Every time there is an India - Pakistan standoff, my mind goes back to that evening in Dubai.
This was many years back, much before 9/11 and 26/11. I was on a visit to Dubai and and my return flight was at midnight. Having finished the mandatory sight seeing and having checked out of my hotel room, I sat down on a road side bench to watch the Dubai traffic whizz by.
Some time passed and the Sun was beginning to set, when I heard some one ask me in Hindi - "Are you ok?" Turning around, I saw a complete stranger, who I thought was an Indian, looking concernedly at me. "Oh! I am fine" I said, clearly not wanting to talk to a stranger... "You are looking tired. Did you come for a job interview? Did you not get the job? Do you need any help"? The sincerity and concern in his voice made me pay attention this time. "I came for a meeting and now I am killing time, as my flight is much later", I opened up.
"I have been watching you for a while and was concerned. So, I waited to get off duty to talk to you" he confessed. Turns out that he was a delivery boy at the Subway in front of which I was sitting. "Where in India are you from"?, I asked, warming up to him. "I am from Pakistan" came the matter of fact reply. Sensing the confusion in my eyes, he went on to explain - "Out here, everyone sees Indians and Pakistanis as one. And we also tend to be together and to look out for each other. Its only when India and Pakistan are playing cricket that we are on opposite sides. Otherwise we are one, We share our joys and sorrows".
"Out here", he said, "we look out for each other, because no one else will".
And there we sat for a few minutes, before he went his way and I mine, silently enjoying each others company, and the warmth of belonging.
As we went our different ways, neither asked the other for a name. We did not need to. On that roadside, both of us shared a kinship which cannot be described. The warm feeling that comes from knowing that there was some one in this far away land who cares for you just cannot be described.
Back home we would most likely be baying for each others blood. But on that foreign land, he was all concern for my troubles, going out of his way to reach out and help. A Pakistani reaching out to help, only because I was an Indian!
So, every time there is an India-Pakistan stand off, my mind goes back to that evening and the roadside garden seat in far away Dubai; I see a concerned Pakistani stranger enquiring about an Indian's well being. I remember his words that day, that Indians and Pakistanis look out for each other in foreign lands, because no one else will. And every time, I wish that it were true, not just in foreign lands alone.
I know that it is too early, but I dream that that day will come.
And till then, in foreign lands, we Indians and Pakistanis will always be looking out for each other, we will be there for each other, as kin and brothers do, because no one else will.