The bar was reasonably empty in the hotel. So much so, the better. It gave me a chance to grab a glass of wine, sit by myself and read a book. The white noise of folks chatting around me, customers joining and leaving offered me the perfect environment to be in my zone.
As I picked up my head from the book to take a sip of the wine, I heard the gentleman next to me say “1505”. Looks like Patrick, the bartender, had asked him for his room number to start a tab. I tried to get back to my book with some mild thoughts of “what if somebody overhears that and charges their drink to his room?”
That though was quickly disabused when Patrick asked “Last name?”. Of course, he was going to match up in his system to avoid exactly the kind of fraud I was thinking of.
“Mukherjee”, I heard the gentleman say as I tried to look for the spot in the book where I had trailed off.
That last name had me immediately intrigued. I waited for him to finish placing his order. Patrick soon withdrew from the scene to take care of other customers. I lifted my head, turned to my left and finally caught the visage of my bar neighbor. Seemed like a young, well dressed, Indian gentleman.
“Mukherjee, huh?”, I asked.
“That would make you a Bengali, right?”
“Yes. How do you know?”
“Well, it takes one to recognize one. Rajib Roy, by the way”.
“You speak Bengali?”
As with all my intersection points, the rest of the time was spent exploring connections. Once I figured out he had gone to Presidency and was from Kolkata, I knew sooner or later I would find some common threads.
“So, where did you study in Kolkata?”
“Well, outside Kolkata. Narendrapur. It is a Ramakrishna Mission School”.
“I have a vague idea of it. I went there too!!”
Turns out he was in the same campus as I was – although 14 years later.
I fished out a picture of Prabasaj-da and I canoeing last Sunday and told Pinaki (that is his name, btw) – “You see this guy? We canoe together. He is from your old bhavan. This guy was All India 2 in IIT JEE”. I was hoping to impress him that I knew some smart people.
As I continued tracing his life, found out that he was in UK for some time. And also that he was into drama acting.
“Did you ever come across a Mausumi Das?”
“She was big time into drama”
“Yes. We went to school – and I mean from first grade – together!!”
And then it was his turn to enquire. I think he had started thinking about folks my age from Presidency or Narendrapur.
“Do you know Subhendu Dasgupta?”
I thought for a while and had to admit – “I can’t say I am remembering such a name.”
“Subhendu Das Dasgupta”
“Subhendu Das Dasgupta?”
“Yes. I think he goes by Das Dasgupta also.”
“Ah! You are thinking of Tathagata Dasgupta.”
“Oh yes! Tathagata. Why am I saying Subhendu? Do you know him?”
“Know him? Let’s see – we went to school together in Durgapur. We worked together in the same company in Dallas. His sister and my wife were classmates. We were in his place in California a couple of months back. And yes! I was talking to his wife Monalisa an hour back to wish her a happy birthday!!”
You can only imagine his reaction!!
We got Patrick to take a picture of us, exchanged our contacts and called it a night! We promised to see each other in Raleigh or Atlanta when our travel takes us to each others’ cities.
Today, I started traveling for work after a LONG time and the intersection points started flowing almost immediately!!
Still love talking to strangers. How else do you make new friends?