Chance Encounters

It is surprising how living in a big city like Delhi allows for ‘running into’ people at the most random places. It’s even more amazing when these random people are ones you have lost contact with over months and years. And it’s so amazingly surprising when you have such a random chance encounter with someone who has till then been just an acquaintance and the conversation that follows is longer and more substantial than all the conversations you have ever had with them in all the years of knowing them.
I was wondering what picture could possibly fit with this entry.15 minutes on Adobe Illustrator results in this.
It happens so very few times that we actually think of the huge logistics (or lack of) involved in these chance meetings. No two parties decided to be at the same place at the same time, but they did decide their plans for their individual-selves which led to their chance encounter with the other party because the date and time of their individual plans clashed. This sounds so confusing, but it’s actually so simple. But then, it’s not actually so simple! The other day I was at the American Centre and that’s where a chance encounter led to the idea for this entry.

In one of my first visits to the NDTV Studios, back in the first year of graduation, to be part of one of their program’s audience, I met a girl I had known from school. In my two years at DPS, I had never had any interaction with her, but both of us recognized each other by face. We had been in different sections and probably both of us were in the students’ council. There was instant DPS-connect. A short round of introductions followed in the couple of minutes of conversation and we were soon on each other’s facebook friend lists.

That reminds me of the guard we had at the hostel in school. We fondly called him Rana bhaiya and he was one of the less-strict and more-tolerant guards on campus. Couple of years ago, I was out with my college mates at the DLF Promenade mall in Vasant Kunj and there was a chance encounter with Rana bhaiya. I was surprised. He recognized me immediately and we shook hands. Apparently he had changed his job and moved from the school to the mall. For my friends, this was a big surprise- I meeting a security guard and greeting him like an old friend. But for me, it was a pleasant surprise- meeting somebody I knew from somewhere in a completely unexpected and different world!

Then there was this event I had attended during my internship at IANS in June 2011. It was a total lunar eclipse and the event for observation had been organized by SPACE. It was my first overnight assignment and lead to my first newspaper byline story and so, surely not an event I would forget. At the event I met the PR person with whom I had coordinated to reach the venue and another guy from IIIT Delhi who was there for a summer assignment. In the conversations that followed that night while we moon-gazed, the IIIT Delhi guy turned out to be a school friend of a college friend of mine! It was a year and many months later in my final year- I was going through the business cards I had when I noticed a name that seemed to be the same as that of a faculty in my college who had joined recently. I checked the contact number and email id. She was indeed the same PR lady I had met on the lunar eclipse night but I hadn’t realized it in the many conversations I had had with her in college in the last couple of months since she joined! Call these chance encounters!

So, I spent the other day at the American Centre on Kasturba Gandhi Marg in CP watching three films (Monster’s University, Turbo and Epic) as part of an ongoing Children’s Film Festival. For most part of the day I was alone watching the films on a big screen and that too free of cost; after having set out on the mission to not miss this chance of watching three recent feature films that I had missed at the theatre. As I got up from my seat at the end of the third film and prepared to exit the auditorium, I met a college senior who was there watching the film seated in the row behind me. He had left college two years ago and since then and even when he had been in college, I had rarely had a conversation with him. It was a chance encounter that led to almost 45 minutes of conversation on our way back home (different destinations but same bus route) on topics ranging from what we were doing currently to me trying to make him understand the difference between 2D and 3D animation and how the three films we had seen today without 3D glasses were actually 3D animation films!

When we look at these sudden meetings, it’s actually something very normal and non-unnatural. Nothing out-of-the-blue.  But when we think of the scale involved and the chances, it’s something surprising. In Delhi, a city of nearly 2 crore people, we probably know less than 1000. Considering the probability, meeting someone you know is possible in 1 in 20,000 chances i.e. 1 in 20,000 people you randomly meet, would be somebody you know. And then we do have these 1 in 20,000 chances in our favour so many times. Isn’t it surprising? Chance encounters, they are!

PS: I hope I got the probability right, I seem to be forgetting even these basic concepts due to lack of touch with Maths!


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