A Kenneth Chapter In My Life’s Story from New York City

“I meet people and they become chapters in my stories.” ― Avijeet Das

That bright afternoon after having a good presentation and discussion at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, feeling all fulfilled and happy, I decided to take a walk to the Bank of America to complete some transactions in person and enjoy the amazing weather. 

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After a good presentation at the UN

Walking out of this inspiring building towards the intersection between 1st and 2nd avenue I couldn’t help but smile at all the people taking pictures of the UN building and the others sitting on the benches outside the building waiting for their turn to go in as tourists. 

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The view Kenneth and I shared

Out of all these people, I noticed an older man, probably in his seventies sitting on one of those benches over looking the Trump Tower with a great view of the 1st and 2nd avenue. He was well covered in his jacket and scarf. I was drawn to him because he happened to be dressed differently. The weather was really good! It was summer, the sun was shining so bright and beautifully and I didn’t even have a jacket on let alone a scarf, half of the people around were in shorts or t-shirts of some sorts so why was he well covered? I probably would have been wearing shorts myself had it not been for work. If only I could make a presentation at the United Nations in shorts! Ha!!  –I had to put on a black trousers and jacket for my presentation so I obliged 🙂

I approached him and asked “hello, do you mind if I sit next to you?” 

He replied, “I want to be a lone, but with your smile and the fact that you approached me so confidently please have a sit” 

I sat down and asked why he was well covered given this beautiful weather.

He took his time, smiled at me and replied “I have come to the end of what I will describe as an exciting life of privilege and wealth but everything has an expiration date and mine may pretty well draw near soon enough”

Realising this question was about to make the man sad, I quickly replied, “ sorry to have asked. ‘

He replied” No need to be sorry young lady. No need. I believe we were meant to have an encounter so ask all you want to ask”

I asked the question I always try to ask to learn from the experiences of others as I globe-trot,

“What life lesson would you want to share with me today? I would love to learn from your experience rather than have to experience it myself”

I will never forget his reply.

He replied, ‘What I have come to realise is that the world and life has been structured in a way that one will always come first at the expense of another. Not to look down on any one but the rich, the powerful and the privileged will do anything possible to maintain their position therefore, It is up to you to make sure you re-write the story for yourself.”

He went on to tell me a long history of England, and Europe in the context of Africa and how he has watched as Africa gallantly strode behind the rest of the world no matter the years that passed. He said, the only way Africa can make a difference is to re-write our story. hmmmm…. That was deep and I will love to hear your thoughts on that. 

I later had a more personal conversation with him about his mistakes and other regrets in life. This I can’t write about as I promised to keep his personal story and his picture between us.

He did however tell me what he observed about me within that hour of conversation. He said, “Lady you have got emotion and that will take you far. You will do well” He continued to advise me to keep doing things to please my inner self because what matters most is what others do not see.

“Travel is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends.  You are constantly off balance.  Nothing is yours except the essential things- air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky- all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”

-Cesare Pavese-

Travel offered me the opportunity to meet Kenneth in his last days and have a healthy conversation without talking about his illness. Travel gave me a Kenneth chapter in my story. What are the chances that I would have met Kenneth in this life time out of over 7 billion people? Why not find out by taking a trip to a place you have never been and possibly take a step to approach a stranger and start a conversation. Just take a step

If you decide to take a trip to New York;

  1. Do visit the central park and enjoy some quality air and great skyline

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2. Go to Timesquare, watch a show on broadway, and just roam the streets to get lost, meet new people and have conversations. What are the chances of meeting that person and in that city? take the opportunity. Enjoy the skylines while at it.

 

3. Buy a city Tour ticket and definitely go to Rockefeller centre, empire state building and Metropolitan Museum

4. Get some good Asian food if you are a fan! New York gives you a variety of Indian, Thai, Chinese and Japanese dishes! Have a feast because some of the best cities I have found good Asian is New York and Geneva. Who know maybe because they both have the UN headquarters :). I had dumplings everyday ha!

 

To travel is to change the setting and characters of a chapter of your life story            – Doris Edem Agbevivi 

Why not take a trip this December, meet a stranger and create that chapter in your life story!

 

Till I come your way again .......The girl who travels to tell stories

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