One word and yet it fills you with myriad thoughts and conclusions and extreme emotions too at times. I’ve seen people shy away from strangers, avoid them, hate them, shout at them, fearful of them, and sometimes wonder at their audacity. The word ‘stranger’ is familiar in our language and this is precisely where the paradox lies.

Just consider a dawn as an example of a stranger that comes knocking at your door every morning. No dawn is similar and thus they are all strangers… and do we shun a dawn? Do we despise it? Does it hurt us? A dawn comes with new dreams and new realisations and I love them. I miss a dawn whenever I sleep late… so I must have missed hundreds of stranger dawns and I am actually left poorer because of that.

I generally don’t like to jog through my life (and though it is fast transforming me into an eighty kilo 50-something embarrassment) because I love to stop and whisper a hello to every smile that happens to pass by. I know that every stranger isn’t a ‘safe’ stranger and some might just turn up to terrorise your life… but then I am not going to miss appreciating a lovely flower or even a thorn for that matter. Everything and everyone begins life as a stranger and we manage to have a few friends by the time we are done with our share of life.

Life is short… and so I think it is fair to go out and make as many friends as possible. And I don’t mean just human friends. Go and travel to riversides, mountain tops, inside forests and you’ll know how many strangers are waiting to extend a hand of friendship. Pause and accept them all and soon you’ll get over your fear of strangers on Facebook wanting to be your friend!

The social media too gives us an opportunity to know more and more people… and yet I notice people waiting to prune their lists or getting worried when too many people come along with their requests. The truth is that I prefer a lot of strangers who are friendly… especially over friends who are behaving like strangers. There was a time when even I had sent hundreds of such requests on Facebook… and now quite a few of those ‘strangers’ are friends… well, virtual friends, let us say. And I feel a lot richer at times. Yes, too many updates can bother me at times… or people can keep popping up on FB chat to ask inane questions just as I am about to catch a brilliant new idea for a blog. So do I get irritated and strike them off from my list of friends? No. There are times when I simply ask them to chat later… but after writing that I generally ask, ‘Well, ok… ask me what it was that you wanted to ask.’ After all, if life didn’t have strangers, it wouldn’t have friends either.

Yes, we have friends because we have strangers. Think about it.



Arvind Passey
02 May 2014