Once I had a very strange experience during my morning walk in the Vasundhara colony of Ghaziabad. This is a colony in the development of which I took a keen interest as the Housing Commissioner of Uttar Pradesh. I stay there quite often, even though I have ceased to hold the job, and enjoy the place. Any development in this colony still gives me joy as it relates to my memories. During the above mentioned morning walk, I saw a boy in his school uniform on the roadside, apparently waiting for his school bus. As I approached him, I felt like talking to him in order to know about the progress of schools in the colony. With this intention, I stopped near him and asked his name very affectionately. He paused for a few seconds and then giving a strange look asked me as to how I was concerned with that. I, certainly, was not prepared for such a reply and was, therefore, taken aback for a few seconds. I then asked him if it was this which was taught in his school. To this, he very innocently replied, “We are taught not to talk to the strangers.” This reply of his was sufficient for me to understand his dilemma and I did not raise any further questions.
But this incident made me think deeply about the progress we are making. The child was not to be blamed at all because the school authorities must have genuinely felt that it was the best way of saving children from being cheated by strangers. However, in the process they forgot to realise that if children don’t talk to strangers, whom should they talk to then? After all, to begin with, everyone who comes in our contact is a stranger. It is only when we meet them and talk to them that we get to know them. At best, it can be advised that one should be careful and wise while interacting with a stranger but to put a blanket ban on such interactions is certainly harmful and destructive.
All of us know that our friends were strangers to us at one point of time. Even a mother is a stranger to the child at the time of birth. It is only when they come in contact and interact with each other that a bond is created, which is perhaps the strongest possible bond. The message, therefore, is that if we want to seek inner expansion we must talk to strangers and any advice contrary to this is wrong. I wish that the modern world would realise this fact, so that the joy of living is not lost.