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The people who influence us…

April 19, 2010

I came across this post today in a blog I follow. It is about the author’s grandmother who was a great influence on his life and thoughts. And she sounds like a remarkable lady. Though she belonged to a different generation, she seemed to have a spark which is missing even in today’s youth.

It got me thinking about the people I have run into who have perhaps had an influence on me… We were often asked his question – in school, in colleges, in those EQ or whatever exams, in interviews – write a few lines about that one person who influenced your life and how. I could never come up with a satisfactory reply. Part of it was because I didn’t want to reveal something so personal to a nameless, faceless examiner/interviewer somewhere and part of it was because there are so many people who have made me think.

It perhaps starts from my parents, who allowed to me experience and think for myself. We would talk about what I thought – they didn’t tell me what they thought and insist I follow. And perhaps, some of it did rub off on me – my disinclination towards religion and caste… my attitude towards the ineptitude of a government, the cynicism and the humor about it. Which perhaps built into something else. All of which simply cannot be explained in a 3 graph story for a job interview, even if I were willing to write.

But there have been various interesting people I’ve met… people who seemed incredibly weird, eccentric and fascinating who dropped by my house as a kid… Those leftovers of the flower power age, the last straggling hippies… the people who would sit late into the night arguing political policies or literature muses.

But the people I met later in my day, in my age – who were equally fascinating. Perhaps the closest I came to the memorable person recently was in Australia – Diana. The singer/dancer/performer and who knows what else. I sort of gave up talking to people so much after I returned to the city. I did stop paying attention to them… there are so many people after all!!!

So who cares about that beggar who sits on this street, which isn’t really a main road nor a particularly busy one – he is handicapped and i’ve seen him there for at least the past year. I wonder who brings him there, where he sits regardless of how burning the sun is. I wonder what happens to him when it rains, or if he feels thirsty or hungry. It is painful to see such people… so yes, I go the Indian way and block myself to it all.

You cannot avoid the eunuchs in this city even if you wanted to. One such person was Hema – who would – beg would probably be a wrong word and extort would be closer – at the signal near my house. I got tired of shelling out a couple of bucks everytime I passed that traffic light and I finally told her I would give her any money. Finito. For some reason, she figured that was reason enough to talk to me… she figured I passed that way everyday… and we had a conversation. Nothing too personal… She agreed not to harass me or my drivers again and we laughed about how she perhaps made more money than I did. And she told me her birthday (though I can’t remember why) which was only a couple of weeks away. I remembered the date… and her entire group there never harassed me again.

There have been less colorful characters who have been memorable… the druggie I met at Java City, a popular cafe here. He admitted to me that he did drugs because it made him feel depressed and he liked feeling that way. That Lebanese Australian automotive chain owner who sat next to me in the plane and spoke the whole damn way even if I wasn’t listening.

The Jamaican restaurant owner who used to would flirt with every one of us everyday as we passed his restaurant.

The abused, slightly crazy kid who used to work with me.

The driver who drove me around Malaysia and took me to see places I probably wouldn’t have found on my own when he realised I was there alone and I didn’t want the tourist KL.

The group of college kids who took me under their wing when they found out I was traveling alone.

The Swedish girl who partied with me and a friend in Goa.

The Korean guy I met one night at a party who had heard about my company.

The Irish girl at the bar.

So many people… how many of them actually made a difference to my life? You know, like, how I could write about it in a coherent manner. I’ve had epiphanies… like that club in Goa which was half filled with hookers. I never met those hookers… but they helped bring home some facts. Or just the people in that club did. And i’ve met fascinating people who make great stories… and while they’ve never perhaps made a difference in a solid manner, I would not do without them. I like stories… everyone’s stories. It is fun meeting someone who is living something else. Maybe that way you live that life for a bit… or envy them. Or completely change your life. Or realise you could never ever live that way because you are an idiot/ or not an idiot.

The point of this point? Nostalgia. Wondering. Like always. (and yes, i shall stop all these ruminations – soon).

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