Tale of an adventure - meeting Everyday people wherever they are

100 Strangers, 100 Personalities, 100 Stories

welcome to yet another episode

Photos taken: September 05, 2022

Published: September 16, 2022

It was the “official” beginning of Spring in Australia – early September. Although it is still somewhat chilling, the biting cold of winter is now mostly over. It was wonderfully bright and shiny earlier during the day and I was rather ready to get lost into the midst of some craze and adventure! With the service disruptions due to industrial action still being continued however, and after sorting out my existing works, by the time I was able to go out it was somewhat late in the afternoon. With some not-so-distant memories and an amazing encounter, on the other hand, I made rather the most out of it.

Although the days are getting bigger, the nice shiny sunlight was still getting dimmer rather early. Just one hour into my cruising around Hyde Park (Sydney CBD), the evening rush hours of people heading home after a long day of work has already started. They are rushing at the best of their abilities to be reunited with their loved ones.

Stranger #17 - Morgan

I was about to wrap up for the day after a few approaches. People are on a hurry, so it was difficult to stop them. After walking down College St and roaming around the cathedral area I came to where the intersection is – next to William St. This was the intersection I have some memories about. Some three years back I was there too on another fateful day on the other side of that intersection next to Hyde Park. As I was leaning against the footpath barriers on that fateful afternoon, Morgan was passing by. Stranger #17.

When I remember that day, I get some mixed feelings – some embarrassment along with some inspiration, no doubt. That day, I had to gather all the courage to stop a random stranger for a photo after a pause from photography of nearly half a decade! That interaction lasted for about two minutes, that memory, however, still does – some three years later. 

Some memories are hard to forget no matter how short spanned that are. Every time I stand at that intersection, for instance, somehow – even after three years – I still remember her big smile. She was my only stranger in the last six years. From 2013 to 2019 however, my memories just go blank – the pages are all empty – all of them.

Then 2020 came along. The dreaded covid lockdowns getting us confined into the four walls took the toll once more on my project. Approaching strangers was scary. I even got scared of the people I knew for a long time – from my neighbors to my local grocery store employees to even my household members! I was scared to talk to them, to get close to them, to say “hi” or to embrace them into my arms with a big hug! Fast forward 2022 and I am finally on the steering wheel.

I started talking to random people at the busiest intersections. Thousands of people were watching me as I was approaching strangers at the entrance to townhall station, at Westfields, at Hyde Park, at bus stops, at trains stops. All the corners of Sydney CBD along its length and breadth I was there – at every corner, one day or the other. My journey to get strangers went up – from eighteenth (18th) back in January, now I am at fifty-first (51st) by September.

It could be much more had I been not so picky – if I were just after a photo of two minutes perhaps, I would be well over a hundred by now.

Surely, some sweet memories to recollect, I guess. I have been living in Australia for some time now and the highlight of this staying is surely meeting with random people – people I would have never bothered otherwise had it not been for this project. But the bright side is, although I already had a lot of fun along the way, I am still not done yet – not just yet.

So, what changed? When I was a child, my mom wanted me to be a doctor. But I hated biology. I scored lowest in that subject in my year twelve (12). Later, I studied computer science. I liked it – it was a fashion to study IT back in my country back then. It was one of those very few subjects for which there were lots of craze – bright future of getting high paid jobs, transferrable skills to work with globally recognized companies, travelling overseas on business trainings – to name a few! Among all the subjects that I was eyeing on as a “Freshie”, learning sales, however, was probably the last one.

To my embarrassment, today I must admit I didn’t like the profession of selling back in those days. But looking at what I have done, have I become one of those typical “salesmen” in just about eight (8) months?  An introverted geek glued to the computer screen for his entire life taking up the profession of “selling” in less than a year approaching and talking to random people in pretty much every single day to day situations! Has anything changed yet?! The testimony is my past that I can hardly deny.

Approaching random people was daunting. While I was taking photos of (Stranger #25) Tessa, for instance, I was scared – very much – even to say “hello”. Now that scared little man has learned to have some fun with random strangers in a short while! I ask myself: has anything changed yet?!

Three feet from the gold

I read a book couple of years back by famous author Napoleon Hill. In that legendry book “Think and grow rich” he described a story – a story of a junk man making millions while Darby – the entrepreneur – learning a lesson about life by losing those millions that he could have made. It is a story of why some people succeed while many others fail. Here is in its entirety.

One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat.  Every person is guilty of this mistake at one time or another. An uncle of R. U. Darby was caught by the “gold fever” in the gold-rush days, and went west to DIG AND GROW RICH. He had never heard that more gold has been mined from the brains of men than has ever been taken from the earth.

He staked a claim and went to work with pick and shovel. The going was hard, but his lust for gold was definite. After weeks of labor, he was rewarded by the discovery of the shining ore. He needed machinery to bring the ore to the surface.

