The People You Meet

Or rather, the people who meet you.

Stepping out yesterday a gentleman stopped me in the street.  He had a mobile telephone to his ear and I assumed his stopping me with an “excuse me, please” was a simple request as to where the nearest subway is, time of day, whatever.  I wish.

The weather here in New York is warming up in a big way and thoughts are turning to air conditioning, summer dresses, sandals, and tender winter feet being exposed. So, with a spring in my step and painted nails at the end of my feet, I stepped out in my new summer dress with a degree of vigour, vim and purpose.

More than happy to help guide a stranger in navigating the neighbourhood ( I jump to tall conclusions in a single bound . . . ) I was more than a little taken aback when he began paying me compliments on my appearance.  In hushed tones of confidentiality. “But,”  he said, “you have problems of the heart, I can see.” This was all such a fantastic turn of events, and, thrilled with the random nature of this, I was curious to know more.

“Do you meditate?” he asked me.  “I can see your problem.  I saw you coming down the street and I saw your third eye.”  This I took to be the train tracks down the centre of my well-worn forehead.

While he was talking, I clocked his looks thinking such facts might come in handy should the police later want a detailed description of the suspect last seen lurking in the far east of the upper-east side of NYC. He wore a dark navy suit with an open neck dark shirt and some brown beads around his neck. His complexion, salt and pepper beard with longish dark hair had him hailing from the sub-continent of India.  In short, nothing terribly unexceptional in this part of the world.

“I am a guru and I know your problem.  You think too much.”  Well, this had me floored.  Floored on a number of levels. Beginning with “Oh My God! How do you know this about me?” through to “Hang on a minute, of course I think too much, doesn’t everyone?”

Therapy at last!  And it has come to me!  My very own Guru!

Lose the turban, trim the beard and the background, put on a suit . . .

He talked to me about the state of my heart without my having to say a word.  I was in awe as this stranger spoke about me, to me as though we were old friends from long ago.  He had by now clocked the mobile phone and put it in his pocket. “Can I call you back, something has just come up.”

His earnest concern for the state of my well-being was touching. “Tell me,” he said, “can we go somewhere and have coffee, talk about this? I can help you.”

I thought.  Long and hard in the matter of a long, drawn out nano-second.  What would Jane Eyre, Jane Austin, Margaret Drabble, Anita Brookner, Anne Tyler or Norah Ephron have done in my place?  Where and when everything that happens makes for good copy?  Throw in a good dose of imagination and run with the speculation of what if . . .

No to coffee.  I was busy.  Things to do, places to be.  Plus, we had only just met.  Another time, perhaps.

My husband called later from San Francisco.  I told him about the guru in the “guess what happened to me today?” style of eagerness to share but I didn’t get to say too much because he was in San Francisco ordering his lunch from a sandwich bar and I was in the middle of a noisy construction zone with a heavy load of groceries.

I so needed a cup of coffee.

UPDATE:  Careful meditation upon this particular event has led me to suspect, through the super-vision of my third eye, an international telephone scam at work. Or is this simply the state of my cruel, problem heart at work?