Friday, 17 April 2009

Take a leaf out of another's book

I enrolled the kids for Vacation Bible School held at our church for 7 days in March. Since the transportation the church provided was over-crowded I decided to take the kids to church myself all those 7days. VBS was held for 3 ½ hours everyday which meant that I had to look for ways to keep myself occupied during that time.

Envisioning the long hours stretching endlessly in front of me, I had already picked up 2 books to read the previous weekend itself. So on the 1st day I dropped the kids off in the predefined area & went off to find myself a nook to sit comfortably & read my book.

But on my way to find that perfect niche I met an acquaintance who was also there to drop off her 8yr old daughter for these classes…she also had this fat book in her hand which she immediately closed as soon as she saw me.

This delicate looking & soft-spoken woman Reni was actually Manu’s friend. I had met her in church & at Manu’s house a couple of times but we never really spoke all that much. You see, even though I’m an extrovert & open with friends, I don’t really go out of my way to meet people & make conversation.

But here we were thrown together by circumstances & it didn’t really look nice if I just walked away to go sit in some corner & read a book….u know sort of openly saying that I prefer to read than talk to u. So I stayed on.

Since we didn’t know much about each other we cautiously waded thru general day to day stuff for a while. In the way of conversation I showed her my book [Still Me by Christopher Reeve] & asked her what she was reading. She showed me a medical journal & I was a bit taken aback.

Looking mildly surprised[I guess, she thought I knew] at my expression Reni told me she was a doctor who had taken a year’s sabbatical to be with her new-born, was now looking to rejoin work soon & so was just trying to update herself with the latest medical news.

I immediately felt mediocre whiling away my time reading about celebrity tragedies when I could have used the time to study rocket-science or nuclear effects of wars. The book which was flashed about with so much enthusiasm was quietly withdrawn & never came out again.

My curiosity was aroused & I started asking questions unobtrusively. Surprisingly[well, she always had come across as a bit reserved to me] she opened up freely & soon was telling me a lot about herself.

I always have been fascinated with People & their circumstances. Very often its happened that people think I’m their greatest friend & well-wisher simply because I am very interested in the going-on’s in their life & take the time to give a balanced view-point based on the things they tell me.

Well we spoke a lot…….in those 7 days we meandered through all the subjects touching our lives excluding only politics & rocket science. Reni spoke about her childhood, her medico days, her profession, about her husband & children.
When she told me about her 2nd child who was born after 3 miscarriages she had tears in her eyes & I clumsily put my hand on hers before turning away to hide the sheen in my own eyes.

Our conversations also included interludes of silence & moments when we went into the tranquil insides of the church to contemplate our relationship with God.

She made me feel inadequate without even trying…..I mean, here is a woman, a doctor who is managing home & on the other side continually updating herself [writing exams to qualify to work in Dubai], was working in a hospital in Sharjah[all that commuting] & inbetween all this had to bear the agony of losing her unborn babies & countless other barriers.

Made me sit up & ponder over many related/unrelated issues in life. Men or women didn’t necessarily have to be poor or under-qualified to experience the travails of life. Life is tough on everybody. How we overcome our deficiencies & circumstances is what sets us apart finally.

At the end of 7 days we very warmly waved each other good-bye & it was only a few days later I realized that we didn’t exchange numbers or contact information to keep in touch.

In hindsight now I realize it was one of those chance encounters where we meet somebody for a brief period & share without inhibitions our life-stories….

…….which, in turn made me pause for a while, to look into my own life, to appreciate & truly value my little world.


  1. Oww nancy! *hugs*

    It was perfect coz it was for few days..

    I think work helped her handle things :)

    Chance encounters are always fun :)

  2. P.S: update your blog roll with my new link :)

  3. everyone's talking abt being grateful .. i've been doing that a lot recently, so it was nice reading abt it here :)

  4. i am a little lost right now. I don't really know what to say. I'm looking back at my own life and thinking that it's not so bad after all. It's funny and sad that it takes someone else's hardships and loss to make another realize the value of their own lives. I sometimes think I'm one of those really unfortunate people and then I just look around and think and am grateful.
    hmmmmmmmmmmmmm...i think i'll go think some more

  5. :) good one.....

    such chance encounters are always great..... i have had a couple of those....

