Rain, tea, chat with a stranger…could it get any better?

While the rest of California might be cursing the torrential rain that has started this weekend, I for one, LOVE rain! I love getting drenched in it; I love jumping in puddles; being a photographer, I love the texture and color it leaves, I love the coldness it creates, I love the fact that it covers the strong Sun and how a cloudy day before the rain shows the neutral balance of this World. Haaa~Balance… the one thing this Universe depends on, the only rule that can never be broken, well, is another topic which I have to pen down some other day.  Well, what can I say, I am the very definition of randomness! Deal with it! 😛

Lately, I have just started noticing that I seem to have the best conversations with complete strangers and that too with older women,  be it my Japanese teacher, the lady from Peru whom I had briefly mentioned in the other post on Strangers, a taxi driver from two years ago, or the most recent bus driver!

The way I see life in today’s World, younger people almost my age or even a little older, are less mature when it comes to inter-personal skills or judging people; perhaps because I want them to act in the same way as I do or perhaps I want them to behave in a way I would like, but nonetheless, to be quite honest, I don’t think I can ever bond with someone close to my age or younger than me. The way they crave for superficial feelings; the way they like materialistic things more than the deeper  feelings; the way they want to be felt important more and more and the way they try to compete with others in stuff that never matter, the way they want to show off by belittling others… the list is endless! I really dislike seeing these things and it makes me frown a lot whenever I come across such a person.

Anyways, back to the subject, on Saturday, the 18th, I decided to catch the bus or bike my way 10 miles to the Indian stores here in San Diego, and as usual, not browsing for the weather (I don’t have a TV, I don’t want one either!), I took my bike and left to catch the bus and alas, right in front of my eyes, it took off. ‘Well, it’s a good thing I can bike now and save 2.5$’, or so I thought. I biked long and hard, stopping and resuming as and when the bike trail met the freeway. (The SR-56 bike trail is a really wonderful route to bike on parallel to the freeway in a separate trail just for bikes away from the cars!) As I reached somewhere nearby the road intersection I had to continue on, it started pouring cats and dogs! It was drizzling earlier but this time, I couldn’t see any more than a couple of meters in front of me and not to mention the slippery roads just after the rain drops trying to steer me away. I decided it was time for me to stop and get to the nearest bus stop and wait till the rain slows down. I waited long enough till another bus came by. I thought for a moment and then I decided to board the bus. After placing my bike on the front of the bus’ bike rack,  (which by the way, is pronounced Byk Rack for some reason!) I got in and took my ticket from the ticker vending machine. The lady driver murmured something I didn’t quite catch.

I asked her to repeat and she asked “Are you from Chennai?”. I was flabbergasted! Never has a person in the US, let alone a bus driver asked me a question so close to reality like this! I said, “Not quite, but close to it” and then she shot her dart at the next most precise location “Hyderabad? ” and I was shocked! I once again exclaimed “Not that either.” Then I told her where I was from. I said “Coimbatore” and she went ” Hmm, I am sure I’ve heard that place before. Is there a mountain nearby?” I replied “Yes, not at that place, but around 50 miles from there, Ooty” and she went “Yes! Of course! There is also another place nearby that starts with a ‘K’, isn’t it?” I scratched my head and I thought long enough to come up with names of the two neighboring states, but she said it was a hill station. It took me some time but I soon realized what she was talking about. The place was Kodaikanal which she apparently couldn’t pronounce. I was more than shocked by now and I asked her how she knew these places since the normal American only hears about metro cities of India and very less about the Southern part of India, let alone my city! She then told me that she was married to a Punjabi (person from the North Western state of Punjab) guy from India! Apparently he passed away three years back and I also got to know that she had visited Chandigarh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan amongst other places.

It so happens that, when you talk to an Indian about your likes and dislikes about India (in a genuine way, not just for the sake of talking), you become a hero in his/her eyes and you’ll get a fan gathering because for us, a foreigner admiring something about our culture is an honor which we like to maintain and improve on. 🙂

Needless to say, we started talking about Dosas, Idlis and about how she likes shopping at the Indian place I was going to, about how she likes the restaurants there, etc… Before long, it was time for me to get off and I bade her goodbye and took my bike, once again in the relentless rain and walked my way to the store. I locked my bike to the tree facing the store where there were other bikes locked in the same way. I went inside the usual Indian store I visit once in a while whenever I need to stock up on my Indian spices, rice, wheat and other stuff or if I feel like buying some Indian vegetables that I cannot get elsewhere. While I was at the counter, I was reminded to try the sample of tea they had in the store with some rusk and I happily agreed to. I mean what could be better? Having masala chai (Indian milk tea with spices and ginger) and some rusk (sometimes even better with Samosas or Pakoras) when it was pouring outside is something religious to every Indian in India!  😀

After sipping my tasty masala chai, I left the store, packed all the stuff into my backpack and biked my way to the nearest bus stop for the return journey. I had decided not to bike all the way home since I would either die halfway in the rain, or break my back with the weight I was carrying! I already had loaded my bus fare card loaded for the entire day on any route, so I decided to use it anyway! After waiting for 30 minutes, I caught the bus that took me to another stop from where I had to catch another bus. After waiting for another 30 minutes at the second stop, I boarded the bus and to my surprise, it was the same lady! I was thrilled to be back chatting with her! I learned a lot about what she liked and not liked; about how she was married to her husband for 12 years and how she loves cooking some Indian dishes. We spoke a lot about cooking and exchanged our names. Since I couldn’t write down my name and my hometown which I mentioned earlier, I took her number instead. She would probably be doing a visit to my state and have a good time somewhere next year. After talking about curry leaves, Sambar, Rasam, Jalebis, Gulab Jamuns, Pani Puri, Bhel Puri, etc… it was time for me to get down. It’s worth mentioning that I hadn’t sat in the entire 30 minutes journey and was so interested in talking to this wonderful person. After I got down, I again, biked up the hill home, getting completely soaked head to toe and dripping wet when I reached home.  I texted her my name, my city and the hill station. 🙂

Boy, it was a very wonderful day indeed and I am glad all these things happened. Once again,  I seem to strike the best conversations with strangers. These are moments when I feel glad I don’t own a car and take a bus. It makes me interact with many people but it is always the other person who starts the conversation with me. As much as I would like to be the conversation starter, sometimes I feel like things happen for a reason. These are the simple but wonderful things that make me want to love life, enjoy life as it is and experience more adventures. I’ve always been a couch potato, a rather eccentric introvert who doesn’t like too many people, but lately, travelling and exploring have become something I love these days. part of the reason why I am enjoying these now is because I was brought up in a slightly secluded family and hence, other than my relatives, I never had any close friends till my high school. Now, because I was raised that way, I enjoy my freedom within the limits I think are appropriate. 🙂

These are some stuff which I posted yesterday briefly on Facebook to which, I had made some of the following comments.

Whenever I try to feel happy due to experiences such as these, especially on a rainy day and want to scream at the top of my voice, she (rain) gets jealous and starts pouring again, just to distract me and want to play with her over and over again. She loves to make me get drenched. The funny thing is, I never catch a cold or fever after that even if I don’t take a shower after the act. I always feel like I love her for some reason and she never hurts me. I enjoy her presence, her tranquility and the clearness she brings both in vision as well as in sound. She is a wonderful, beautiful, elegant girl whose presence dignifies my existence. (^_^)

And once again, I really don’t have a better soundtrack to fit in this post since I have run out of any new ones, hence, hope you like this repeat. 🙂

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