Monday, March 26, 2007

A Man Named Ravi

24 March (Saturday) 11pm

Rain. Rain. Rain. I get off 67 and walk with my umbrella raised above my head. A way ahead of me lies a man, walking along the same lane, at the same time, under the same rainy sky. A few questions of possibility go through my head, and I decide, might as well.

I run over. "Hey. Do you need this?" The man is pleasantly surprised, smiles and says "Thank you". He takes the umbrella and holds it for me, a custom I'm not particularly familiar with. I suddenly feel more like the one being given a favour than the one giving one.

"Your good name, Sir?" Yet another phrase I never hear in Singapore. It feels nice to be treated so politely, a giant change from the hectic pace of life. "Uh, just Herrick. Your name?"

"My name is Ravi." Ravi. "And you're from?" "India." The wonders of what colonialization can do to you. I wonder if I shall ever hear such English in South Africa. "What are you working as?"

"Oh? I'm still studying, actually. I study at NTU. What about you?" A man of his size studying at NTU? Probably Master's or something. "Oh, I'm just from secondary school." "...second year?" "uh, secondary school. ACSI."

"Just a question. What're you studying right now, Ravi?" Any chance to find out anything new about the future. "I'm studying my PhD right now in fiber optics."

"...PhD? Uh, if it doesn't offend you, how old are you right now, Ravi?"

"27." "...27?!" "Is there something weird?" I began to count the years, thinking that that was the issue.

"I did work for one year, actually." "Ah..." "Well, Herrick. Nice to meet you. Thanks for the umbrella."

When I moved on myself then I realized I wanted to ask how the heck he can study for 8 years straight what with all the financial issues. But alas, I can only speculate now as to how he has done so. Scholarships? Rich families? Eternally working part-time? Who knows.

A simple umbrella in the rain. A simple story of a man named Ravi. A simple meeting in life that will never come across again.

I don't know if meeting Spencer Chan has given me any new insights in life, but I do know that meeting people his way is more interesting than any planned meeting will be.

And life goes on.

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