Stranger in foreign land….

Yesterday was the first day in Shanghai. Morning, I was guided to the office by a colleague, but evening I was left on my own. Morning I was too engrossed talking to a colleague and focusing on understanding and be understood. I didn’t even flag landmarks for my way back. The office not being far from the place I stay, I decided to walk back.

It was drizzling then. Monsoon in China seemed so bearable. I was never a monsoon person. Nevertheless, here I was on the street, walking home with no umbrella.

The drizzles didn’t bother me. I remembered how I despised monsoon. So much that I never left home. I used to postpone or reschedule meetings till it wasn’t raining. And here, the rains seemed to be comforting. Just the right amount, not too much to drench me completely, yet give me a taste of nature’s reviving shower. It seemed like at that moment I was ok with everything. Not knowing, where I was heading. Not caring enough to remember the landmarks nor using an app to guide the way back home. Everything seemed OK. The moment seemed OK. There seemed no reason to will anything else. Be anywhere else. Every step seemed I could just stop right there and still be happy. I didn’t have to stride anywhere to reach my comfort zone. It was right there beneath my feet.

The pavements flanked by trees on either side forming sort of nature’s protective tunnel made it so alluring that every concern faded into oblivion.

It didn’t matter, if I would lose my way. It didn’t matter if the passerbys threw occasional curious glances at me. I didn’t know them. They didn’t know me. And that seemed like a perfect situation. A stranger, walking freely, in a distant land, far from home. Yet I felt so belonged. Why is it that I feel so at peace amongst strangers? My thoughts pulled me out of my usual reclusive zone and I started looking around, observing everything and anything.

I was waiting at the signal for the traffic to turn green. If it was taking a long time, it didn’t bother me. That much time I had to glance down from the bright clear sky, to the wonders created by man. A city that seemed so aligned with practicality of living, that nothing seemed out of place or surplus. Every element, in its rightful place.

The clean tiled pavements, the thoughtfully designed settlements, the parks, the benches, the old couple with their dog, the crowd with their cellphones. The entire city was draped in raincoats and umbrella including the dogs. And there I was an outsider with a hat glancing at everything with a clueless look and a wide smile.

The locals don’t bother about where you come from. If you cared enough to glance at them and manage to spell “nin hao” barely, you were sure to be looked upon with affection. It’s not important to know or speak a local language as long as you can look into someone’s eyes and flash a friendly smile, you may just end up being reciprocated with an equally disarming smile.

May be this is exactly what I like about humans. Compassion without Attachment. Simplest of all relationship. Care enough to be of service to humanity but not too much to intervene with any human’s life flow, as if it’s one’s right.

Perhaps that is why I prefer being on distant land. It allows me to be a stranger and I can witness humanity in its purest form unpolluted by any emotional agenda.

I don’t remember when my mind stopped processing. Usually, am someone who would be running two streams of thoughts simultaneously. Otherwise, it just seemed I was under utilizing my potential. Even if it gave away an impression that I was distracted, it didn’t bother much for I was being more productive.

But here, if I may say so, I realized what it meant to have a calm mind. It’s like being in an ocean and not gulping in water. It was serene. I can’t tell you if I noticed anything good or wonderful. I can’t tell you if there was something discomforting. But I can tell you for sure, that I was calm in my head and in my heart. And that experience was something I don’t remember having for a long, long time.

It’s very unlikely of me to act impulsively, to not plan ahead, to leave anything on the chance, let alone everything. More importantly, it’s very unlikely of me to be comfortable anywhere where I am not understood. Being an obsessive communicator, not being understood, was likely to give me panic attacks. Yet, an impulsive decision to let it flow seemed more relaxing than all the planning and strategizing I could have ever done.

I eventually did reach home and was amused how I managed that without a navigation aid.

I don’t know how long I walked on my way back, but I got a sound 12 hours sleep last night. And those who know me would vouch that I am an insomniac of the worst kind, who goes without sleep for days and eventually succumbs to RedBull to pull off another day.

Before I succumbed into my slumber, one thought echoed in my head and I laughed like crazy – <strong>“Thank God, for the day, I chose to be a Writer!”</strong>

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