    No body is ever satisfied with life.... law of the world... :)

  6. I love these chance encounters and these brief but insightful peek into lives of strangers. I have had strangers baring their soul to me. I feel, all people require is an understanding ear. They probably don't even want advice and though might be interested in continuing the friendship, they'd rather keep it that way. Almost like, if I could say it, a one-night stand!
    It is a really nice way of unburdening urself. And u have the added chance of valuing your own comforts a bit more.
    Recently when I learned that a rather close friend was a PhD In Microbiology, I felt as tiny as an ant in front of her. I was ashamed of myself - like what the heck am I doing with my life. I could have done things better......
    But we can better at the things we are already doing. I took consolation in that!

  7. It's beautiful to experience such chance encounters isnt it?

  8. very nice narrative.. i cud almost visualize the 2 of u sitting and talking..
    its strange how someone or something sometimes makes us sit up and notice our blessings..yes, such is life..

  9. what is great is how well you grasp these encounters and find something positive in everything. for a moment there i was hoping to hear more on the books you read. but this will do too:-)

  10. So well written; loved it. :)

  11. how true...

    I go into such thoughts so often.. It cheers me up to see someone doing good, and makes me count my blessings everytime I meet or see someone going thru hardships.. I guess each one has their quota of ups and downs to undergo...

    I wrote abt one of such experiences here...

  12. Beautiful post!!! "How we overcome our deficiencies & circumstances is what sets us apart finally" .... I totally agree. No two people's lives are exactly the same, we each have to bear our own crosses & the ultimate thing is to get up & carry on no matter how many times we fall.

  13. Really sweet re. Must have felt really nice na, talking to a person which made you introspect too!

  14. You being a listening board is what makes you a great friend and well-wisher.
    How we sometimes trust a total stranger to bare our hearts out. Surprising isn't it ?
    Anyway, very touching post.

  15. Some people come in our life for a season and some for a reason..
    May be god sent her to you for a reason:) and thats bwhy you didnt take her contact no. or anything:)

  16. Winnie: Chance encounters are also learning experiences;-)).
    I've updated my blogroll with ur new link;-D.

    snow: Oh I've always been grateful....maybe bcoz I never truly believed tht I deserved much. Does tht make sense:-))????

    A: U knw there are worse positions to be in. There r some people who dont value their own even when they see the less fortunate. These people believe tht whtever life gives them is their due.

    Ordinary Guy: Always akkara pacha heh;-D.

    Bins: "But we can better at the things we are already doing. I took consolation in that"
    U knw I understand these words but its so hard to follow:-(.

    Idle Devil: Yes it is..more so when u think abt it later;-).

    Iya: Thank U!!!!
    U knw I've realised once we open our minds & eyes to really listen or watch, there is a lesson which can learn from everything.

    Lan: U may not believe it but I started off the post to write abt the book I read but after 2 paras my fingers took off on their own;-P.

    Swaram: Thank U, so glad u liked it:-))!!!!!

    mindspace: Sometimes I wonder wht kind of a life am I submitting my children to...I mean, have u noticed here in Dubai u'll rarely see people with disabilities...forget disabilities we dont even get to see old people. Maybe I'm wandering off the topic a bit I often feel bad for my children for growing up in such controlled enviroment.
    To feel, to share another's pain or discomfort brings home to us our blessings.

    Shalom: Thank U:-)!!!!!
    "No two people's lives are exactly the same"
    U knw I always marvel at the above point...just imagine the billions living in the world but no face or life-story is exactly the same.
    Yes ultimately ur ability to get back on the seat & continue after every fall is what matters.

    Goofy Mumma: Oh yes I quite enjoyed those discussions. When I think back it seems like ages since I did something like this;-)).

