I had often heard stories people tell about their meeting with a stranger which changed their lives. Always thought they are little exaggerated until it happened with me one day. I met this stranger in one of the airport lounges.
The flight was delayed by 3 hours from Mumbai airport, I had no option but wait for the next announcement. After a hectic day, a flight delay is a killer. Thought of killing the frustration and boredom over a cup of coffee in the CCD. Right on the opposite table, there was a foreigner gentleman dressed in a casual attire with a completely shaved head. The black frame glasses adding to the rustic look he had. At first I thought he’s some writer or techie something. No he might be a businessman. Though I’m not a big extrovert, the curiosity compelled me to go and get introduced with the stranger. To my utter surprise, he was not from any of the fields I was thinking. He was an international business manager from a reputed MNC. After the formal introduction, Mr. Stranger said he was also victim of flight delay! We thought of getting into a chat over a cup of coffee and kill boredom together.
“What brings you to India Mr. Stranger?”
“I often come here on work. But this time it’s a personal tour and the agenda is to go to Rajasthan. Waiting to catch a flight to Udaipur from where I will take a bus to Mt Abu.”
“Well, Mt Abu is a beautiful hill station. You would love the climate though you have to manage with the food!”
“I am regular visitor to this place. Used to stay in a hotel in the small town. But this time it is going to be a homestay.”
“Really? You mean you will stay with a local Indian family? Who is the guy you are staying with?”
“He is a local driver who used to drive me along Mr Abu every time I was here. Nice chap always smiling and eager to help. Showed me all the places in the city probably no other foreign tourist could have seen. Last time I dropped for a short while to his home and met his family. They invited me to stay with them during my next trip, at least for a day.”
“Who are there in his family?”
“They are two brothers, staying with their mother. A poor family but the hospitality was amazing. I am sure I will enjoy the stay.”
“But the facilities will be basic, you have to manage with.”
The response changed my whole idea about looking at life.
“They are good people. I know I may have to manage with the basic facilities, manage with the food and few other things. But the happiness that would bring to the family is priceless. Especially their mother whose elder son sacrificed his ambitions for taking care of the family after the death of their father. The younger one resorting to part-time driving taxi while studying just to meet the ends. Yet the whole family was exuding an ocean of positive energy and happy with whatever life has thrown at them”
“Hold on. I appreciate your concern about this family. But you will find many such families in India who strive hard to manage the basic necessities of life.”
“I know. That’s why you have more opportunities to go to such families and try to do something for them. Such people who fight a battle everyday to meet their ends don’t feel unprivileged. Rather they fight against all odds while putting up a smile on their brave faces. I will feel proud if I can contribute to their happiness, any small gesture is fine for me. If at all it calls for a little compromise by me.”
So true. Small things we do can make big impact in the lives of many people. Simple fact told so casually by Mr. Stranger felt so meaningful.