Six Degrees of Separation

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 3:36 PM
Aloha everybody!

This place has been barren for so long that I now realize that people will stop visiting it soon if I don’t post something new. What better than a heads up on what I’ve been up to? Currently in Rajasthan with family, your author feels baked like a cookie in the scorching desert sun. Temperatures @ 45 degree Celsius are 7 degrees above normal for this time of the year and I am very certain that global warming is fast catching up. Winters this year were unusually short and the summers are proving unbearably hot (that rhymed!). Anyway, yours truly has never seen warmer years.

Next, a lot of my time is being spent on the two IPLs:
1) the Indian Phoren League and
2) the Inland Political Lacuna.
These are the flavors of the season and I am leaving no stone unturned to get generous ‘bytes’ on both.

Six degrees of separation?
If I could, I would rename it the ‘Two degrees (or maximum three degrees) of Separation’. Beyond that the connection is indecipherable and it’s all a mumbo-jumbo of “face book”ings.

So anyway, this happened when I was traveling back to Jaipur from Delhi in a Volvo last month. The journey is almost 5.5 hours and disinterested as I usually am, I quickly lost interest in my surroundings, and switched on my laptop to play Pacman. After exhausting ten minutes there, my babylike-attentional memory needed a change and I switched to an episode of Prison Break. Ten minutes into the episode, I was starting to yawn (it could’ve been my sloth, or it could’ve been motion), when my co-passenger got inspired and turned on her own laptop. The activity caught my attention and the yawns momentarily stopped. She took out a hard disk (like me), plugged it in her computer and started watching ‘Friends’ (again like me!). In that instant I realized that there was conversational-potential between the two of us. As soon as she stopped watching the episode for a couple of minutes, I pounced and started a conversation:

Me (pointing at her hard disk): “So you have a lot of Friends in there?”
Interesting Co-passenger: “Yup, I got all the seasons with me.”
Me (excited, cause I am a huge Friends fan too): “Hey that’s great! I have them all right here in my disk too and I never get tired of watching them!”
Interesting Co-passenger (excited as me now): “Really?! Neither do I. Must’ve watched all of them almost n number of times! I even remember the dialogues now!”
Me (almost wiping away a tear of joy): “Cool so do I! Awesome. So what else do you watch?”

The conversation proceeds in similar fashion and we realize we watch almost the same kind of soaps. We thought about exchanging movies but there wasn’t much scope as we both had almost the same titles. Next, I asked her what she did and she told me she had started working four days back. Fair. When asked about education, she tells me she’s an English graduate from Miranda House and is two years my senior. Fair again. She asks me about my college and as soon as I say Daulat Ram, she quickly springs up and asks: “Do you know Titir?”

Ofcourse I did. She was my Dramatics Society senior in freshman year. I tell that to my interesting co-passenger and she tells me that Titir now works in her office. Wow. Same interests and now a common university connection… seems my college senior is her colleague. I am bemused, but not stunned, because Delhi University is a vibrant place to be and due to its vastness alumni keep bumping into each other. We discuss Titir for a while, and then I ask her about her interests. Turns out she was an active participant in inter-college events (so was I) and enjoyed Dramatics. Although she was the President of her college Dramsoc in the final year (and I had been kicked out in the first year itself due to my ‘tragic’ acting skills), we hit another note and the conversation refuses to end.

I had cleared Hindu for English honors, she had graduated in English. I am interested in media, she is dating a media person. My family stays in Jaipur, her job has taken her to Jaipur for two years. I am a social butterfly, so is she. I help her draw out a two page MS Word sheet of all the places she should see in the city. She thanks me for all the help.

Bus stops at midway, we get down together. We keep chatting… until the 20 minutes stoppage becomes 40 minutes. The angry bus horn outside breaks the spell and we run to catch the bus (and face the ire of a very angry bus wallah). We settle down, keep talking… laptops are back in the bags and almost 3 hours of the long journey are already over. Conversation refuses to cease.

We speak of college; try to establish more common links. Talking of Miranda House, I happen to mention that my mom is a graduate from the same college. This is when it turns more bizarre.

Me (conversationally): “So you know my mom passed out of Miranda too.”
Interesting Co-passenger: “Really? Which course?”
Me: “Philosophy honors.”
Interesting Co-passenger: “Oh wow! My grandma (she meant nani) used to teach philosophy in the college till the 80s.”
Me (thoughtfully): “Hmmm”
Interesting Co-passenger: “Hey which year did your mom pass out?”
Me (calculating on fingers): “Sometime around 1985, I guess…”
Interesting Co-passenger: “That’s when nani taught there!! Shobhna Sarin!! Any chance she taught your mom too?? She retired in 1987. Has your mom ever mentioned her?”
Me: “The name does ring a tiny bell. But I don’t know for sure. Want me to confirm from mom?”
Interesting Co-passenger: “Yes, if you can!”

