Short stories of people I met once upon a time in India.
The only thing these people have in common is that I’ve met them all. Actually, some have met each other, but other than our paths crossing at some point on Indian soil, there’s nothing else linking everyone together. The three people I have chosen for the Indian Edition of Someone I Once Met all influenced me somehow, even if it was in the smallest way. A bond, a funny moment, a touching story.
The first person I met in India, besides the guy who picked me up from the airport, was a young lady by the name of Laura. Our first exchange of words was early in the morning, shortly after landing in Mumbai, when I climbed into bed next to her. This wasn’t a dorm or the sharing of a bed between two friends. This was a private room and a double bed shared between two strangers. The only thing we had in common at that point was that we both knew my brother, I from birth and her from their stint teaching in South Korea.
We didn’t know each other but knew we were arriving in the same strange and crazy land on the same day, so we did what anyone would do and booked a bed to share. I was hardly able to eke out the pleasantries before fading off to sleep . Later, we continued the sharing as we left our room together and let Mumbai unleash herself on us.
Two strangers became travel buddies and friends over the next few weeks, eventually sharing a love for photography and blogging rather than just knowing my brother. Find Laura’s blog here at Cherishing the Cherry Blossoms.
Laura and I went to Goa where we met Jonty, an Indian fellow from Delhi. Since Goa is one of the few places in India where alcohol is easily accessible and consumed in abundance, it’s no wonder Jonty was never seen without a drink and cigarette in hand. It could have simply been because he was in Goa or, it was what my over-analytical brain saw as escapism.
Jonty had us all-ears when he told stories of being unfairly locked up in an Indian jail for months and the time when he followed his girlfriend to Russia where she unleashed a Russian mob on him. Tied and beaten up for days by angry Russian men, interspersed with bouts of oral pleasure performed by the same girl who had put him there. Unbelievable, literally. But those days were behind him, he couldn’t be trying to escape those still.
This time he was running away from his arranged marriage. Not ready to be tied to a girl he picked out from a bunch of photographs, he got on a train to where we would meet and befriend him, on a Goan beach. A place where he captivated us with his stories and where we taught him to swim.
Skip forward a couple of weeks and meet Annie. She looks every bit foreign until she opens her mouth and you’re hit with a wave of Australian. But who is this Aussie chick and why does she look so….. Tibetan? Well that’s easy, sort of. 30 or so years ago a young Tibetan women escaped her arranged marriage and fled to Australia. (notice the theme here).
Shortly after arriving she realised she was pregnant. The young, pregnant Tibetan woman miraculously found stability and love in the form of a young Tibetan man. Then something happened that westerners, like myself, struggle to understand. The Tibetan man, although committed and in love, refused to raise the baby as his own. And so, when Annie was born, she was given up for adoption and raised by an Australian family.
Years later, when Annie was a teenager, she met her biological mother, the man who wouldn’t raise her as his own, and her siblings- the children her mother went on to have. They are all friends today.
This bright and beautiful young lady took herself off to Dharamshala, the place she would have called home and the place I met her. Here Annie plans to get in touch with her roots and understand the community that would have been hers. She also calmly recites her story to interested folks like me as if she hadn’t explained it 100 times before.