Despite having spent so much time in London, I still sometimes get lost here. Yesterday, after mixing up the Brompton and Old Brompton Roads (I think), I ended up turned around and walking in circles for 20 minutes. But it’s never stressful to be lost here because I always run into an Underground Station sooner or later, and of course I can speak the language. But life isn’t always so easy. During my brief disorientation yesterday, I recalled a time when I was lost in a big city with no such advantages.
I was in Hyderabad doing some work with orphaned children. The day started with great excitement because our programme was going to be profiled in Life Magazine, which at the time was extraordinarily popular and would therefore bring in the publicity we needed to secure donations. Even better news was that the reporter was Akbar Rhee, an extraordinarily talented and kind man. I had seen him interact with children before — he had a special sweetness to which the young responded — and I knew that as a soft touch for little ones he would write a very positive story.
I went to meet him at what I thought was the appropriate place and he wasn’t there. I then became concerned that I was at the wrong location and walked a bit to orient myself, becoming completely lost in the process. Every turn seemed to lead to another crowded and confusing intersection. Most of the people I asked for help did not speak English, and those that did gave complex and unhelpful directions.
I was increasingly hot, thirsty, distressed and confused. I wondered if I would ever find my way back to my hotel, much less enjoy the chance of conversation with a kindly and influential journalist. Just when I was at the edge of complete despair, I turned a corner and there he was standing right in front of me, smiling with all the considerable warmth of which he was capable!
So naturally I said:
“Sweet Mr. Rhee of Life at Last I’ve Found Thee!!!!”
Yeah, yeah, horrible, I know, but I never signed the Geneva Convention articles that covered puns.
As a reward for those who survived the punchline, here is a lovely rendering of the song: