Sunday, 4 October 2009

Passing by

It can happen at the oddest of places and time. You are crossing the Millennium Bridge contemplating Barceló’s art that you glimpsed at in a book at Tate Modern with your hands pulling up the coat collars in a vain attempt to battle the winds that rush across the Thames. Or you are in a Blue Line bus winding its way through Delhi’s summer traffic flipping the pages cyclostyled from a book on Weber’s essay “Politics as a vocation” contemplating the ‘iron cage’ of rational control with one eye looking out for the men and their usual antics in the buses of Delhi. Or with your chin resting in your cupped palms you stand at the balcony of the apartment in Vasant Kunj or Bandra or London on a wet and cloudy day. And then they pop in from nowhere.
Three girls walking briskly and speaking it seems all at once. Describing in less than the time it takes for them to overtake you the splendors that lie beyond the bridge across Thames. They move away even more rapidly than they speak. And you are left listening to their words. The child asks his mother a question. The din of Delhi’s traffic drowns half his words. Two of them “Dekho” and “Papa” stand out, and you look out of the window and see a man on his scooter with two kids, the boy standing in front and the girl sitting. And many years go by but still you wonder. The five of them rush across the street. One of the boys rides a bicycle that he has long since overgrown. Another, when he gets off his, has a slight limp in his right leg. Two of them seem destined to be friends for life. Or maybe in a few months they’ll all drift away. Or maybe you'll meet them again in pictures and articles while browsing the internet.
And so it happens. Frequently enough to not be merely dismissed as a coincidence. In fact, so often that you start to unconsciously look out for them even though you know the encounter will always be unexpected. And more rewarding and long lasting for precisely that reason.

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