By Rose Kattackal
Writing is about thoughts, sometimes on the move, at other times up and down as well as sideways. At the end of its road, it might change its mind, go to the beginning or stall on the way back and forth. As dizziness sets in from the circling patterns, finally something of value and meaning emerges. Let us start.
I could follow the trails in our homes, schools, and workplaces, where we learn how to listen and converse with people. There is a familiarity in these structured or random interactions. What about the trails that lead to those that are more accidental? What goes on in those chance meetings? Are they different from the more familiar meet ups? Are there new trails to be discovered?
Take the taxi driver. A ride to the airport via a train journey from my home is set up with a time and pick up point, with a driver - a stranger. How about asking him or her how the day has been so far?
I did and discovered Sam had just visited the dentist. I asked if it was painful. He said no and went to recount how in the old days it was always painful. Nowadays with the modern technology it is a pleasant experience. Imagine that! I speculate how mine will be in three weeks.
Sam asked where I was going. Ireland, I responded. He reminisced about his time in the United Kingdom from Kuwait. He then declared Margaret Thatcher (unlike today’s leaders) was visionary leader by setting up the technology infrastructure. In his view she was a person 30 years ahead of her time. Although, there are many visionary leaders, I wondered why he did not cite her less popular policies.
He mentioned that his daughter was visiting from London, England, where she has a position with an international bank. He misses her but recognized this was great international experience. He added his son is an engineer working on a hydrogen project which may become the next source of alternative energy. Sam thought about how he came to Canada with an engineering degree 15 years ago and sadly, as with many internationally educated professionals, he could not have his credentials recognized and therefore had to seek alternative employment.
Did I detect regret in his voice? As if he was reading my mind, he said, despite his choice he was happy that his children benefited and were doing well. I could sense his pride in his children’s accomplishments. These were his too. I admired him for viewing his lost opportunity - an injustice - as a delayed third-party achievement.
Trailing onward to Ireland. What if someone were to ask me how my day was going after I landed in the Dublin airport.
To start, not so well. After a tiring six-hour flight, I was waiting for the luggage at the turnstile. It seemed like eternity before it arrived. With my luggage, purse, and sweater in toe, I headed to the exit. I was excited to be at my holiday destination when I noticed my eyeglasses were missing. I had taken them off at the turnstile and thought they were hanging around my neck.
In a matter of a couple of minutes my excitement turned to anxiety. I would miss seeing the Irish landscape, the rolling seas, and the castles in the distance to name a few. My holiday was partially ruined. What could I do? I thought of retracing my steps to the arrival area, but soon realized that security would not allow it. I also searched for an airport employee. I could not see anyone who could help. As I gave up, a dead end, going back and forth, I reminded myself, that I had spare glasses and contact lens in my bag. They would suffice.
Then out of nowhere, this bearded gentleman, tapped me on the shoulder asking whether the spectacles in his hands belonged to me. They did! My day had gone from excitement to anxiety to acceptance to pondering the mystery of how this man found me.
If only he knew how much his goodness – his hospitality meant to me. I wanted to hug him, but alas he disappeared into the crowd. I wonder if he remembers.