By Sagar Malik
‘You look lost’, he said.
‘Uh. No, thanks.’ Then she turned and walked.
He shrugged and went back to his friends.
She was lost. But this was a strange man.
We all know about strange men in this city.
By now we should know which of our stories are cool. We’ll figure out how best to tell them as we go along, but do you know who hasn’t heard them before?
Strangers present possibility. They could introduce you to Ethiopian food or Tom Odell, or re-introduce you to Hauz Khas Village. And you with your equal rights and your tapered jeans, you could make them reconsider their opinions. You could drink coffee and battle cynicism together.
I saw her at a bar. Her, and a self-referential joke, alone in the corner. Not some old hag who needed to get laid. This girl would get meta. She would make me listen to new music. We’d brunch. Drink wine. Argue about the French Revolution. And I would say, ‘I don’t read Dumas.’
Or she could be crazy. She could keep my eyelashes in a book. No one knows about the crazy women in this city.
‘It was meant to be.’
When you hear the stories of the one great love of someone’s life, they’ll wistfully talk about serendipity. People who went to the same college. People who went to the same school. Uncles and aunties who took the same bus forty years ago and eventually got married and now don’t shut up about it despite raising two teenagers who live in constant embarrassment.
It wasn’t chance. It was just the only chance they took.
You work with the people in your office; share history with the people you grew up with. You juice with the people at your gym and live with the people in your house.
To fill your stomach. To strengthen your core. To warm your heart.
I’m pretty sure we’re leaving something out.
Intellectual curiosity sounds like the kind of pretentious bullshit I’d say if I hadn’t met new people who’d inspired me to thoughtfulness. Strangers do that. Their diversity reminds you of the thousands of ways there are to live, to be, to consider.
And if it doesn’t, it should. Even if you never ache to know more, it has to be folly to assume that the way you are is the way you should be.
Oh, and the head. We’d left out the head.
People represent thousands of cultures, millions of stories, and even more experiences.
It’s a shame if your consumption of that information is restricted to a lukewarm smile and a ‘It’s nice to meet you.’, followed by returning to check out Instagram.
Maybe we got the reputation we have because people kept confusing these moments for arrogance.
‘You look lost.’
‘Oh no, I’m right here. This is where I always put me.’
I know some people who’re only meeting new people that their parents are introducing them to. They’re only going to take one chance too, and they’re going to bore us with stories of how they were destined to be together.
‘That guy with the phone, go talk to him.’
‘No, ya. What’ll I even say?’
‘Say that he’s at a bar, and there are better things outside his phone than in it.’
‘You’re cray. I’m not that kind of girl.’
‘And you’ll never find out what kind, not like this.’