someone whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar.
Usually in life, strangers mean nothing to us once they have come and gone to and from our lives. Then there are times when they become friends or more. But sometimes, you may meet some strangers who you probably (and in some occasions: hopefully) will never meet again, but they could somehow manage to help you make a decision, or even leave a lasting thought in your head.
Here are five strangers who have either helped or enlightened me at various stages of my life so far.
1. IMMIGRATION OFFICER: TRAVELLER
You may think that this was small talk, but the Immigration Officer in Paris, before I hopped onto the Eurostar, didn’t just look at some stamps on my passport and call me a traveller. In fact, he told me:
Did you know that your name means: Traveller?
My parents intended to name me after a stanza in Indian classical music, which is also pretty cool. And then after almost three decades, I got to discover another meaning to my name.
It’s almost like my parents knew #SRTRAVELS✈ would happen!
2. GYPSY LADY: DON'T RUSH
I was on the Metropolitan line, when a chatty and friendly Gypsy lady sat opposite me and started to talk to me. She was heading to Gypsy Hill (no joke) and was talking about her husband and how they met. Before getting off the train, she told me:
Whatever you do, don’t rush into anything.
I am not too sure why she said this to me, but whether it is about relationships, work, fitness or other life goals in general, I (try to) listen to her till date.
Rushing could result in missing important factors that could become an issue at a later date, when it may become more complicated or difficult to deal with, as opposed to dealing with them at the beginning, or early stages, when things are still mouldable, changeable, fixable or avoidable.
As humans, sometimes we may have been trained to being part of a race of some sort, to achieve things. Achievement feels great, no doubt. But in my opinion, it’s always worth taking regular breaks to re-evaluate the situation and your long-term strategy (sounds very business-like, sorry), instead of speeding away, having tunnel-vision and possibly missing out on other good things that could further enhance the final outcome.
I like the word: sustainability i.e. having a long-term approach to projects and life.
3. DRUNK MAN: [INSERT YOUR CHOICE OF ABUSE HERE]
I was walking back home in the afternoon and got followed, verbally abused and then pushed by a drunk man.
I was obviously scared, but tried to be calm and walked over to an old couple who were stood outside their house, and asked them if they could help me call the police. The drunk man got even more aggressive and pushed the old man as well, until other neighbours came out and one particularly strong neighbour thankfully rugby-tackled the man and pinned him down. Eventually, the police came and arrested the man.
What I learnt:
We need to trust ourselves and others to be able to deal with tough situations (even if we're scared).
4. CHELSEA FAN: DUMP HIM
I was on the train with someone I had been on a few dates with, but wasn’t quite sure about him, for a number of reasons.
At some point, a group of middle-aged drunk Chelsea football fans got on the train and decided to sit next to us and have a chat. Oh goody.
They were all in a good mood, so I assumed they won the match. One of these men interrogated the guy I was with, just like my dad probably would, and before getting off the train, told me:
I won’t lie, it helped me make my mind up. I may even support Chelsea if I ever watch a whole football match.
5. STONED MAN: GOOD PEOPLE
I got on a bus on my way home, balling my eyes out at a time when I wasn’t feeling particularly happy about how someone in my life had treated me. I walked through the bus, passing people who had perfected avoiding eye contact and pretending that others don’t exist, proper London-style.
I sat at the back of the bus and a man with dreadlocks (just picture Bob Marley, for ease), who appeared to have consumed plenty of things to make him pretty stoned, asked me if I was okay. I was close to giving him a hug, but I controlled myself.
He told me:
Surround yourself with good people who wouldn’t hurt you on purpose.
Frankly, at that point I was hoping that whoever upset me disappeared from the planet, but eventually what this man said to me sunk in.
Till date, I am attracted to people who are inspirational, interesting, fun, happy, etc. but are fundamentally good natured. If I have a quick scan of people who are in my life today, I can tell you that they’re all amazing people in their own rights and aren’t the sort to intentionally hurt someone.