Sunday, March 14, 2010

Familiar Strangers

stran·ger   /ˈstreɪndʒər/

.a person with whom one has had no personal acquaintance: He is a perfect stranger to me.

I am a fairly amiable and pleasant person to hang around. I think.
I don't stink, burp aloud, fart, belch or curse randomly in public. What I do in the privacy of my room should be of no concern to anybody.
I dress neatly and do not attract unwarranted attention.
When I walk down a busy market place, men and women do not give me more than the cursory glance. Well, sometimes they do (and I'd attribute that to their having nothing better to do with their time).

I am the stranger you wouldn't miss seeing on the road.
Does that sound weird? You wouldn't miss seeing any stranger, would you now? Unless, of course it is a stranger of the opposite sex who's been making you push your daily schedule so you could catch a glimpse of them.
My relationship with strangers has been kind of confusing from the start.
I have come to acknowledge the fact that all my best friends, infatuations and more have been strangers who I once noticed in the crowd for some reason or the other.
It could be for their voice, their looks, their charm, their being unusually quiet, unusually loud or just plain unusual.
I realize that makes me sound extremely shallow, but I've never been in denial of that.
I have been able to cultivate long-lasting relationships with perfect strangers.
Let me elaborate.
When I was in school, we had a new admission in the 9th standard in almost the middle of the session. She was the spoilt child of an important man in the Punjab Police, who was used to the importance people showered her with. We were in an all-girls convent school so there were no young boys around to complicate matters. I hated her guts but some time later, I realized it was all a cover for her insecurities. She became a close friend and after years of staying perfectly out of touch, I am still the only old classmate she is in touch with. And she'll always have a very special place in my heart and my life, despite all our differences.

When I was in grad college, a perfect stranger had my heart go bumpity-bump every time I'd see him cross the hallway. And I certainly wasn't the only girl who felt that way. After all, college is a time when you discover your hormones are actively engaged in making you say all the wrong things at the wrong time to the right people. But a year later, that good-looking stranger was telling me of secrets he'd never shared with anyone else, only to become my special secret for the next 3 years and my best friend for life!

When I joined the business school that was brave enough to give me admission, for one whole semester I was surrounded by young eager-to-please students who just couldn't manage to involve me in a conversation for more than 5 minutes. In the second sem, when the sections got shuffled, I was placed in one with a guy I had noticed in the first sem only because he'd never look at me. Then, I heard his voice. And it made my spine tingle and my legs melt. Now, he is the one friend I'd trust with my life and who could convince me into commiting the seven sins if he wanted to!

I know that we all start of as strangers. I know some people attract their way into our lives and we choose who we let into our lives.
But it isn't always that easy. Some strangers are a tad more difficult than others.
For me, the difficult strangers are the ones who think like me, talk like me and are just a reflection of an alternate me.
These strangers infuriate me. Because rightfully, they should be predictable and easy to read. But they are not.
I can understand the whole world. Or pretend that I do. I can pass judgements or give up on the ones that I feel are not worth the time and effort.
But every once in a while, a stranger I know nothing about but who is just so much like me comes along and I don't know how to react.
And then I thank all the beautiful strangers who came and knew how to deal with me.
They deserve all the credit for being who they are in my life.
Because I would've been clueless all along.

1 comment:

  1. Will take me another reading to fully absorb. Or maybe, I should just sleep. :)