Letters from Minnesota

Wednesday, 11th October 2017

By Deepka Ratra

I’ve always thought about the possibility of human beings being connected in some way, perhaps to the entire universe, too. These desires have been studied to go back to our strong, animalistic instincts; a very biological response to our basic needs for companionship and community. As an adult, although I understand that we’re not quite physically connected, sometimes it seems silly not to entertain the idea of another connection. I guess this is what people call spirituality, or religion.

I’m sitting on a train riding across the Central Coast of New South Wales, reading through an email I received a few weeks ago. A stranger from the other side of the world wrote a very heartfelt email, and so it reminded me of this connection. I felt so strongly that I had to write about it, and shortly after found this quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: “Invisible threads are the strongest ties.” It seems to be one of the truest and most inevitable things amongst us: The ties between a man and a lady who just dropped her shopping bags, between a teenager and her favourite actress, between a social worker and his patient, between a mother and her child, between two lovers across oceans, between a man and his religion.

This compassion and love extends to both close relations and strangers throughout the world, instigated by our biology, consciousness and emotion. It's something we can't fight, and yet we continue to battle against it in a world full of terrorism, corruption, and frankly, a bunch of idiots.

Here is the email I received:

Hi Deepka,

The first time I tried your chai I was working in energy policy, never checked my bank account, and was practicing my Urdu and Punjabi to impress the woman I thought would be my mother in law. The election here in the United States this past year blew up my career and ended my relationship. I decided to wipe out my savings to pay to go back to school. Nowadays, I am struggling to make ends meet and secretly between you and me my heart is more than a little broken. I always enjoyed listening to my ex sing along with the classic greats like Lata ji & Md. Rafi, but now the lyrics mean more than I ever wanted them to. All this leads to now:

It's the start of fall here in Minnesota. Procrastinating on my homework, I'm watching the leaves fall outside my window, listening to a distant church bell toll, and smelling and savoring the last dregs of my chai sample. I'm counting down to pay day when I can buy those adorable tins that I rave about to everyone that will listen!

We're complete strangers, but I am over here on the other side of the world rooting for you and so excited for you and your dream!! As Beyonce says, "Who runs the world? Girls!”.

Congrats on rolling out Deepka Chai! Can't wait to get my order in.

Thank you for your past kindness and hope you have a wonderful rest of the week.

A big fan,

While it’s tempting to take this blog in the direction of covfefe and what-not, that’s not what I’m here for. It’s the human connection that I’m here for. This woman is going through a tough time, but decides to courageously battle on anyway. As Maya Angelou said: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."

We will never know everything, but we will know something new everyday. Living in a political, social media, ego-heavy world, the best we can do is learn from today, and spread the good as well as we can. Of course, I'm guilty of forgetting about these things as well, so it’s reminders like this email that bring me back on track, back to the journey towards human connection, as I hope it will for you. With that, I will leave you with one last quote:

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibres connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibres, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.

Herman Melville

In the end, we are all the same, looking for the same thing, are we not?