“Itna dhyan se toh koi desh ki prime minister ko bhi bolte huye nahi sunta, ab koi bahar se aa gaya toh dekho kaise sun rahe hai log”
Which translated goes something like this: Nobody pays attention to the Prime Minister’s speech but a foreigner speaks and see how they all listen to him. Quite a hurtful sentence spoken by someone right behind me when all this was happening today….
It all started with a dream- a dream to settle down in Manhattan someday and then the dream got slightly bigger- to go to New York, hunt down Brandon Stanton and get a picture clicked with him. No, I don’t care about being featured on his blog, the very famous Humans of New York, although if I did get featured that would be AWESOME!
I only wanted to meet him, say hello, smile, take a picture and know that I got a chance to meet my biggest inspiration in life and I kept dreaming about it since the past couple of years because going to USA was out of question. And then, the United Nations decided that Brandon needs to go on a tour to a number of countries and bring forward the customs, people, cultures, impoverishment, women from different countries and help eradicate such problems, break stereotypes relating to certain countries and unite us all HONY lovers, which should actually be called HOPE now, Humans of Planet Earth and surely hope he gives. A Hope to see a better day. A hope to have more people like Brandon emerge and a hope that someday these barriers will no longer be there amongst us.
Coming back to today, Brandon had just posted a picture of Central Park, Connaught Place in New Delhi saying that his fans could meet and say “Hi!” and it doesn’t take a genius to guess what I did next. I dropped everything I was doing, got ready and left. I was two hours early from 6pm when he was supposed to be there but I knew I had to do this, I knew I had to step ahead and make my dream come true and also for some reason, I knew he would reach early.
A million onlookers stared, some passed snide remarks and some found it funny that a girl sat there alone in the park with a roving eye (not in a bad way, I was only keeping an eye on every foreigner guy entering the park). But I waited there patiently for an hour and half till I got bored and got up to do some walking and the moment I did, I see a guy in mint green shirt walk towards the central area of the park along with his loyal fans tailing behind him. The very sight of him radiates optimism like I have never seen before, one immediately becomes joyful. Atleast, that’s how I felt. I walked up to say “hi” and his smile stole my breath away; he was such a warm human, exactly how I expected him to be.
I wanted an interview with him for the company I work with but he was not going to be in Delhi for a long time so instead I decided to settle for a picture with him and he gladly obliged, making me feel important, accomplished, satisfied and most of all, happy. It was a different kind of happiness, a happiness that meant, “go ahead girl, you got this!”
He was really eager to have a small talk with us and that was simply a bonus for all the fans that started to gather soon after he reached along with people like the guy I quoted above thinking, “who the hell is this white guy?” There were even some teenagers wanting to know if Shahrukh Khan was there. The blissful joy of ignorance, I say.
From the moment he began with his speech, I decided there was no speech more inspiring than this. Whatever he said was scary, nerve wracking, bold yet had every bit of magic in it. It wasn’t a rosy tale of how things fell into place for him since the very first day, it was his journey telling how many times we may fail before we see that first real fan who obviously isn’t our sister, mother or best friend. The first real fan who doesn’t know you but appreciates your work like no one else and that is when you will know that you have succeeded and truly, there couldn’t be anything more real than that. It just made me want to hone my creative skills day in and day out to achieve even one-fourth of who he is today.
He spoke about how when he started with HONY, he was broke, slept on a mattress in a tiny NY flat, persistently kept clicking pictures of strangers and kept believing in his passion that is making people come alive, bringing out their struggles, show how we all are alike no matter which part of the world it is, making it a common platform of encouragement and most of all being a hunter of humans- the ones that still prove that humanity isn’t long gone.
Through The Lanes, can never be HONY, heck! I don’t even want it to be HONY, but from what I have learnt today, I will work consistently no matter how bad my days are, no matter how tired I am, no matter how few places I have been to. I will always manage to bring to you guys the promise that this blog made, i.e., to dish out one lane at a time!
And also to believe, that when you truly want something, nothing and nobody can stop you from achieving it. Even if it was only an ambiguous dream.