Sunday, 6 January 2019

Unusual Friends - #17 The Others

Ending the Unsual Friends series with #17 and all the others who may not be easy to classify.

I am fast coming to the conclusion that virtually everyone I know is perhaps Unusual. We are all individuals after all, and unique thanks to the 23 times 100 of millions of DNA data points that each of us carries in each cell. However diplomacy and decency dictates that I am discreet and do not offend anyone. You may have noticed that I have to keep personal details out of these stories, and where it was necessary I have asked for the blessing of the people involved. I apologise to anyone who may feel betrayed.
My Chromosome 1 - Self Portrait
To finish I will mention briefly 'friends' or acquaintances, who I came in contact with who were unusual in some way but could not classify. Take the example of one colleague who happened to be looking for a place to live after he arrived from Ireland to a new job in London. Marisol and I had moved to a house and had a spare room. He was very happy to accept our offer to have him stay with us. When I enquired if he needed any help with moving, he said 'Not necessary, I have been living in my car for the last two months'.
Then there was the American man who came to work in the company where I worked, and he had a small side business to make wiring circuits for American cars, which were difficult to obtain in England. So he set up a wiring board in our garage and would spend hours constructing the complex wiring bundles, and by way of compensation would bring an Indian takeaway meal for all of us to have. My son began to call this cuisine 'Max food'. This man was (perhaps still is) a books enthusiast, and introduced us to Hay on Wye, a small sleepy Welsh borders town, which is famous for about thirty book shops. Apart from the proper shops the town is littered with book shelves in the open where people can leave or take books as they wish. There is usually a box (with a lock) into which you can deposit the price of the book sometimes marked on the inside of the book (usually 10 pence or some such small number). These go by the name of 'Honesty Bookshops'. Most of the proper shops are cavernous with millions of books all arranged by categories, and bought  in bulk around the world. In one of these our friend disappeared in to the bowels of the shop and emerged with a specific book about the American student riots in California and showed me a picture in it, which showed him taking part in the riot.
Hay on Wye Bookshops
Moving on I would like to mention a couple of people who surprised us with their addresses. When we lived in Venezuela, a friend from London moved to Papua New Guinea. In 1982 there was no email and mostly we communicated by surface mail, so when December came we wanted to send him a New Year greeting. It took us a while to find the post office, but when we did get to it, it turned out that they had no stamps on that day. Usually it was a ploy to make some extra money, but we decided to come back the next day to find that some small denomination stamps were in. I showed the letter we wanted to post, and the woman at the counter looked at the address and said 'Where is that'?
They had absolutely no idea where PapuaNG was! The small denomination stamps covered the entire envelope with just a small window where the address was.
The other friend with a strange address turned out to be an American friend (who may well be reading this) who took a job working in IT for the American Embassies. Again, we asked him for his address which should have been in Germany, and it came as a bit of a surprise. It went something like:


We joked about it often with him, and he liked to give the impression that they were spies and that their mail was dropped off in the bushes outside their offices and they had to go and retrieve it after dark.
I think it will be amusing to share also a curious contact with an Indian young man, a flowers seller in the streets of Barcelona, who got very interested in finding out how I happened to be here in Spain. There appeared to be a lot of these, with sad faces and looking to make a Euro or two with these often wilted flowers. Cutting to the end of the conversation, after the usual 'where are you from' and all that, when he discovered that I was living here in retirement:
He: Do you get a Pension?
Me: Yes
He: How much do you get every month?
Me: So long (end of conversation) 
Ironing Man 
Another person that comes to mind was the 'Ironing man' who looked after the needs of the street where my parents lived in Delhi. This is a very carefully calculated and organised profession so that there are strict limits to the territory of each man. They usually erect a shack somewhere in a corner on the street, usually close to a lamp post, and proceed to carry out their service and perhaps live under the ironing board and the iron that is heated with live coals. He came every evening and took whatever needed ironing and returned the clothes ironed from the previous day. And he would time his visit every evening with the start of his favourite TV program, and would sit near the TV and watch the show.
And so the list goes on and I have to catch a plane. 
I should end here with a heartfelt thanks to all of the personalities who have contributed to the varied experiences and interacted with me at various levels. As they say, nothing in this life is by accident, of which I am not a firm believer, but perhaps.. perhaps all these people were put in my path by a grand design by the powers that be, to make me the person I am.
Here is looking forward to who I meet next!

No comments: