HARISH DIDO | 01 Aug 2013

transfer is a part of service as I too had to serve for about ten years away from my home town. The stranger often calls me from his new place of posting but he is no more strangers for me now.

A few days back, I met a stranger in the train with long grey hair, a middle colour look, neither blackish nor whitish look but looks to be educated as he was keeping anEnglish magazine in his hand.  I could not have a glance over the title of the magazine except the starting word “Fr” and last words as “Thoughts”. I could not make it the complete title as to whether it is From, Free, Frightened or Frozen as the magazine was in a rolled position in one of his hand. But he was not moving his eye-lids and constantly watching out of the window and sometimes to me and also to the paper kept inside the magazine.  By his side, he was also having one small week-ender bag.  Perhaps going back to his home as it was Saturday evening Shatabadi from Delhi to Chandigarh.


To my mind, starting conversation with a stranger can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Every conversation runs its course within a similar outline: making first contact, introductions, speaking with each other, and then ending the conversation - hopefully with plans to meet again.


The purpose of breaking the ice with someone new isn’t to show off your amazing conversational skills. Instead, think of your initial contact as a way to show a potential date that you’d like to talk to them.


As a child, I was always told that we should not talk to strangers.  For children, this is wise advice, for there are many abusive people out there who wish to hurt and sexually abuse innocent children.  For them, a precautionary approach is best.  The advice also holds for people who are making their way home in sketchy urban areas late at night, where muggers and rapists sometimes lay waiting.  But there are many occasions when conversations with strangers can be wonderfully illuminating.


Our social norms almost discourage us from sharing with others, telling us that we had better be quiet if we don’t want to be perceived as strange.  


When we are open and adaptable, there is nothing that life can throw at us that we cannot handle.  When we cannot find a way, life teaches us to make one.


I don't discourage supervised chit-chat with strangers. We've had a lot of pleasant conversations with random people on the street.


Unfortunately, though, some strangers can be dangerous, and it's impossible to tell who's OK and who's not. A dangerous person doesn't necessarily look scary or mean — the person might look nice.


That's why it's important to follow these safety rules all the time like make your whereabouts known, stick with a friend, pick out safe spots, avoid places that are not safe, stay away from strangers cars, make a lot of noise if you are scared, trust your instincts.


Anyhow, for breaking the silence, I got a chance to have a look at the magazine when he left to go to the wash-room and left the magazine on the seat. The curiosity was now more for the paper inside the magazine, to which he was seeing again and again, than the title of the magazine.  


Having quick glance over the paper inside the magazine, it was a matter of pleasure as it was his promotion orders but the sad part was his transfer orders in the same order on promotion from Delhi to Chennai in nationalized bank, might be a far off place from his home town.   My all presumptions about his look as a stranger were false and I was normal when he settled back to his seat.  I could now well understand his frequent gestures of seeing the paper inside the magazine.  


He, however, told himself the whole story of promotion and transfer as with a glimpse of fraction of seconds, he has seen me reading the contents of the paper, while coming back to the seat.  During the course of discussions, I consoled him that transfer is a part of service as I too had to serve for about ten years away from my home town. The stranger often calls me from his new place of posting but he is no more strangers for me now.