I called mom and wonder of all wonders… Shobhna Sarin HAD taught her in college in yesteryears!! Mom is thrilled… so am I… and so is the interesting co-passenger. I make them both talk and ma takes a quick lowdown on what her (strictest) teacher is up to these days. Interesting co-passenger sweetly sings it all on the phone to her. We hang up… and the excitement in the air is tangible. “Small world” is what we both exclaim!

I feel overwhelmed… less because of the similarities (same interests, friends, mom-grandma relationship) and more because of the fact that my interest hasn’t waned in almost 5 hours. This doesn’t happen too often! Destination is nearby and the time to de-board is drawing closer. Discussion is still as furious as ever. The past five hours have flown away in a jiffy. Mentally, I am labeling this my ‘shortest bus ride ever’. Thanks to the interesting co-passenger.

Jaipur arrives, we get down, exchange numbers and part ways. So much still needs to be discussed and we promise to meet up for coffee once the dust settles (she is new to the city). I have a grin on my face and so does she. When I reach home, ma tells me she spent the entire afternoon reminiscing about the teacher and the life that was college. My grin gets wider :)

Post script: (By now you know that P.S. forms an important part of my life. One, cause my disinterested brain refuses to concentrate for more than a fixed duration of time while writing my posts, so I always end up missing one thing or another…. and two, because the more I do it, the more these postscripts become ‘my thing’). So what was I saying… ah yes… this is a small world. We never know who we might come across while doing our routine chores in life. Be it traveling in a bus or sitting in a party (yes, its you I’m talking about :))… new relations come and hit you when you least expect them to. I (being me) can never rule out the possibility of bumping into someone familiar just round the corner. The bus incident is funny and the more I days I spend living on earth, the more I realize that my life is destined to be a series of many such incidents. As I say… its just two degrees of separation between us. Maybe three. Beyond that, its all “face book”ed :)


Anonymous says:

Ges m d 1st to read....lol O mayb the 1st to comment. just gona tel u 1 thg..NICE PIECE OF WRITING!!!

Anonymous says:

language and imagination---"six degrees of separation" is an example..havn't read a better edited blog..let me authenticate each and every word of whatever is written..and well this fuses the positive energy of looking forward for life...difficult to find a better example of "small world"----Interesting Stranger

Keep posting frequently.otherwise u ll loose readers lik me lol :P ...
Instances like this do make world seem pretty small ;)
Another wonderful blog of urs :)

@shakti: thanks ma'am :)

@interesting co-passenger: im flattered :) and thx for the authentication!

@mahi: i cant afford to lose loyals like you! thanks :)

now i m flattered. :P

Yes it is very interesting how at when we meet people and find so many things in common. Nice post.

nice read :D....and such an interesting encounter!

@mahi again: :)

@jess: yup :)

@neha: i know! :)

quite interesting...had a similar encounter in the shatabdi last autumn when the guy next to me turned out to be a friend of the cousin whom i was visiting...he even gave me a lift from the train station...
better than all those friends re-runs you keep seeing :P

@king of laziness: ah. and see there are more people like me who're completely hooked on to friends! :D

hey... interesting ride... its always good fun when one meets people like this... makes one feel that some people are destined to meet!! well, our story may not be similar, but i sure am glad somehwree sitting up there decided we should become friends... and how!! :)

@aditi: dunno how... but im glad :)

Okay first things first
"Friends" is so gay (euphemism for "sucks"):P. But then, each to his own.
"she tells me she’s an English graduate from Miranda House and is two years my senior" - well well, that makes her my sister's classmate. The world is indeed small! (Three degrees of separation if i am allowed to say so? )
Wow! For a change you have written soomething that is not exactly a journo style commentary on the state of things. Light time pass read. Hence, really enjoyable :)

jandeep says:

Very well written.......I found it much more interesting to read it here than when I heard your live narrative in the bus :)
Yeah the world seems too small at times..and you find people whom you feel you should have known for years....and certainly it is while travelling that you have the strangest encounters......and then you keep wondering whether that which happened was a mere coincidence, a stroke of luck, or a were you destined for it!! In any case, whatever happened was good..for you because you found a new friend, and one with common interests.....and for us.......because we got to read another wonderfully written blog!!

@arunabh: well i enjoyed writing it! and about your sister connection... that requires further probing. small world indeed! thanks for the comment! two/three degrees of separation!

@jandeep: so you found the post even without my scrap :) your praises flatter me! and i think these encounters are destined to happen... for me, this is how i have found some of my best people. and then there is you guys. all a matter of reaching out i guess :)

Nice read :)

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