated, wealthy, well-to-do family who lost every single penny at the time of the India-Pakistan partition. My parents had to start life right from scratch from the refugee camps set up in various parts of India. Passport was a document alien to us.”
Gidwani said when he was 20, his engineering college took him on a one-month train journey covering the Northern part of India right up to Jammu and Kashmir. “That was my first experience of a world outside Pune.”
“I got my passport at the age of 23. I had landed a work assignment in Bangkok and Hong Kong with an international bank. Since then, there has been no looking back,” said Gidwani.
Thanks to his job profile, and recurrent travel around the world, meant he took more flights. And with every flight came a boarding pass.
“I have travelled to 60 countries, covering all continents except central and South America. For 16 consecutive years, I travelled for about 100 days each year. The whole experience of travel made me realise the beauty, the complexity and the wealth of this huge and diverse planet that we live in.”
After the first two years of flying on work assignments, Gidwani said he felt like collecting boarding passes. “I felt one day I would sit back and see these boarding passes and reminisce my past. Every boarding pass has a story, has a compelling reason for the travel and I wanted to be able to look back at all the great moments of travel I had in my lifetime — whether it was for work or for pleasure.”
Gidwani said he even numbered the boarding passes and to this day has collected 634 of them. “This is not the full count of my entire travel journey. As said, I started collected boarding passes only two years into my flight journey. Also some passes were lost in the journey. But the number tally reads to 634,” he said with pride.
As he looks back at his files where he has stuck his boarding passes, — Gidwani reminisced travel in the old times. “The first boarding passes were not printed from online. We would have three folios to each boarding pass. The details of the passenger used to be hand — written. A blue carbon paper was placed between the folio notes. The first sheet would be given to the passenger, the second and third would be given to the airlines. Today, the need to print does not even exist as everything is online.”
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Benefits of travelling
He said: “Travel makes one aware of the huge diversity that exists in our world. And, at a deeper level, makes us realise how alike we are as a human race. It is the inherent desire in every human to be happy, to have a deep sense of security. Everywhere, depending upon where one focuses, one gets to see people taking care of their families and of each other. We learn to travel with wonder. We learn to explore. We learn to honour each place and its culture.”
Gidwani said the boarding passes in his collection is a reminder of the varied travel he has made. “Travel teaches us to try out new and varied cuisines. Travel makes us lose ourselves in new destinations, new cultures, new places, and in the process, many of us end up finding better versions of ourselves. Travel helps to open up our eyes and our hearts. It changes our outlook and life gets defined by a wide range of cultural influences and interesting life experiences.”
Geography was Gidwani’s weakest subject. “It began to get better with opportunities of travel which destiny opened up for me. Travel in every format comes with challenges, and by navigating our way through, whether successfully or not, we reap the benefit of new life experiences. I will never forget the first time I took a flight and many other memorable journeys. Even if I do forget, I have my boarding passes to remind me of them,” he concluded.