Saturday, 15 September 2012

Why me?

No, this is not about 'Why do all bad things happen to me only?'

My friends have often wondered how I end up not only meeting so many strangers, but also how they tend to open up their mind and heart to share their life experiences with me. Sometimes, even I wonder because for a major part of my life, I have been a very shy person, scared to talk to people. Whether it is the Indian girl whom I met on a bus in Bristol (she has a Chinese brother - both adopted by a couple in Luxemburg), or the Indian-American Kannadiga whom I met at a Zakir Hussain concert in London, or the 75-year old World War veteran whom I met by the Thames river.. or more recently, some migrants I met on the train, or the security guards I get to meet at IISc .... 
All these people and the conversations I have had with them have had an impact on me and have enriched my life.
This is the first in the series of recording such experiences. I will start with the most recent one that happened yesterday.

I was introduced to the book 'Siddhartha' in the morning and having gone through the gist on Wikipedia, was trying to relate to the thoughts presented in the story. It was mostly reaffirming, but did leave me disturbed and exhausted. So I was planning to leave early when I had this 25 minute conversation with the security boy (I did not track the time, he did). I was the listener for most part, which is usually the case with me, except when I am talking to my very close friends.

The security boy helped me put up some posters on the notice board; I had nothing to do, but felt an obligation to stand there till he finished his job. I thanked him and turned to go, but he started a long conversation which never seemed to end. He told me about a TV program that he watched about Emu rearing and all the money it could bring. I asked him if we have the right weather conditions to rear Emus, but I could see that he had done all the homework as he explained the process. He also talked about how he wants to go back to his village and become a farmer and stay close to his people. He went on to talk about how his family lost a lot of money and family jewelry because of his dad's poor choices (mostly influenced by his alcoholism) and his mother's innocence. He had taken up a job as a security guard and got his father also enrolled at the same place. He has just started his Diploma course in Mechanical Engineering and hopes to get into a good job soon. He pays for his fees and along with his father, is paying off a loan they took to have a shelter for themselves. He says he cannot spend time with friends after college because he has to report to work. He also regrets not spending enough time with his mother because he is either at college or at work for most part of the day. He talks to his father on the phone since he doesn't get to meet him too because they work in different shifts. With all this, he manages to participate in debates and elocutions as he loves to talk (no doubt about it!).

During the entire conversation, he smiled as he talked. He did not seem to have any complaints about anyone though he admitted not having trust worthy relatives. He did not seem to have any hatred towards his father for all his alcoholism and poor financial management. All he wished for was to have a few good friends who would stand by him during his troubled times. He seemed to have everything worked out for becoming a farmer - the loans that he could take, the subsidies that he could make use of and the trust that he could build with his fellow villagers.

I was amazed by his attitude and sincerely hope that life doesn't become so hard on him that he loses his optimism. I also had a few lessons to be learnt from him about forgiving people and taking everyone along. Though I have experienced financial and other hardships during my childhood, I thanked my stars for not having to earn for my fees or contribute to the family income. I also feel lucky to have been blessed with some really good friends and had (and still have) the luxury of spending time with them.