It’s a Small World

It’s a beautiful day in Zagreb. The sun is blazing through with the ferocity of an Indian summer. The balcony door is wide open, bringing in the morning sounds of birds and traffic. Through the big windows along the wall horizontal beams of sun too come rushing through, throwing twisting and twirling patterns on  the wooden floors.

I plan to make a big breakfast and start on a fresh paperback when the doorbell rings. I guess gas inspector, coming for a meter reading or a bored neighbour coming to say welcome. Instead, I  open the door to a saffron kurta, the kind worn by Hindu monks and priests. A few feet above me excited blue eyes say hello.

He is very tall and has a shaved head. He is carrying a hand woven bag, commonly known as a jhola in India, with a bright red Aum drawn on it. He has a few spiritual magazines in his hand. I smile. Of all the people in this alien city, a Hare Krishana has knocked on my door.

“You are Indian?” he asks.

“Yes”

“I love India.”

I’m tempted to say me too, instead I smile and ask, “You’ve been?”

He nods vigorously. “Varanasi, Jaipur, Delhi, Agra …” He goes on to list a number of popular Indian cities, many of which I haven’t seen. He asks how come I’m in Zagreb, as I explain he nods again (I’m not sure why). He apologises for disturbing me and tells me that he drops by from time to time to meet the landlady. Then he wishes me luck and makes to leave. But just as I am about to shut the door he hesitates. He stops on the first step, turns back and asks, “Where are you from?” “Mumbai … Bombay” I answer like it’s obvious. He shakes his head sadly and says he hasn’t been there yet. “But next time …” he promises.

(cross-posted at Matador)

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