Every day, I use BMTC bus to reach office. A 40 minutes travel. Being around people whom you know not, is always an advantage. Either you can strike a conversation with the person sitting next to you and learn something out of it or you can silently observe them and learn – when in public, what to do and what not to, how to behave and how not to, their qualities/attitudes through their deeds. All of them silently impart a valuable lesson.

Today I sat next to a senior citizen who was reading The Hindu newspaper. I guess ‘engrossed’ is the right word here. He carefully turned the pages, neatly folded it – all pages in line and continued reading. After some time, he took a pen out and underlined few words. I was taken aback because I am used to people reading papers but not this! Many may do it but, personally, I haven’t seen one yet. I thought he was marking the words for which he didn’t know the meaning. Since I had WordWeb dictionary app installed in my mobile, I wanted to use it and help him understand that article better and then carry on with the other.

I asked him, ‘Uncle, are you underlining the words that are new to you? Want to know the meaning? I have a dictionary that can help you’.

He replied, ‘Thanks for asking, I know the meaning but haven’t used them much in daily conversations. So, I often tend to forget. By underlining such terms and usages, I give them special attention. Later, I write them in my notebook along with an example sentence. It is my habit to read the notebook, every day morning, from its start. I try to use them in daily conversation as and when they are relevant and possible. This is how I learn new languages and improve my skills.’

Wondering at him, I replied, ‘Great idea! I will try to follow it!’

Then, he continued, ‘Good. By giving special attention, you separate them from the usual and well known. You make them exclusive and easy to recognize. Same applies to life as well. You want to get better at or achieve something, focus your attention towards it and work on it every day!! You will accomplish whatever you want to, one day!’

He smiled and got off the bus in the next stop. A casual conversation ended up teaching me a valuable lesson!

How magical it is to hear the universe speaking to you – through a conversation, an action and its reaction; through the people, a newspaper headline, an advertisement board. If only we are awake and recognize its voice!