Sometime, I think during day two of the Literature Festival that I attended in Jaipur, I looked up from a bench that I was seated on to see a woman coming towards me with a look of immense glee adorning her face. A moment of intense recognition passed between us, and I all but bounced off my seat to hug and greet her, all the while doing the math in my head as to how I might actually know her and more so, searching the files in my head for a name. The mind is a soldier, and will quickly look to reasoning the name, place, event or some or other marker that will explain the familiarity.
The intense familiarity, as I said before.
And when that moment had passed, and we enquired after each others names, we discovered to both our surprise, that we had not ever met before. Emma is from the UK, and now lives in Delhi with her family. I thought I'd met her back home in South Africa. I was wrong. But then, she too, was oddly caught off guard that I wasn't really known to her. We chatted on for a bit, she introduced me to her companion, and then we became friends. We bumped into each other a few times more over the remaining days at the festival.
On day three, I met Deepika. Also by chance; as I think she was friendly enough to strike up a casual conversation when we were seated together, also outside the Dharbar Hall at Diggi Palace (I just realised that it was the same place that I had met Emma). And we proceeded to some of the sessions together, and chatted on for a while. I was struck by the familiarity in our exchange, and I must say that the magneticism of some people will always leave an indelible impression.
Or perhaps its just India. The space of mystery around the heritage site that was host to the celebration of the art of writing, as opposed to the commercialisation of the sacred space. And the energy of the people who converged on the space almost like pilgrims, intent on being nurtured and sharing the magic of the bookish events there.
I think its just India.
And whatever it is about being in an ancient, flowing mass of energy that millions of people call 'Mother Land' that draws people to it, as well as it being the space within which people, souls rather, are drawn to each other, almost as though they are known to each other all along.
Emma and Deepika really seemed to know me a long time in the space of a few minutes. I did wonder if they would recall their encounter with me. And then I got mail from Deepika, confirming just that.
So. I think its something to do with the air in India.
I think, its just India.
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