Tale of an adventure - meeting Everyday people wherever they are

100 Strangers, 100 Personalities, 100 Stories

welcome to yet another episode

Published: June 24, 2022

It was a wonderful day today (June 17th, 2022) although was a bit cloudy ⛅️ earlier in the morning. But later, the sky became clearer, and daylight was steady. There was no chilling breeze today and with the comforting warmth of the sunshine I am ready to liven up my passion. 

In this episode of my journey by train to CBD, occupying my backseat was a delight, and the warmth of the sunlight was also a delight. Unlike the day before I was rather awake, refreshed and charged up. However today, I had a backlog and had to finish the write up. With the compartment rather empty, my sunbathed backseat was the perfect setting to concentrate. And as such, I wrote two paragraphs or so when it was finally time to get off.

I keep noticing that I have been getting off at the same stop – St James – over the past few days. Hyde Park is close by, Westfields is also close by – or am I just getting used to it? One of the key lessons I learnt from this project so far is to get out of my comfort zone. Although it may sound contradictory, however, my understating is comfort zone is a very dangerous zone. It kills creativity, it kills productivity.


Let me explain. The first photo I took for this project was back on February 10, 2012. Lamisa. She was a fashion model. I had lots of photographer-friends back then with whom I would hang around and go to different places and get introduced to others with the same interest. Then one day it all fell apart – I relocated. Then another day I started to feel some responsibility, some guilt – ten (10) years gone by, and I haven’t been able to finish what I started. What can I do? The solution was there – right in front of my eyes – learning to get the hell out of my comfort zone! Although it took time – ten (10) year, no less – yet luckily, I still decided to go against my comforting feelings; better late than never – I tried to rationalize.

It was 17th of January 2022; I was finally out and about for only one reason – one purpose only – to bring this project to a finish. I went to George St and in front of thousands of people, I approached strangers – “hello”, “hi”, “five seconds?”! My heart was pounding inside although I was faking a smile outside! Kiah joined that day! Stranger #18. I approached her while she was eating her lunch sitting on a bench. I felt awkward doing it, but she joined with a smile and a conversation of some fifteen minutes or so. Don’t know what I talked about. I just nodded here and there and slipped in some random things; keep talking – don’t stop – I forced myself with all its discomfort! Although I was feeling nervous, I felt like she was at ease. If you’re reading this Kiah, I just want to say thank you! Thank you so much for being part of my journey on that very day – the day I will perhaps remember for a long time!

When I shot Lamisa – my first stranger some ten years ago – it wasn’t even an approach. I was introduced to her by my friends. From eighteenth, six months on, I am now at number fourth eight. Something changed. I can feel it – in my bones!

I went to Westfields in about five or so minutes from the station. Few days back, I was roaming around the beauty section at Myers where different types of perfumes are sold. However, today I went to the building adjacent – The Strand, I believe. There are lots of eateries here and there around that area.

Consequently, while I was walking inside that hallway, I could smell some very sweet aroma – of the freshly baked cookies 🍪, the scented candles, chocolates 🍫, and of course, of the roasted coffee beans – delightful, mouth-watering, sensational.

Further down however, I noticed that hat shop – Australian born and bred. “Akubra” “It’s Australian made” – pointing at one of the hats the smiling sales rep started explaining the heritage of the shop with excitement in his voice along with his native Australian English. I was there for a few minutes.

Then I took a U-turn and went back to where I was – near Pitt Street mall across Myers – minutes earlier. As I was walking inside, there was this escalator next to the reception desk that goes down. There are some eateries too along with some retailers; at the lower ground level, I believe. It was one of those retailers – General Pants and Co – where I would meet my next stranger! She was checking merchandise and I was right next to and that’s all I needed to get started.

After the approach and sharing of the details of the project, we walked out of Westfields and headed for Hyde Park. Finding a suitable place, as I started taking her photos I noticed her baby–like face as I was looking closely at her through the mechanical display of my camera.

“You seem like you’re very chill.” …

“I like to be more open and stuff” – she started laughing

So, here is Anna Duong who was visiting Sydney from Melbourne for her visa issues to travel overseas to the US. “Like a walking tourist” she has been exploring Sydney by herself for the last four days and today was her shopping day as she pointed out later and was here to do some shopping for her siblings.

“I have an older brother and two sisters” – she went on

“You guys fight a lot?” … “You should.”– I replied adding some sarcasm.