    Umas: Thank U:-))!!!!!
    Seriously I've come across this before also...u know, during train journeys or in a waiting lounge somewhere.....we get just an hour or more but in tht little time we've lived another persons life thru their words:-)).

    Renu: "Some people come in our life for a season and some for a reason.."
    Beautiful words!!!!!!!
    They make so much sense:-)).

  17. Yes, how true...sometimes we get very close to an otherwise unknown person and learn a lot from these baring of souls...
    Good one, Nancy, something to think about...

  18. I love chance encounters! Had one with a woman who was sitting right next to me on the bus from Bangalore to Hyderabad. I usually NEVER speak to strangers but this one and I chatted ALL night about our lives and had so much in common. I also had a load of luggage and wasn't sure where to get down so she got down with me at a point, helped with luggage, and waited with me till my husband found me. We exchanged phone numbers but have never kept in touch since. Weird thing is she had the same name as an old college buddy so I took it as a sign. It sort of inspired me to get in touch with HER as we had lost touch after college.

  19. Things do look different when you're looking at them from a different angle, don't they?

  20. Nancy, that was so sweet. I am forever observing everyone I meet. Some people in real, some online, some chance encounters. Most people influence you in a way and lets you introspect your life, good or bad. It helps.

    I was actually imagining you guys talking and then waving good bye. :)

  21. so true!! in fact long back i went to the Saket Mall and there i saw a family, and realised we are so lucky in like a million ways. And we really don't thank enough for what we have.

  22. really nice post....chance encounters are really nice, infact I feel we should have these kind of meetings everynow and then:-)

  23. I love your statement -How we overcome our deficiencies & circumstances is what sets us apart finally. That is so true.

    Those chance encounters are some of the richest ones!

  24. Nancy,Look at the God's play.Wishes to both of you.

  25. Somehow the most valued encounters are the ones like these especially if you don't exchange numbers or contact info.

    And the one you have with me here at blogger also fits the bill.

    So go ahead, treasure my words :)

    But feeling inadequate? c'mmon everyone is perfect within himself/herself.

  26. :)

    nice post...loved reading it...when the frequencies match u tend to become closer very soon..right?...happy weekend

  27. i read this yesterday but it was so thought provoking i had to go back and think before i left a comment.

    i think what u wrote about is something most of us commonly miss thinking about. we get so caught up on the lows of our lives we arent able to lose our perspective on the whole picture - our life. i liked ur post. it made me think and reflect. im glad u wrote this.

  28. Did my comment get lost? I can't tell...

  29. :) You're a good soul dear. I don't know what to say, I just felt so good reading it - you've amazing empathy.

    P.S: If you ever want to find me and share some words with me - plz head to the canteen ;)

    P.S1: Just coz you don't read medical journals does not make you any less of a 'woman of substance' :)


  30. Another person's life story always helps us gain new perspective... :)Christopher Reeve's book may have done something similar Nancy! Did it?

  31. You have been tagged by me, in my new post. Let me know when you do it. :)

  32. well written Nancy..I guess somethings happen for a reason..
    I am a person who is not good at going out and making friends, but sometimes we end up talking to people and it changes things a lot..

  33. What an enlightening post,Nancy!Sometime we do come across people who make us introspect and appreciate our life all the more.

    Thank you so much for sharing:)

  34. sindhu: Thank U:-))!!!!
    Since we dont really expect to meet them again we tend to talk a bit more freely;-D

    Shades of grey: Know exactly wht u mean...sometimes without intending to I end up doing something like this & realise tht it benefited me greatly & actually thank God I had the foresight to reach out in the 1st place. Get wht I'm saying;-P!!!

