Its quite strange why I think of Helga today. Her hair, the brightest shade of red, cut just below her ears, her English a struggle and her body, wobbly and white. We met her at Kaprun in Austria. We had just gone up to Kitzsteinhorn and got down dreary with the sun hitting the snow, that time of the year. It seemed almost impossible to believe the sun and the snow could be in such good camaraderie.
The boys were tired from all that snow rolling and throwing. As we looked around for a taxi, a woman came walking right up to us. She was old. Though, I dare not mention her so, after having spent two days driving around with her in that beautiful city. I must say, I was quite skeptical of her when Raf had already folded Zaaki’s stroller back and placed it in the boot of her car. Unfair, how we make such judgements about people.
After Kitzsteinhorn, as per plans we wanted to visit the Swarovski headquarters. As we always are, when on a holiday ( even otherwise),it already looked like we wouldn’t be able to make it there before they closed for the day. We are always so last minute that on a vacation we have often missed some of the most significant landmarks. I missed Nothredame in France the last time we were there. And now I’d never see it in its glory. Every time, I shamelessly put the blame on the hectic travel with children.Getting to Swarowksi would take two hours and it was also barely two hours to closing. Helka promised to manage. Every five minutes, I breathed a little more relief being in safe hands. Every few minutes my judgement put me to shame.
She was so excited with our skin tone. The red haired woman driving us was the most beautiful of tour guides, most beautiful of human beings we have ever come across. Not only did we reach on time. We even managed to stop along a waterfall on the way.It was as though it was more important to her that we get to see the beauty of her country.
Later that evening, she had butter chicken and rice with us at a restaurant in Zell am See. She was so amused at how trained our fingers were. Even the boys could gather little rice ball with their fingers. She tried to pick rice grains like we were doing and get it straight to her mouth without dropping them. She loved the food. Most of all, she loved our skin tone. She loved our noses. She loved our hair. We loved her more. She was such a bundle of delight.
The next day she drove us to Munich. A trip with the most amazing stories, most beautiful stop overs and the warmest bubble of belonging. Somewhere across the seas, we felt like we had always been part of her.
As she dropped us, she cried. And hugged. And cried. And hugged. In adieu, she said, ” I pray you have a black princess.” We laughed. And laughed some more.
” In India, that would not in the least be a prayer,” I laughed louder.
Somewhere far away, She lives alone in a house where she has just enough time for her sleep, a cup of coffee, and an occasional glass of wine on cold nights. She must be making such fond memories for people to tag along with them from Austria.
As I think of her today, I realize we come across so many like her who are part of our lives for a blink in time, give us such sights for a lifetime and disappear like they never existed.
This Day 7 of #31to31 – to all the Helgas in my 30 year old world. And the so many more to come.