The other day instead of going for a walk, I took my camera with a new wide angle lens for tryouts. Left home around 5.30 and went to the bridge on the river, near my home. This trip was under guidance from my friend Vijay Ghate. I take his help on anything related to photography and he suggested that it will be a good idea to go out and take 40/50 photos, trying out variations. Slowly I got the feel of things and decided to come home.
On the way back home I saw three gentlemen, all retired much more than a decade earlier. They were chatting away. They were standing outside an old people’s home by the name Matoshri Vrudhhashram. I saw one more person coming out, he spoke a sentence with them and went inside again. So I assumed that all these friends lived in the home. As I was nearing them and saw that they were observing me, a guy with white hair wearing a T shirt, track pant and a Chappal. I was in photography mode and not in morning walk mode. I had Camera hanging round the neck!
As I came near them, I asked them in Marathi, “How are you?” The initial apprehensions on their face gave way to a smile. I have generally observed that people speak to me initially in Hindi as they assume that I am a non-Maharashtrian. One of them asked me “Are you from that school?” I jokingly said, “Now I do not think anyone will take me in any school at this age!” Then I realized they thought that I was from film institute. Then I briefly explained to them my reason for the sojourn with camera. One thing led to another.
We ended up chatting with each other for about 15 minutes. One thing I realized was their keenness to talk to me. I realized that they wanted to share their stories with me, an unknown stranger. One of them had worked in Bombay Suburban Electric office at Parel, Mumbai; another had worked as electrician in a factory. Third person had his career in Govt job. I had common things with first two of them and we could take the conversation further, very easily. Words were just pouring out of them. They wanted company, they were together but maybe they were lonely, away from “home”, the real home. Was this how you become when you live in an old people’s home? I could see keenness in their eyes but also some sadness. If I had not smiled at them, I don’t think they would not have spoken to me. It is this apprehension that comes in the way in interaction between people. I did not do anything out of the way but I felt nice to see smile on their faces. One of them had worked at Cummins on maintenance side. He took a few names during his time whom I knew. When I told him that I am a Metallurgist by training, he was thrilled to share his experiences about heat treatment furnaces! Was he happy! Mumbai person wanted to know where I lived in Mumbai. They wanted to know where I did my engineering. We could have chatted on and on but I had somethings lined up at home; I wished them a good day and moved on. The story does not end here!
While I started walking ahead I felt that a gentleman, again not known to me, out for his morning walk, was walking parallel to me. I gave him a smile and said good morning. Then I told him that I was just chatting with these folks as I thought humoring them in the morning was a good idea. We walked about fifty steps together and when my lane came, we stopped, I introduced me to him, and we kept exchanging pleasantries and bit of information with each other. He was a registrar in a large education institute. We were talking about the institute. I saw one more gentleman, unknown to both of us, was slowing down. I said good morning to him; and lo he also joined our tid bits. He worked in a consulting company. We all chatted. He was also curious about what I was chatting with the retirees! Without mentioning any details we chatted for another ten minutes and parted ways.
Friends, what I described just now will appear to be a very small event and in life’s cycle it will not even be a blip. But I felt that there is deep meaning involved in those 20/30 minutes. A few people not known to each other, just came together to chat, exchange pleasantries. This to me is most important thing in the world. In our day to day lives, we live next to each other but because of apprehensions we don’t know each other at all! Ok every day you may not get time, you may be busy. But whenever you get a bit of time, why not spend the same in spreading the camaraderie, spreading pleasantness. We know we cannot change lives in that short span of time but we can always create a silver lining to the dark clouds! I hope I did that, to those three gentlemen living in Matoshri! There is nothing more precious in life than a smile on someone’s face! So throw away apprehensions, your inhibitions and embrace the goodness of life! Help the world to drive away dark clouds in life, every bit adds!