Thursday, November 13, 2008

Man on the subway

I don't exactly remember the date, time or the subway station we met. But I neatly remember the event, the impromptu nature of it and how it would become a life changer for both of us.

It was RRSP season at the Canadian banks and a time when they'd normally hire temps to process over flow work. As a recent Canadian immigrant, during the late eighties, when foreign qualifications were ignored and foreign sounding names were snored at, I was fortunate to find a temporary job at one of these banks. The open ended job lasted few months, at $7.00/ hr, enough to share the rent with few others, pay for donuts & coffee, subway tickets and occasional beer and phone calls back home to say that I live quite comfortably in Toronto.

It was a cold morning, mid to late November I think and the setting was a subway station platform. As I waited for arrival of the next train, a man approached and stood next to me. He was short haired, looked very young, thin and tall. His aim of life or on that particular day looked as if to get into the subway car to block the brisk cold draught and get warm. There was no smile or introductory nod of any kind. However, without thinking, I reached out and asked whether he is a Tamil. And the answer was 'yes' and that's how our friendship started, 22 years and still counting.

We had lots of common interests, nothing of life ruining kind that normal youngsters take a habit of these days. He also became part of a group of five regular hang-around friends and families. Our bond lasted through good and bad times and he was there to lift and cheer me up when I was wounded or needed a shoulder. I'm not sure I did the same for him but his gracefulness wouldn't claim otherwise. The times moved on. He went on to university, jobs, marriage and kids and I also did similar upwardly mobile steps of life. The usual touch and closeness we had drifted away to other important priorities in life.

However, the one thing that lasted till today, after four presidents of the U.S., many prime ministers of Canada - one that lasted just a month -, two Gulf wars, unfounded WMDs, scores of lives and deaths in unwanted civil, racial and ethnic tensions, bull & bear markets, crashes, lost pensions and such, was that we never forgot to wish each other on our birthdays, no matter where we were and what has been going through in our lives. There was always an email that waited in my inbox on my birthday. Without expectations, without any show-biz kind of courteousness. It was always there; few simple words to say that I still think of you.

And, my friend, I do too. The blog I used to write had gone missing in the virtual clouds, so I'm starting this new blurb; The Daily Sprinkle. And, the first dedication is to you.

Today is November 13th. Happy Birthday!

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