(My youngest) “Sister is very little 10 years apart” – she remarked. 

As this continued, we talked about her exciting trip to the US as softball couch (I guess), her fascination for “marble movies … Oldest superheros … Captain America” and her longing for Chris Evans!

 “I liked him when he was younger.” – she mentioned with some fantasy in the air!

“Now he is older, so you don’t like him anymore…” – my jabbing continued.

Although she likes her own company, she was however, quick to mention – slyly – with some shyness:

“I always wanted to be with somebody… I guess.”!

(“Who would ever figure that out!” – I silently thought!)

As I was taking her photos and zoomed in to see some details during playback, I noticed her rings.

“You got lots of rings” … “Is that a Chinese one?” – I remarked pointing to the one with that flowery symbol.

“I love jewelry” – she exclaimed.

“Do you have tattoos too? Where are your tattoos?” – I was curious.

“I wanna get a spider.” – she added.

“Do you get scared of the spider at home?” … “Would your parents be okay if you get a giant spider on your arm?” – my sarcasm continued.

“You know … like… they are so cool”! – she added. Needless to say, I could see some blushing on her face too.

We all have fantasies. Fantasies about others, about different experiences we may wish to have, about money, about power, about cars, dresses, and the list goes on and on!

“If you’re granted a wish what will that be?” – my nosy question went on!

“What I am missing right now is money” … “I want more financial freedom”

When I was a child in the village that I grew up, there were very few options for entertainment. DVD, CV, Base, Guitar or any of those items were completely out of question. We had a TV at home – black and white. 17- or 18-inches display – I believe; can’t remember its dimensions anymore. So, on a particular day there used to be a serial drama being broadcasted – Arabian nights. Now, since electricity was a rare commodity in a rural village some twenty-five (25) years ago, sometimes it happened that during that night – the night when the drama serial will be broadcasted – there was a blackout – no supply of electricity! And when that happened, that night would surely become a rural nightmare! Well, at least for us – the kids. Many of my friends would even cry – it was a super emotional affair!

Now, in that series there was the guy called Aladdin. And by now, I suppose you are all too familiar with his magic lamp. So, I will not bore you with details of how that lamp looks but I if see Aladdin next time I will definitely tell him to give a good rub to his lamp, so the gunnie pops out and make my stranger very, very rich!

As the discussion went on, we stumbled upon religion. Now, religion is one of my personal favorites besides photography. I love to read about it and lecture about it too – bad habit (I guess).

Previously, I had a few encounters where I came about the same subject but didn’t quite get into lecturing or preaching. Today, however, I did a bit of both.

She asked: “What you think like happens after death?”

“Ohh that’s a very dangerous question.” – I throw in some gloom as I started replying …

“If I tell you about my religion” … “you reincarnate, you come back” … “there is no death” 

“One of the verses of” … “have you read” … “okay you haven’t read obviously” …”Vagabath Gita like I am a Hindu” … “says you existed for eternity … you existed not just now you existed for eternity that you are going through a cycle of life and death and that’s how you are becoming like you have a different form”… (pointing to the tree) “this tree has a different form but other than that there is nothing else happening”

“Yeah, it’s also quiet frightening as well like religious ideas when you go deeper when you take a deep dive they can really” … “because we are doing all the innovation” … “different types of researches that are taking place is to make our life better” … “but if you existed for eternity…then you know… like… it doesn’t…” – I faltered.

“What is it for??” – she added.

“Yeah …What is it for … but the question is, is it true??”

Religion has been a subject of contentious debate over centuries. In the name of religion people have done – are still doing – terrible things. Civilizations have been destroyed; billions have been brutalized. It has shaped our history – our heritage – our DNA! Religion has played a significant role in our life and perhaps will play such a role in coming days. And when doing a little bit of digging about the major religions I came across some ideas that got me shaken.

My religious ideas have been shaped by the prominent Indian philosopher Swami Vivekananda who preached about Advaita philosophy – philosophy of oneness.

It’s somehow shocking though, that such philosophies have never been discussed in public discourse – even on intellectual level. Few days back I posted a rant in response to one of the comments I received in one of my videos.

A word of warning though – I must point out however, that it might be disturbing and even upsetting too, to many to have their beliefs shaken. So, please use your own discretion, consider your emotional state, or check with someone to confirm if you are actually ready for such a discussion – should you decide to go through.

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