There are these people...some people that you know and who become a part of your life but then they're not your friends. I mean you just meet these people at certain gatherings, some places and then you don't even know what their names are. Every body has such strangers in their lives that they kind of know. They're not really strangers actually because you see them around but you don't really know them at all!
I had gone to Kathmandu, Nepal in the month of September and was there for almost a month. So I was headed back to Gangtok and usually I travel alone. So I landed at the Bhadrapur Aiport and took a taxi to Kakarbhita. That's like in the border between India and Nepal. I needed to switch into another taxi to get back to my apartment in Siliguri so when we stopped there, I started asking the drivers if anyone was available and you know....the bargaining shit and stuff like that. In all that chaos, I noticed a familiar face but I really didn't bother. So anyway after a while, a taxi was arranged and because I was so tired, I thought I'd have a glass of tea from the road-side stall and smoke a cigarette. As I sat there, sipping the tea and smoking, that familiar face was lurking around. He had an uncertain look on his face but he kept looking at me and then looking away and then looking at me again.
So I looked up at him and he approached me
"Didi tapai Delhi ma thiyo?" which means Didi, were you in Delhi?
I was a little surprised but that question kind of made me all the more sure that I did know this guy as well. I was like,
"Ho, tah! Bhai lie mai lay kata dekhe ko?" (Yes, I was. Where have I seen you before?)
"Mo Dilli Haat ko Nagaland food stall ma kaam gar thiye. Tapai pura au thiyo" (I used to work in the Nagaland food stall in Dilli Haat. You used to come there a lot)
That's when every thing came back to me. You see there is this government initiated handicrafts and food stalls in New Delhi which is called Dili Haat, which most of you people in Delhi know about. It used to be one of my favourite places to hang out while I was there cos the handicrafts were always an amazing gift or an interior decoration piece and then the food at the Nagaland stall was beyond amazing! So I used to frequent that particular stall a lot. I always sat on a table this guy waited on cos he looked kinda sad and he was the youngest out of all the staff. He had that face you know.....some one who carries a poignant smile all the time....yeah that kinds. For some reason, I imagined all sorts of tragedy in his life and therefore every time I visited that place, I tipped him well.
So anyway, Yeah I met him there in the middle of all that journey and I asked him to sit with me and have tea. He told me he'd left Delhi and was now driving a taxi and earning his living. When I asked him how did he recognize me, he smiled and said that It was my voice! See, for those of you who don't know me, I don't have a typical girly-girly voice. In fact It's a bit hoarse and that's one reason I've never had the confidence to sing. And then he added, "Tapai lay jahiley pani ma lie tip chori din thiyo" (You always tipped me)
Then I realized I was carrying my camera with me so I asked him If I could take his picture, to which he agreed gladly. Then he was called for duty and he left. I sat there and I did something that I normally don't do. I smiled! I didn't ask him his name or anything. I don't know why but that didn't seem necessary. I knew him and he knew me and the chances of meeting him again was minimum but then that was not the reason why. I felt like how much ever we knew of each other was enough and some how It made it special. We didn't need to keep in touch or bond. If we meet again, some where, It'll be special again, like how It was that day at a tea stall in Kakarbhita.
There really are no strangers out there you know. I mean literally yeah there are people that you don't know and stuff but metaphorically, as humans we know we exist. We are aware of the existence of the people that we haven't even met or heard of! Then there are these people you come across and they don't have play any dramatic roles in your life. They don't have to define the meaning of life for you but they're there and they come into our lives and some how, even for that one small moment...we are not the same!