The Human Connection


In the immense, swarming hive of London, it is easy to avoid human connection. Much easier to avert one’s eyes or block out the city’s voices with the headphones of one’s iPod.

So, it came as a pleasant surprise when I stepped into the crowded bus on Tuesday morning and was greeted by an older man with a trim beard, sparkly eyes and a jaunty hat. Our eyes met and we smiled at each other for a few moments. During the short bus journey, I turned to look at him a couple of times and he returned my gaze. As the bus approached its third stop, I felt a hand touch my own. I turned and the gentleman said ‘Goodbye’, before he alighted.

The other passengers around me were oblivious to this exchange, but it touched me deeply. There was something mystical about the encounter.

The following day, on the underground, I noticed a young man examining his finger, which appeared to be quite badly cut and bleeding. He began to search in his bag for something. In my pocket I had some tissue, which I offered to him, He accepted it. He did not look at me, or speak to me further. Yet, I was left with a sweet glow inside for having been able to offer some help to a fellow human being, albeit in a small way.

Later, I was on an overground train from London to East Sussex. Two West Indian gentlemen said, ‘Good Morning’ and sat down opposite me. Throughout the hour-long journey we did not really speak, although they offered me some sweets and I said goodbye when I left the train. However, it felt like we had acknowledged one another in a simple, human way, often lacking in the London buzz.

My final encounter came on Friday. As Premasagar and I headed towards home from an evening stroll, we came across an elderly woman standing in the street. She appeared to be confused, so I asked her is she was OK.

Mistaking me for someone she once knew, she began talking to us. Her speech was a mixture of English and another language she explained was Greek.

It soon became clear that she was lost and could not tell us where she was staying. Her speech was repetitive and confused. While Prem called for help, I walked up and down the street with Pishpa clutching my arm. She was a charming lady with a warm smile and a quick sense of humour.

Eventually, an ambulance arrived. We took her inside the van and wrapped her in a blanket. The paramedics tried to find out more about her. Finally, she agreed to go to the hospital for some food and rest.

Shortly before leaving, I said to her, ‘Go to the hospital and get something warm to eat and drink and have a rest.’ She looked at me with a cheeky grin and said, ‘Yes, Mummy!’

Prem and I walked home as the ambulance drove away.

It would have been so easy to pass her by, to smile and walk on, but we didn’t. We stopped and connected with her, and she was safer and our lives richer for it.

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4 Responses to The Human Connection

  1. Watson (of the great adventures of Sherlock Holmes) has once said that London is a cesspool, not just a cesspool but one formed of human beings. Having lived almost the entirety of my life in a smaller city , namely Trivandrum (south India) even I can connect with the phrase ‘cesspool of human beings’. I put it ‘a squalid human togetherness’.

    I have done the same(former part of your article) ! I have silenced the ambient noises of the city with the headphones of my music player. I could not afford an apple ipod , so mine is a lesser one in price and features. My music was mostly Indian and yours were most probably English. I have tried to shut out unconnected people out of my lives.

    Last November I was touring rural Trivandrum with a purpose and I was biking alone towards Palode. I was passing through a particularly hilly terrain and for a kilometer i came across no human being. The endless green plantations on my sides let me wonder whether I am off-route, and trespassing through private estate land. There along a bend on the road that was upward slopy too , I met an old man walking. I asked him direction to Palode and viola I was on the way. For another one kilometer I met no one. And then the small hamlets so particular of rural Kerala (the state/province of which Trivandrum is the capital) started re-appearing.

    This time one among the rustic folk connected with me.
    “Man cannot walk alone. Man has to walk different roads” – quoted from faint memory.


    i stumbled upon your blog while searching for prabhat samgiita. I was led to your flickr post. Then reaching your blog was a natural consequence. I do not know whether I will visit again. But it was a thrill to realize that there are people worth connecting to.

    When I am clueless I too embark on journeys of meditation and learning. I have tried to learn of God. In thus my pursuits he has eluded me. But He often comes to me in subtle ways; in travel as a guiding light, in cyberspace as delightful blogs and in pursuits as challenges.

    Fellow margi.

  2. eric says:

    nice work man

  3. That was an awesome story. It made me feel good to hear it, and made me want to be a better person and follow in your example. I wish there were more people like you in the world. If we all took a little more time in our day, to pay attention to others around, we could easily find at least one person in need during the day. The need could easily be remidied without financial support ususally. let’s all try to be better!

  4. Spoonfed says:

    I loved reading this blog! I only moved to London a year ago and when I first got here I was surprised by how so many ignored everyone else. I started making a real effort a few months ago to be nice to all the people I met on public transport and people have been a lot friendlier to me ever since. Good stuff!