She opens the door, smiles and gives me the keys of an apartment I’ve never been and whose owner I’ve never met.  In the morning I had gotten an invitation from Saurab. This cheerful and intelligent guy has seen my couchsurfing profile and invites me to stay at his appartment which he shares with an American girl and a  French guy.  I check out his profile and reply that I would love to come.  He answers me back that we’ll meet that evening and that his flat mates are out of town. I recheck his references and decides it’s safe.  However in the meanwhile a friend of Saurab asks him whether he comes with him to Pushkar to celebrate new years eve with him and some friends. Saurabh replies he can’t because a couchsurfer is coming over. He can’t just say he isn’t able to host, he just agreed. This could give him a bad reference. His friend suggests to just leave the keys. Saurabh doubts. He has never done this before. He doesn’t now me. “What country is she from?” the friend asks. “The Netherlands” “That’s a peaceful country. You can do this.” Together they check my references on couchsurfing thoroughly. So half an hour after the second message Saurabh mails he’s very sorry but he is leaving town for new years eve but if I want I can pick up the keys at the neighbors.
The next morning Saurabh texts me a good morning and asks if I mind to share the room because another couchsurfer from Italy needs a place. Sure, more fun. Three hours later Isabella walks into the apartment. Her leg is swollen from a dog bite but she is joyful and very curious. So immediately we get into the good conversations.
My phone rings, it’s another couchsurfer. “Do you already have plans for tonight? Would you like to come to a new years eve party at my friends place?.”  So I start to make a batch of Dutch new years eve treats, called oliebollen. A few hours later they are done and together with Isabella I take a tuktuk. With a big smile we cross a bridge. The key towards new friends and a new year.
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