Thoughtful...

Curious Case of Mr.Homeless

I was walking back from work recently when I met a homeless man on the street. Days are starting to get longer here and he was certainly making the most of it. He sat on the footpath of the busiest place in town, Princes Street, and he stared obliviously at the castle fading away as the sun set behind it. At first this man didn’t catch my attention. He was one of the many homeless people you walk past everyday. And then…

Then this man rumaged into his rucksack. That’s what caught my attention. He furiously looked for something. I was still at a distance, walking towards him and this sudden disturbance made me cautious. As his attempt to find something seemed to fail, he emptied his rucksack on the floor. Many things fell out. Some clothes, some money, a DSLR camera, packets of cigarette and other things I couldn’t quite see. The camera caught my attention. Was he a thief? I wondered. I didn’t stop walking. Whatever was going on, it was none of my business. I ignored him.

By the time I reached the small little square piece of land he had chosen to sit on, I saw the card board sign he had put up. And he had a small sketch book in his hand and some pencils. The sketch book was no more than the size of a pocket diary. I glanced at the sign… “Homeless by Choice, Do NOT Donate!”

I stopped walking. He sketched away, not really aware of how surprised people were by his sign. I turned around. I didn’t mean to disturb him but I was still curious about such a choice. I was curious about what this person was upto. I stood at a distance, staring at what he stared, trying to peek into his sketchbook. And when he finally finished sketching, I walked up to him, extremely nervous and fidgety. I don’t know why I chose to speak to him but I had to. I was curious about his life, curious about his choice, curious about this whole situation.

“Hi!” I said.

“Oh, I don’t need money, thanks.” – like an automated reply. He still didn’t look up. He was flicking through the pages of his sketch book. Some amazing miniature sketches!!!

“I didn’t mean to offer money, I read your sign.”

Now he looked up.

“Hello then.” He said with a smile.

“I saw you sketching. And I was rude to peek into your sketchbook as you flicked the pages. I’m sorry about that. But you are a wonderful artist.” I said rather nervously.

“Thank you. It is a lovely sight. I had to capture it.”

“Why are you homeless by choice?” I blurted out. And then I realized how ridiculously I had behaved.

“I am so sorry. I should be on my way.” I covered up fo rmy mistake, or tried to, and started walking away.

“Hey that’s absolutely fine, don’t worry.”

“Thanks.”

“Would you like to see my sketches?”

“That would be lovely.” I sat down next to him.

He had some spectacular sketckes in that little book. What was such a fine artist doing on the streets, I wondered!

“I don’t have a family and I love traveling. I can’t afford to travel to different countries or whatever because I don’t make much money from this you see. So I chose the other possible option. traveling by foot. Wherever. Whenever.” He blurted out.

“That’s….” I struggled to get the words out.

He laughed.

“It’s a wonderful choice you’ve made. And I am very glad I decided to stop and say hi.”

“I am glad you stopped by too. It’s not common that people talk to a homeless man.”

“I’m sorry about that. If I bump into you again, we can have a longer conversation. But I’m afraid I’ll have to leave now.”

“I’d be surprised if we bump into each other again…I’m spending the night here but will travel tomorrow. And I hope it will take me to more wonderful places.”

He had no regret about his life, or at least didn’t show it if he did have any. And he was content. And that is such a rare thing these days. He was living the life he had chosen, and was completely happy about his choice.

*****

This happened a while ago and I am certain that the conversation I have written here is not exact but everything was something to the effect of these lines. And that, my friends, was a very very enriching experience in my life…

Sometimes, choices are unconventional…but if they make us happy, I suppose we must make them anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

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36 thoughts on “Curious Case of Mr.Homeless”

  1. Super post, Aish! Yes, I’ve met a few of these ‘free spirits’ myself…both male and female. One springs to mind instantly…He chose that kind of life after having become disillusioned with the futility of ‘Life’ as a ‘Rat Race’……And, he turned out to have been a former University Professor. Brilliant man…I enjoyed chatting to him. Hugs! โค

