'Hey..looks like you bought along the Indian summer with you to Ireland'.
Hearing the word 'Indian', I turn around and I see a friendly faced stranger smiling and walking towards me. I was on my way back after a weekly shopping spree and was enjoying a leisurely stroll in an entirely new neighborhood. He catches up to where I was standing and smiles again 'Lovely weather aint it..like I said..I believe you bought the Indian summer along with you'.
I smiled back at him and agreed wholeheartedly with his statement.
He: 'I am headed this way too.. Mind if I walk along?'
Me: 'Not at all !'
I had read a gazillion times on how people out here are very friendly and that I shouldn't be surprised if a total stranger approached for small talk. But I had decided to still keep my self defence mentality alert (years of living in India and I was automatically attuned to it). I had never really bothered to pay any heed to anyone or anything around me when I was outside. But today was a beautiful day. Lovely sunshine and a cool pleasant breeze, I had let my guard down and was totally enjoying the day. Hence I figured, I might as well enjoy a total stranger's conversation too. And so we walked.
He was from Ireland. An artist by profession. Not young but not too old either. We had walked for almost 20 minutes. He told me a lot about this country. It's culture, people, food. Told me about places I should visit.. not the regular ones updated in the tourist information links online..but of the hidden beauty of Ireland. He talked in length of the sceneries an artist's brush strokes had duplicated and framed. He quoted some lovely poems describing the beauty of both Ireland and India. In fact he even took me by surprise when he sang the first two lines of the Indian national anthem. While we waited for the pedestrian light to turn green, he unrolled his latest masterpiece and showed me the lovely scenery he was currently painting, along with the photo of the place he had captured to help in replicating it.
Nevertheless to say, it was the best walk ever. I had never realized how easy it was to start a conversation with an absolute stranger. He never asked my name. And neither did I. The entire conversation was about the history, the geography, the deep blue skies, food and almost everything under the sun, except for any details about the 2 individuals who was conversing.
When we reached the cross-points where we are to head off in different directions, he gives me one last statement 'Like 2 people who meet in a train or flight, our paths crossed too. Enjoyed the walk with a lovely lady by my side and if fated, may our paths cross again. Enjoy your stay in Ireland. May you find as much beauty in this lovely land as I did.'
With a 'cheers' we moved on, in different directions.
This day has definitely been one to remember. It's only been sundown since this and I don't even recall the stranger's smiling face. I am pretty sure I would not even recognize him even if our paths ever cross..nor would he recognize me. But the conversation and the wonderful words are imprinted in a tucked away corner of my memory. A day I experienced the little bout of friendliness which added a lot of color to my otherwise listless day. A day to remember.. the day an absolute stranger bought a lasting smile on my face for the day! Thank you stranger..whoever and wherever you are...!