Serendipity in Delhi is more prominent than Dengue fever, and as far as I know it is not transmittable by mosquitoes. While every day of my life here seems to be graced with some small example of the magic, there are a few instances that beg to be written and remembered. I’ll go for the ones worth going for.
So I was talking a lot to this girl I had met in my first few days here, but for some reason we could never hang out. We always had different things going on, and it started to feel hopeless. I hadn’t seen her in probably two weeks when finally we had a date to look forward to. She was having a little ‘shindig’ in Hauz Khas Village to celebrate the end of her nine-day alcohol fast. Everyone has their own accomplishments, so let’s not get too judgmental here. It was all set, I was gonna bring the boyzz to HKV and we’d have a grand ‘ol time. But after we had been out way too late the night before from other serendipitous series of events, when faced with the prospect of going out again we just couldn’t do it.
So I broke the news, got a few casually angry texts and went to bed. The next day it seemed I was forgiven, and if I wanted to meet up and go to a temple to see the final celebration of a national festival I was invited. I had expressed interest prior, but I had to bail yet again, because that night we had to burn the Ravan that the kids in our neighborhood had been building (a 30ft bamboo/paper mache structure filled with M-80’s and burned to the ground). It seemed like the end. I was never gonna see this girl, so we left it at that. We had been out exploring some new areas with another faculty member (from India) and to top it off we went to a Tibetan restaurant in a neighborhood that we had never been to… Lajpat Nagar IV. As we sat and waited for our food, she walked right by the window while casually peering in. I couldn’t tell if she saw me, so I went outside and sure enough she had, but was probably debating whether or not to make anything of it, seeing as I had epically failed to hang out with her. But if for nothing but the sake of serendipity, her and her friend came and sat down with us for a few minutes. Her friend was going to a wedding in a few weeks and was in this neighborhood to buy an outfit. We were there to eat Thupka soup. After she made some hilariously insensitive jokes but ultimately harmless jokes about dog meat and Tibetans, she was off.
Sure, not too insane, perhaps one paragraph too long for such a simple story, but you have to understand that Delhi is home to 22 million people, it is 20% larger than New York and all the boroughs and our place of meeting felt too random and too perfectly timed to just be a usual ‘small world’ occurrence.
We had a few couchsurfers at the place in the first month of living here. First it was a Brazilian guy and girl, second a Spanish guy, and third an Israeli. All these people were awesome, friendly, and so excited to stay with us (have I mentioned our apartment is SWEEEEEET??). With each person or pair we explored a bit of the city, spent some time with some of our other local friends, and just created connections that will surely stretch into the future without any sense or urgency to maintain contact but with the comfort of knowing that you’ve got friends out there in the great big world.
Well it’s been a while since we’ve had any couch surfers and a busy schedule has kept us from traveling much, although Spencer and I have just recently returned from a gig with Tarun (the school director) in Bangalore, and we met up last night with a few of our French friends. They had just been to Amritsar (a trip that I wanted to join them for but couldn’t because of a gig in Delhi), and Alice was telling all about it, the cold, the golden temple, etc. When suddenly her eyes lit up and she said ‘OH YEAH!’ – we ran into The Brazilians AND Javier and we all slept in the Golden Temple. I thought that was a pretty serious omission and was surprised it hand’t been blurted out sooner but mostly I was so stunned that the independent timing of all four parties involved could work out like that. Alice, a French student studying at the local University, Javier, a Spanish dude traveling India for 6 months, and Regina and her friend from Brazil, traveling Southern Asia for a year. All end up in the same city in a different state independent of each other at least 3 weeks after last having seen each other, and end up sleeping in the same room. Think of all the factors at play. If we hadn’t hosted them. If we didn’t know Alice. If I hadn’t gotten dinner with Alice and the Brazilians in HKV one night to discuss a possible trek. If Javier had chosen any other day to go to Amritsar. Too insane really. And Alice was the only one (besides me) who knew everybody, and pulled the whole stunt off. Who knows what kind of timing it took for her to first run into Regina in the street and then later Javier. Wowwwww!!
We had a Spanish couch surfer and as we headed out towards the main road one night somebody stopped us and asked what language we were speaking. ‘Spanish of course!’ Turns out this guy needs some people to translate a script for a National Geographic documentary he’s working on, and while we are supremely under qualified, Spencer and I accepted the challenge. Right place at the right time. Since then we’ve met so many Spanish people so we’ll have no trouble fine-tuning our rough draft.
I went to Hauz Khas one night to meet a couple friends and when they had to leave I decided I would stay. As I was talking to some new Spanish friends I bumped into a girl who I thought was my friends girlfriend. She wasn’t, but the seed was planted, I had a reason to talk to her. But having interrupted a conversation of my own I said I’d catch up with her later and finish up my embarrassing conversation that was dusting off my Spanish with some big Spanish guy in a red sweater who lives in Spain and builds toll roads.
So when I had exhausted my Spanish and had grown bored of the topic I set off to find this girl. There she was seated with like… 7 other girls at the other end of the rooftop bar. So I approached, said hello, and met her friends. I got to talking to one nearby, named Alisha, because we both connected on the topic of music. After the usual Q&A she said she was about to study in Boston. Oh! That’s where I studied, I went to Berklee. Oh! I’m going to Berklee. Small world? Mostly just the fact that I didn’t know any of these girls at all, and here is a girl getting ready to ship off to Berklee.
She couldn’t make our show the next day and we didn’t really talk after that. But a few weeks later after a music festival I found myself at a small ‘after party’ of about 10 chill people and who was it that came down to let us in? Alisha. This time I was with another group of people who I only knew one of prior to that evening. No direct connection. Even the person I knew well didn’t know Alisha. She’ll probably come over this week to play some music and talk about Berklee. Insane.