101 Days, 101 Strangers, 101 Stories: Day 34

Today was a meet-a-stranger-in-the-elevator kind of day.

In our 5-floor elevator ride together, he told me he’d just been playing football. I asked which kind, flailing my arm and then kicking my foot, realizing only afterward how ridiculous I must have looked. It was the latter — the foot kind of football.

His name is Nishant and he’s lovely. When I told him about my project he was willing to be my stranger and suggested we sit outside to chat. We found a nice bench in the shade and he shared a bit of his light and wisdom with me.

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He’s a masters student studying computer and electrical engineering at UBC. He’s working toward screening for cancer, specifically breast and testicular cancers. He uses coding technologies and techniques to develop methods for testing and screening. It’s really valuable, important work. And he really enjoys it.

This week, he’s defending his thesis. I asked him if he was nervous. “No, not really. I’ve been working on this for two years. I know it well. I’ve had a lot of help along the way. Plus, being nervous wouldn’t do me any good.” His presented his confidence in a refreshingly down-to-Earth kind of way.

He’s from India, but not the busy, hot, polluted India we’re so quick to envision. Rather, he’s from Mussoorie — a hill station with a nice, calm, natural environment. His family lives there and he misses it. But he loves Vancouver and living on his own, too. He first moved from Mussoorie to the US for five years while he was working on his undergraduate degree. Since then, he’s been in Vancouver.

His advice? Spend time finding what you love. And then really commit to doing what you love. “Doing anything else would be a waste of time”, he said.

My project reminded him of a musician he recently discovered. He showed me the beautiful music video. The artist, Yadam, sings in Spanish, and even though Nishant doesn’t understand the lyrics, he understands the weight and magic of the stories being portrayed. Nishant loved the music so much that he contacted the singer directly after not being able to find it on iTunes. Yadam gladly e-mailed him a link directly. Cool, right? Who knew you could do that. Here’s the video:

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