    Agnes: Like they say, always compare our situation with the people with less advantages than us & we'll be counting our blessings:-))
    I was out one whole day & too tired to chk the net, thts why u cdnt find your comment:-P

    Solilo: "I was actually imagining you guys talking and then waving good bye."
    When I read tht sentence I was once again transported to tht moment & I went all nostalgic:-)).
    "Most people influence you in a way and lets you introspect your life, good or bad."
    And some people show me what NOT to do:-D

    Saima: There r people like tht all around us but sometimes we are so full of inadequacies & complaints we fail to see it.

    Durga: "I feel we should have these kind of meetings everynow and then:-)"
    I second these feelings:-))

    Anjuli: Yes they if only we opened our eyes a bit more to look around:-))

    Maddy: Yes, God's mercy & kindness is always awe-inspiring.

    Rakesh: Awww u r sho shweet.
    Go ahead treasure MY words;-D

    Brocasarea: Seriously, have u noticed tht too...somebody who u never met in ur life till then just connects & understands even b4 u mouth ur words:-o????

    N: "we get so caught up on the lows of our lives we arent able to lose our perspective on the whole picture - our life.i liked ur post. it made me think and reflect."
    N, I'm so humbled, in this 1 sentence u explained exactly what I was trying to in the whole post

  35. This was a poignant one.Enjoyed reading it.

    And I am back with my blogfolks!! :-)

  36. Still thinking: U r right abt the empathy part of it...I even emphatise with Shah Rukh Khan in those atrocious movies he acts in;-P
    P.s: I'll listen out for tht tht I can join u in the canteen;-D

    Jira: Christopher Reeve's book to be honest, was a bit boring coz he went on quite a bit abt the complications of his injury.
    But in places I did feel terrible for him & admired his will-power & never-say-die spirit.

    Goofy Mumma: Thank U...please gimme some time. I have a few pending which I have to complete;-P.

    Enigma: Thank U!!!
    I do understand coz I'm somebody like tht too:-)).

    Deeps: Dont mention it, my pleasure really;-D

    Spontaneous Mini: Thank U!!!
    Nice to see u back:-))

  37. Different people come into our lives and touch it in different ways - you, by writing about this, has touched mine; she by opening out to you has touched yours, you by listening to her has surely touched her life. Thank god for all the connections around. Thank you for sharing.

  38. Colours: Ohhhh...What a beautiful perspective......let me add 1 more sentence here.....
    U by commenting on this post have touched mine:-) and finally, i feelingly second ur "Thank god for all the connections around"

  39. First time here and enjoyed reading this post

  40. Shails: Thank U!!!!!
    And please come again;-D.

  41. I have never had a chance encounter with anyone who has shared their life stories with me, honestly. It has always been my friends. You must've been a gr8 listener :).....
    as i grow old i feel i'm not able to create that close bond with people i now know. The closest bonds i have had so far are with people i met in my college days or at my first workplace, so for someone to share and for you to listen and learn imp. lessons on travails of life is indeed a big deal! makes me reflect on other things reflections.... thanks for the lovely post

  42. Preethi: Aaaah...missed getting ur 'bullseye' comments:-).
    "as i grow old i feel i'm not able to create that close bond with people i now know."
    Believe me I'm feel exactly the same...but somehow I made her feel at ease I guess & mayb the fact tht it was a 1 off thing must have loosened her inhibitions or so am guessing & I did learn a lot by just listening.
    And thank U:-))!!!!!!!!!!

  43. Aiiyyo! VBS was sooo boring!!

    Interesting read about the chance encounter. Dubai-Sharjah commuting itself is a nightmare and given all her difficulties..What a strong-willed person.

    This has definitely got me thinking. No more whining for me

  44. DPhatez: Hey I remmeber VBS as 10 days of good fun;-D.
    Yeah sometimes it takes anothers troubles to show us our blessings:-)).

  45. No need to beat yourself down Nancy. You probably have no idea what good you are doing to people - bringing smiles to people's faces. Just seeing the word "reflection" in other places, makes me smile thinking of you and your ways. Reni has her talents and her contributions, so do you. :-) I felt her pain of so many miscarriages, it is a cruel thing to happen to anybody. :-(


Thank U for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment:-))!!!