I step into the Luas. It’s about 12.20 in the noon. As I make my way towards where I think I might find an empty seat, someone says ‘hello.’
I am taken aback. I am about two and half weeks old in the city and the country. We live in a service apartment and we really don’t have any friends who stay locally. I turn around and look straight into a fine, nice face. It takes a few seconds to register.
It’s the property development manager who had showed us a newly refurbished apartment in Stillorgan in the first week that we had landed in Dublin. We had expressed interest in the apartment and then fallen in love with another just across the road, and had written to him saying that we weren’t taking up the one he had shown us after all.
I remember him being witty and humourous when he was showing us the apartment. Of course, like it is the norm in Dublin, it was a group viewing and there were several others at our slot, but we had stayed behind as we had turned up late and he had offered to drop us home. We all had had a laugh because we had walked to the basement parking to take up his offer and he had realised that he had driven his colleague’s van to the viewing and it had no backseats!
So I said hello right back. Delighted that I was recognised and that there was someone in a brand new city that could say hello to me while I boarded the Luas. If you know me, you know that I love people. I love conversations. Every trip out of the house is like borrowing a book of short stories. I love little conversations – while you are waiting for the bus, when you are on the bus or the train, while you grocery shop, when you go apartment hunting and there’s a group viewing. Even when you are taking the lift and there’s someone else taking it too and you look at each other and say two sentences before the lift arrives at your apartment floor. It’s like sharing vignettes of life, those little conversations are just so perfect in themselves with their own unique beginning, middle and an end! Or perhaps it is just that I am chatty and I like to be chatted up!
But so from Sandyford to St Stephen Green we chatted non stop – about the car insurance costs in Dublin, about Indian restaurants and meals, Brexit and what happens next (or rather how nobody knows what happens next), about the Stamp 3 Association event that I was going to attend, about how some of the best Indian meals he ever had were while he lived in South Africa and had an Indian neighbour who invited him home.
We both got off at St Stephen’s Green and before he went off, he gave me the directions to Leinster House. And I said, I will send him an email. Once we move into our rented apartment and set up our kitchen, he could come and try out what a homemade Indian meal tastes like. Once again. This time in Dublin.
So here’s an ode to Dublin. It made me feel as if I could belong here, even if it was momentary. Because in that moment, when someone said hello to me on the Luas, it felt like I was in Baroda or Reading – where I had friends and family and it was not unusual to board the bus or the train or walk on the pavement and find a smiling, friendly and familiar face.