We understand the big events that make a difference, the events and interactions that change our directions in life. We know them because they alter our goals, they alter us, and they often alter our lives altogether. These bigger things, how can we miss them! We register them and we record them and then we recall them in great detail. But what about the littler moments, the one-off interactions, and the otherwise insignificant meetings, don’t they all add up too? For me they do.

The woman was a consultant. She had a portfolio and a job title. I had an appointment with her and we were seated in a stern and formal office. However, fifteen minutes in to the conversation, she was a woman just back from her maternity leave sharing her parenting concerns with me. I met her only once, but we were chatting away like people who have known each other for years. What started out as a business meeting wasn’t one anymore. I think we were animated conversational partners by the time we parted. I will probably never see her, but she was a happy part of my day.

This girl, barely out of her teens spoke a language I didn’t completely comprehend. So we communicated with more gestures than sentences. She was young, giggly and a tad bit over dramatic. I rolled my eyes at times, and laughed with her at other. I knew her for few months and then she went to the country where she came from. And yet I was anxious when she returned home because I worried that her journey back would not be easy. When she left, she took my hands and bowed in a show of respect. There was a lump in my throat as I wished her well. I knew I will never see her but I wish that I could.

He was my taxi driver. Not the chatty kinds, but he was the one with a kind voice and a gentle demeanor. He spoke of his grandson, the one who died few weeks ago. He spoke of him because he thought I was a teacher at the school where his grandson studied. I wasn’t, but before I could correct him, he went on talking about the grandson who he must have adored. His voice carried the love that he must have felt, a love that he still feels. He was embarrassed at having told me all this. I reassured him that I liked hearing it. I meant it. Late that evening, I remembered the loss, the pain and the little boy. I remembered him and he found a way in to my tiny prayer to whoever was listening up there.

The man was a stranger at the café. I don’t remember what he looked like, but I do remember his shoes. Those shoes were splattered with coffee, yes, from my coffee cup. I was absolutely mortified, and apologized as sincerely as I could, but those dirty shoes haunted me, and taunted me. I knew I was sloppy but I didn’t want strangers at the cafe to know such things. He didn’t sound very pleased but he did murmur something like, ‘don’t worry about it.’ But I did worry about it as I walked out, my face burning. I would rather not meet him again.

She was the lady at the post office. She had the sparkly eyes and the rotund frame. I was posting a letter to a childhood friend, and had found the most ornate envelope. She looked at it with a smile and said, ‘love letter?’ I smiled and said, ‘no.’ ‘What a pity!’ said she, and we laughed about the love letter that I didn’t send.

Everyday, I meet people I will never see again. These tiny interactions, and meetings leave something back in my life. They are like shiny, multicolored pebbles. I recall the big events of my life but very often I seem to forget these other encounters, the ones that were shorter and perhaps, of little or no consequence. But they remain somehow, through my day, and even after that. They turn in to mosaics, these beautiful, little encounters.

(A mosaic is a piece of art or image made from the assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials).


It’s a wrap!

source: hd wallpaper

hd wallpaper

To be honest, this was not the best year that I could have asked for. Looking back, there are various things that could or should have been different but there were also things that were just the way they should have been. If I have to find a theme for my 2013, it would be ‘people.’

Now where do we begin? This has been the year for renewing many forgotten ties, the year for travelling and the year for education, either in the form of learning or in the form of imparting whatever little I know and somehow all of these have involved people.

Meeting people has become one of the most exciting, enriching and educating experience of my life. Many of these people are from my past, people who I barely connected with as a younger me but found a strange new connection now. Age, time and experiences have ensured that we are ready for this connection and the experience has taught me never to write off people based on what they were, but to keep my opinions open to changes and adjustments. If I had resisted meeting these people again, I would have missed out on something very beautiful. So, it’s going to be more reunions and catching up in the coming year and I am not giving up on this opportunity!

Meeting new people, now that is exhilarating and challenging at the same time. One never knows what to expect, very much like a roller coaster ride where the dips and the rises are unexpected and yet exciting. At the end of the ride, you are left changed and wide- eyed, a bit scared and yet addicted. I am no thrill seeker and the roller coaster ride in reality is just not my scene, but meeting people? Yes, that I like.  That is my adrenalin rush I would say. That’s also the way my mind expands, leaving me changed.

During a recent talk session at a school in Bhilai, I met some young girls. All of seventeen, these girls appeared to be quiet and subdued initially, but once they warmed up, I was privy to a world of expectations, insecurities, dreams, desires and doubts. It’s a similar world I find here in Singapore too. The dreams, the insecurities, the concerns appear to be similar in whichever part of the world that I go to. These girls are not aware of this probably, but they are connected to the youth of the world in their thoughts and worries while being unique in some ways as well. From my vantage point, I see these similarities and differences and it humbles me to see how we all can be connected and yet be unique at the same time. Meeting people makes me realise that we are not alone in our difficulties and yet we are special because of who we are.

Cafe in Vietnam. Photo: Prionka Ray©

Cafe in Vietnam. Photo: Prionka Ray©

Travel, on the other hand, has allowed me to connect to people I would have never connected otherwise. It has also enabled me to have strange epiphanies at unexpected moments and especially while watching the people at the cafes. In case, you didn’t know already, cafes (or small tea joints for that matter) around the world, teach you more about the culture of a place and the life of its people in a shorter time than anything else. I call it a crash course in ‘coffee and culture.’ Travel also allowed me to glimpse beauty and redefine what is beautiful. My perspective has changed.

If we are still talking about people, then this has also been the year of meeting people who I wish I had not met (or had met, but in better circumstances). On the surface these meetings and interactions seem to have served no purpose other than to cause distress and duress but then, these experiences were a necessary part of my learning too. They taught me a lot and made me appreciate life in its true glory with its good, bad and ugly moments.

As I move from one year to another, I look forward to meeting more people, connecting with more minds and in turn, expanding my own. I look forward to continuing my educational journey (formally and informally). I am excited about it all and so a bit of revelry is justified. Few things put me in a happier frame of mind and I am going to list them here to end this post on a joyous note.

People,music, food, words and art. There, I feel happy already!

Some people to mention here would be my family, friends, teachers and class mates and then one famous man who presided the UWC movement. That man was Mandela who continues to inspire me even after he is gone.

For food, I am dipping in to this epicurean website, started by a delightful person I know. It’s called foodfellas.


Source: foodfellas

The words (for the moment) are Japanese author, Haruki Murakami’s. I have thoroughly enjoyed his work for its surrealism and its parallel and metaphysical associations. My year is ending on his book, Sputnik Sweetheart.

My current art inspiration has come from Chattisgarh and more precisely from this store called Shabari.

Photo: Prionka Ray©

Photo: Prionka Ray©

I have introduced a new section: ‘Organisations/ individuals offering financial assistance.’ Please share the contents with those who may benefit from the information and email me at if you know of other organisations offering similar assistance.

Finally, life is about learning from what ‘was’ while looking forward to what ‘will be’, I am ready for both. As far as 2013 is concerned, it’s a wrap. To all those reading my posts, thank you and see you in 2014!