Quietly, he covered up the mine, retraced his footsteps to his home in Williamsburg, Maryland, told his relatives and a few neighbors of the “strike.” They got together money for the needed machinery, had it shipped. The uncle and Darby went back to work the mine. The first car of ore was mined, and shipped to a smelter. The returns proved they had one of the richest mines in Colorado! A few more cars of that ore would clear the debts. Then would come the big killing in profits.

Down went the drills! Up went the hopes of Darby and Uncle! Then something happened! The vein of gold ore disappeared! They had come to the end of the rainbow, and the pot of gold was no longer there! They drilled on, desperately trying to pick up the vein again—all to no avail.

Finally, they decided to QUIT.

They sold the machinery to a junk man for a few hundred dollars, and took the train back home. Some “junk” men are dumb, but not this one! He called in a mining engineer to look at the mine and do a little calculating. The engineer advised that the project had failed, because the owners were not familiar with “fault lines.” His calculations showed that the vein would be found …


The “Junk” man took millions of dollars in ore from the mine, because he knew enough to seek expert counsel before giving up. Most of the money which went into the machinery was procured through the efforts of R. U. Darby, who was then a very young man. The money came from his relatives and neighbors, because of their faith in him. He paid back every dollar of it, although he was years in doing so.

Long afterward, Mr. Darby recouped his loss many times over, when he made the discovery that DESIRE can be transmuted into gold. The discovery came after he went into the business of selling life insurance.

Remembering that he lost a huge fortune, because he STOPPED three feet from gold, Darby profited by the experience in his chosen work, by the simple method of saying to himself, “I stopped three feet from gold, but I will never stop because men say ‘no’ when I ask them to buy insurance.”

I feel fortunate enough today to have read that book before coming back to my project after such a long time. When I face those challenges – the fear of the unknown, the rejections and the “Sorry Nos” – I take inspiration from the earlier episodes and just keep going. Although what I am doing is more of “networking” rather than “sales” so to speak, getting “yes” from unknown people and being steadfast in the face of rejections are the very basics of typical selling. So, is learning “sales” changed me? Well, I think it did – massively. I am halfway through and the two lessons that I found rather immensely valuable in my little venture are these: getting out of the comfort zone and of course, never stopping from three feet from the gold! I hope to learn more as I progress but these two are life changers for me – without a shadow of doubt!

As she was approaching the intersection I was standing by, I was vaguely thinking of making an approach but didn’t make an attempt. Since she was wearing a business suit, I knew by the looks of it that she would definitely be one of those home–coming white–color career woman rushing to catch the service disrupted trains! Previously I approached busy people while they were on their way to work or having a lunch during break. Those were very brief interactions and as such I was a bit reluctant. But then luckily the signal turned red. And she had no choice but to stand in that signal and as such immediately my strangers’ approach autopilot got active, and I started walking towards her and in no time, I am now next to. Since she was not wearing headphones, it was rather easy for me to get her attention: “Hey, can I take a photo of yours? It’s for a project.”

As she enquired about the project, I showed her the details as well as my blog and she responded by saying: “I am actually a model”. Later she showed me her Instagram page and I got to see many of her photos with different types of postures and clothing.

Grunge fashion – I believe, she mentioned while scrolling through some of her photos. I haven’t been to Newtown so far for this project, but as I wanted to know about some of the locations, she mentioned of trying my project over there as well – the graffities, the colorful walls and characters themselves would surely be an episode of some fun and craze, I thought!

So, here is Jay growing up in the (Sutherland) shires (near Cronulla) now working at the city, who also does modelling.

Since we have been talking about clothing and fashion, I was reminded of another recent encounter whom I met several months back at Myers. When I mentioned that she looked somewhat Greek and as I wanted to know if she had Greek ancestry she replied however, that she wasn’t. After taking a few photos, I wanted her to take those glasses off and as she did during the shoot, I made observation that she might be Swedish – of European descent!

“You look like”… “ahh”… “kind of Swedish”

“That’s the other one I was getting” – she replied immediately!

This was my third attempt in getting busy people on board. Previously I approached them as they were rushing to work or was on their breaks. What was rather interesting in this case, however, at the first sight was her black business suit and her carrying along a bottle of coke.

“Do you drink a lot of coke?” – pointing at the coke bottle I remarked

“Nah I drink a lot of V(odka) though” – she replied nonchalantly.

I am not a huge fan of drinking, nor that I ever was. I used to drink occasionally and still do. On a winter evening a cup of green tea in lukewarm water mixed with couple of shots of whisky – that’s all I can afford. Green tea doesn’t have much flavor of its own – its smell is very mild which worked for me with the strong aroma of the charred woods, or of somewhat sweet, grassy and fruity smell that is typical of whiskies.

Her cellphone started ringing and she had to go. It was very brief encounter, but we had some fun memories together nonetheless and like it happened many times in the past, I take this day as yet another addition to draw inspiration for upcoming sessions and challenges in my venture to master one of the oldest arts of human experience – networking or should I say “selling”!

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