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Aish! There are many people in this world who forsake the transient for the more enduring….Sadly, they don’t make the news….no money to be made from doing that…. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hugs!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello and thank you for pausing here. Yes it is a stunning story indeed. For a long time I couldn’t believe I had met that man on the streets. It was coincidence that we crossed paths but I’m very glad we did.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely unique! Never expected to meet a man who is homeless by choice. Life has its strange ways of pushing us to the corner and I suppose everyone reacts to it in a different manner ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Hello Aishwarya. What a fantastic story! It’s inspiring of you to choose to go and speak with the guy. I think that i would be too nervous to do the same… And what an enriching experience to find out more about his choices and his life. He sounds like a wonderful person to meet, and it is always great to meet somebody who is happy in their life and whatever choices they have made along the way. Maybe one of your readers will bump into him one day too ๐Ÿ™‚ Take care, and thank you for sharing your story. it made me smile ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad I gave you a smile through this. I have to admit that I was extremely nervous as well. But I was compelled by his choice and I knew I wanted to find out more. And I’m glad I decided to. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. It was one of the most enriching experience of my life. I am not sure I have the strength to make a choice so radical but his choice has empowered me in a strange way. Now I think nothing is the end of the world, everything can be mended and everything can be faced with strength.

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  3. I used to go to an old part of the city to a church basement where homeless persons would come for food and clothing and medical care. My job was to keep order and at the same time help the men and women visitors feel welcome and comfortable. It was quite an eye-opening experience. I wish I could say the persons I met there were happy, but that’s not the right word for what I saw. Many were resilient, they joked a lot, and we’re very polite, even a bit formal at times. Others were distracted, inward, quiet. A few were sullen, or so it seemed. But not one of them complained. They didn’t feel sorry for themselves. I would leave there wondering if I had that kind of strength– to survive without whining, to make the most of an hour, or a day, to just keep going. The man you met was clearly a different sort. I do hope he was happy after you left. I’m sure he was happy that you spoke to him honestly and respectfully.

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    1. Hello Albert, thank you for reading my experience and sharing your wonderful experience with the homeless. You are right, I also left wondering if I had the strength to face life unabashedly like he did, to just ‘live’ and not complain, to face anything with a raw energy and not be too bothered by circumstances. I applaud this man’s choices. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. This post has brought back memories of a German man with whom I spent 11 days in the same dormitory in Igatpuri, India at the International Vipassana Academy in 1989. All were observing ‘Noble Silence’ and were allowed to mingle and talk on the last day. This German had bare minimum belongings in a small rucksack. It was summer time & he chose to remain shirtless all the time with only half a dhothi around his waist like an Indian Sadhu.I got talking to him & asked some personal questions. He told me he is from Germany & as far as possible doesn’t do any work back home. There he earns little & heads back to India where the same little money goes a long way. He was headed for the foothills of our Himalayas where he will be living in the wilderness in the open. I asked him about his views about India & Indians. He told me that India is a great country & the people are very caring. He went on to say that people keep coming with offers of help thinking he is in some trouble due to his appearance. I gave him my office telephone number & asked him to call me if comes back to Mumbai to go home. This free bird chose not to disturb me or be disturbed.

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    1. He sounds like a wonderful man and I hope he found his peace and curiosity for life and everything around him in the wilderness and that he is having a fantastic time. Thank you for sharing your experience ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Hello. I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award! I love reading your blogโ€ฆHere is the linkย https://myhearinglossstory.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/nomination-for-one-lovely-blog-awardthank-you/?preview=trueย Take care. Carly

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  6. what a marvellous little story! It makes me want to bother you with my current story! I go to Lal Bagh every week to meet roses etc. and have found this very sad, very sick, very destitute lady on the way to the park. she is not well mentally and really needs help! each time I pass by I try to think she has someone because sometimes she has been helped to dress! But today again I found her so awfully unhappy I had to start ringing up places that might help. the look in her eyes is like plunging into an ocean of distress! sorry but I just had to blurt it out!

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    1. Thanks for taking the time out to read this post, this is a very special post to me. And thank you more for sharing your experience too. This lady sounds to be in a really sorry state and I hope someone can help her out of this misery or at least that this misery ends for her one way or another. I think living with no dignity of your own is more of a misery than anything else. If death means retaining some amount of that dignity then I believe that’s a better end…

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