One day while walking in the park I accidentally brushed past a man. "Sorry!" I said.

"Thank you!" he replied.

I walked on a little puzzled, wondering whether I'd heard right, and then slowed down waiting for him to pass, "Why did you say thank you?" I asked.

"Because you're the first person who's ever spoken to me in this park!" he said.

I heard a story about an older woman who stood in line at the Post Office. She struck up a conversation with a young man next to her. He noticed that she had no packages to mail, and asked why she was standing in line. She said that she just needed a few stamps.

"Ma'am, you must be tired standing here. Did you know there's a stamp machine over there in the corner?" He pointed to the machine built into the wall. "Why yes, thank you," the lady replied, "but I'll just wait here a little while longer. I'm getting close to the window."

The customer became insistent.

"But it would be so much easier for you to avoid this long line and buy your stamps from the machine."

The woman patted him on the arm and answered, "Oh, I know. But that old machine would never be concerned about me, and have a conversation like you are doing!”

She had a need greater than the need for postage stamps -- a need to feel connected to other people. And it was a need that could not be met by a stamp machine.

When my dad who lived in New York discovered he had prostate cancer and in quite an advanced stage, decided to come down to India, and spend his last days at my home, many asked him while either visiting at the hospital or at my home, why he’d wanted to leave a country where he could have got excellent treatment and which had advanced in the field of his cancer. “Because” he would say with a twinkle in his eye, as the person asking this question sat next to his bed holding his hand, “Nobody would have held my hand like you are doing, and spend time with me!”

A few of such caring people mean more than the best medical facilities in the world.

The man who I'd said sorry to, walked on ahead, I couldn't walk with him lest he saw my tears, big drops that filled my eyes. I waited till they'd dried and then caught up with him, I saw his eyes light up as he looked up at me, we walked together, I hope he didn't see fresh tears that refused to go away!

Are there people around we need to stretch out and touch?

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