Tale of an adventure - meeting Everyday people wherever they are

100 Strangers, 100 Personalities, 100 Stories

welcome to yet another episode

Published April 06, 2022

Another wonderful day here in Sydney CBD and I wanted to take some photos. When I came to the station it was five more minutes to go before the train would arrive. As I got onboard, I noticed the top deck was full, and as such I came to the lower deck and took the back seat – an entire array of seats all for myself. I set with my body slightly spread across. Well, probably you would call it “manspreading”.

Today surprisingly though I was fully awake during this journey by train to CBD episode. Not because I was super excited or some sort of magical intervention but because of the wonderful lady who took the other seat across. She has been super loud with her phone conversation which to be honest sounded like she might be having a nervous breakdown soon, or the person listening to her on the other side; either of them or perhaps both.

I amped up the volume of my music but still I felt like my rickety headphone was no match for her shrieking tirades. With this drama ended slightly after midway, I felt excited to see the sunshine through the windows. I got off at Wynyard station and headed off to martin place. It’s an open space with lots of traffic – surely a place for some adventure project. I walked all the way to the far end away from George St and near the fountain at that moment. Now, while walking back, I suddenly noticed her coming towards me from the other side (George St side). I am not sure what exactly caught my attention. But my strangers’ approach autopilot stopped her – “hey” waving my hand. “Busy? Can I ask you something?” “yeah” “I would like to take a photo of yours. It’s for a project”

I was recently asked by one of my encounters as to what made me approach her. That was pretty easy for her case but this one seems like a bit tough. With her business-like attire, I definitely knew she would be going to work, at work or on a break. I have been thinking however, to get busy people into this project lately even in not so frequent places and in not so relaxed situations even during those days while its rainy and so on so forth – tougher challenges, tighter situations etc. In fact, I approached a few more after this one who were on their lunch break (apparently) siting on the stairs, eating lunch or have just finished. That being said, I definitely like to get to know my subject properly and the longer you spend the more chances you have of capturing something wonderful. More clicks equal better photos – the equation fairly simple.

So, in this case it could just be the former – “she is definitely going to work so let’s try to get her in” was probably the reason I approached her. Or it could be the turtleneck sweater, or her unburnished simplicity in the looks – I don’t know for sure. Usually, people who are busy they seem to be not so keen on joining. I have had it many times when after the initial approach my stranger would say “sorry, I have a meeting in five minutes”. Nonetheless, I decided to stop her, and she seemed to have heard about it before. When I asked, “have you heard about 100 Strangers”? “Is it like the US?” she replied or something similar.

Since she was going to work, I wanted to keep it super short and as such I took her to the lobby at the Martin Place art gallery where I decided to take a few pictures.

So, here is Emily Rayburn (Erae) hailed from the Byron Bay and living in Sydney because of her work for last two years. Erae was her nickname given by her father. Incidentally though, I found it rather interesting then Emily or Rayburn. As we started talking in that very short interval, something came up which I would say worth mentioning here. Sometimes some incidents in life can make a big difference and can shape personalities in unexpected ways. One such happening is when people face extreme pain and yet remain positive to life.

During my photography journey I faced some situations where I was afraid, I feared of something bad coming on my way. Unknown people, unknown situations – there is always a suspense, some tensions. I asked, “have you ever been in life and death situations?” She replied of suffering severe injuries while falling from the tree which pushed her life to the inches. “How did you feel?” “I am like a cat with nine lives” – she replied with a big smile on her face.
When I asked, “is it because cat has higher stamina”? Her reply somehow surprised me. She referred to a term called “reincarnation”

I am a big fan of religion by the way, and in fact I follow the religion which predates written history. One of my spiritual heroes is Swami Vivekananda. In fact, inspired by Vivekananda, I discuss many of his religious philosophies in my YouTube channel and always welcome opinions of others. In this day and age of rampant atheism it’s hard to find people who are interested in religion. I cannot guarantee whether she likes religion or philosophy, but reincarnation was indeed an association to religion or more so with death. Is it that death, fear of dying or the process itself that makes people religious? I can’t tell for sure. Death is a mystery. Some will say it’s all nonsense. There is no afterlife; we are here now and that’s it. I cannot argue with that either. Well, at least not on a blog post.

As the day went on, I drifted away from those puzzling questions into the mundane of rituals, into the hustle and bustle of everyday life. To me, what matters the most is finding a passion, a drive to jump up from the bed in the morning, doing something that you love and loving those things that you do. One day we will all die but until that time arrives, we all have to make the most out of it. And Clock is Ticking – relentlessly, incessantly.
Now back to Erae. It’s good to have a positive outlook on life in general – having a big smile even when talking about death and hereafter. I read a book by famous author Jonathan Haidt – The Happiness Hypothesis – couple of years back where he wrote about usage of adversity. How sometimes adversities can be the greatest of teachers. Although broken rives, or a broken leg cannot be an ideal solution for learning, but if someone can take it as such, I would say it’s a great gift to have such an outlook on life – making the most out of it when we are still alive.

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