Thought I will take a break from my travellogue of China and tell you another story. I met a very dear and old friend the other day who I met some 22 years ago. We worked in the same organisation and in the same function for more than ten years. There was no particular purpose in the meeting, except to catch up with each other after a long time. We sat down with tall glasses of chilled ice tea in the Bangalore afternoon, in a laid back coffee place, watching people passing us by in a languid pace. After a bit of chit-chat, my friend looked at my face and said: “your eyes are looking rather sad, how come”? I was taken aback; for multiple reasons; first I did not think that my eyes were sad and secondly, my friend was never in a habit of being intimate either for himself or towards others.
Yesterday M, our domestic help came a little late to work. Her eyes were puffy and her expressions were sombre. When I asked her what happened, she said that her neighbour had just passed away in the morning, leaving his three little children orphaned. She remained preoccupied the whole day and from time to time, talked about how much she cried. She also spoke over the phone to her other neighbours with an urgency to get back, and she left early. Usually, when I observe people like M and others, I see that there is a great sense of community that prevails among people like her, especially when they are in grief, etc. Everyone comes together, be with the bereaved person, helpful or otherwise; a bit different from the affluent middle class where once your apartment door is shut, you live in your isolated world without any touch with your neighbours. Yesterday, as I watched M being absorbed in the