Today, I had the most emotional and memorable conversation of my journey so far. This happened in Bangalore, a large city located on the south-central tip of India. The city has a population of just under 9 million and is widely regarded as the ‘Silicon Valley’ of India.
This morning I walked to see a famous building called ‘the High Court of Karnataka’. As I turned around after taking a couple pictures, I noticed a man sitting down smiling at me, kind of staring at my tattoos (mother – I knew they’d come in handy!). I walked over 5-feet to him so he could see them a little closer.
The man’s name is Balaji.
After a little conversation about myself, tattoos, and Canada, I asked where he was from. As his grin left his face he looked at me and Kashmir. For those who do not know, Pakistan and India have been in a confrontation off and on for years over a region (called Kashmir) of land located on the border that they both claim as their own.
I asked Balaji what brought him all the way to Bangalore. He responded saying he’s at the park waiting for a friend; but he’s here because he lost his daughter and wife to the war violence back home.
When Balaji was in the train station trying to leave the region, his one bag was stolen, leaving him with nothing. In a desperate attempt to leave he continued onto the train. Once the police found him on the train with no ticket they took him into their office and beat him – breaking his hand.
Balaji is in Bangalore escaping the chaos from the border war, with hopes to travel and meet up with family in Mumbai within the next couple weeks.
His last request to me after we shared a hug was to take a picture of him, so here it is. This experience really made me stop to think about how lucky I am; I will never forget that conversation for the rest of my life.