Saturday, 6 June 2009

Its a Small World

It is seldom that we realise that the world is not just small but probably it is tiny. Rare as they may be, the sudden incidents that spring familiar faces in front of us, leave memories that make us smile for an eternity that follows.

After a long gap, I was visiting London and I was excited. Like a little child left in a toy shop, I arrived at Paddington train station longing to work my way to my favourite coffee shop. I was waiting for a cup of steaming hot latte. It did not matter that I had luggage with me or that I had already had my morning tea on the flight. Just like a child desiring his favourite toy, I needed my latte. So off I went, with a skip in my step, to the coffee shop and was about to order my coffee when I heard a stunned familiar voice from across the till, “Where have you been all these days”. One part of my brain associated the voice and the face with Bruno, the chirpy barista at the Starbucks opposite the London office. The other was saying that Bruno worked through the week at the Starbucks, had won the best employee award at that Starbucks outlet; he could not be working at this Costa Coffee outlet. I was confused and so the thirty odd seconds passed without any response from me. The manager recognising my surprise chipped in, “He works through the week at the Starbucks and the weekends at the Costa here”. My surprise turned into a beaming smile and I greeted Bruno, who by now had picked up the medium sized cup and was heading towards the coffee machine. With a twist of the neck he turned towards me and asked me if it was still my usual. The season in London had indeed changed but not my coffee choice and even Bruno’s memory had maintained the energy of spring not succumbing to the numbing winter that the city had encountered. As Bruno handed me my latte, silently and unknowingly he welcomed me home; he remembered me and that meant that the city had some of my memories hidden. I did feel like I had belonged there once upon a time.

I adore London and I love Mumbai. These are the two cities that have defined the tale of my life thus far. So if London had given me such a pleasant surprise, Mumbai was not going to stay far behind.

The day before yesterday, I had to go to a meeting in the suburbs but did not have the car. I ordered an air-conditioned radio taxi, as taking a normal cab or the public transport would have meant reaching the client’s office drenched in sweat. As I walked towards the waiting green cab, the driver suddenly got out and took my rather heavy laptop bag from me. He kept the bag on the back seat and then ran to the opposite side and held the door open. I was shell shocked! The green cab drivers were never this courteous or polite. I sat down with amusement and amazement written all across my face. He started the meter and then turned around, asked me how my parents were and when we envisaged moving back into our own flat. This was enough to spook me, how did he know my parents and that our flat is under renovation! Sensing my bewilderment, Ankit turned around and said, “You did not recognise me did you. I used to work for a family in the building next to yours. Have recently started living far away and cannot commute to work, so I have started driving this taxi.” Come to think of it, he had seemed familiar but yes this time I could not place the recognizable face. That day I had a very smooth ride to the meeting and back. It was a taxi but it was my own chauffer driven car.

Strange and sweet; such incidents occur to make each one of us realise that we do belong in this world. While it might not be every day that we face the truth, but in reality, someone somewhere is always thinking of us. And if that someone somewhere comes face to face with you, then your next few days are spent in absorbing the beautiful wonders of this world. The world - it is a strange place and yet a beautiful place; and I am thankful to Bruno and Ankit for making mine even better.