Small World. Really Small.

Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.” That’s the wikipedia-introduction to the proven concept of our known world being a damn small place.

Tonight I went to a hot yoga class after work, and decided to take the mrt home. Still sweating, and mentally exhausted after a long day at work filled with meetings after meetings, I glimpsed a guy in the same cart as me, who looked familiar. That I “see” old friends and acquaintances in random places is nothing new. I’ve explained it to myself being a cause of me having moved so often, not feeling rooted anywhere, always making new friends but not having anyone around for a very long time.

This time, I thought it was just my exhaustion from work and yoga. But the guy looked so very much like an old friend from my younger years…at home I did what is done nowadays. Looked him up in Facebook. He wasn’t among my friends – that’s how long it has been since we’ve last been connected. I sent him a friend request with the very random message of asking if it could have been possible to just have seen him in a mrt in Singapore, against all odds. And true it was. It wasn’t the sweat dropping to my eyes or my tired brain playing tricks this time.

It’s a small world. This is but one reminder. Typically what happens is I meet people with whom we have odd common friends with or have happened to live in another country at the same time. When I was living in Berlin, I got in touch with an old friend from Texas – who was living in Leipzig, and had been living there already at the same time as me before. We had quite likely spent time in same bars and perhaps our paths had crossed in the university, but never recognized each other. In Thailand, a friend from Germany run into me in one of my favorite bars. Recently on my weekend trip to Bangkok I pumped into 2 of my close friends from HCMC – at 1 am on a side soi to Sukhumvit, on my way from a bar to the hotel. A colleague from Thailand, later moved to Egypt and became colleagues with an ex-colleague of mine from Berlin.

World has become very small. Thanks to Facebook especially, it’s easier than ever to track connections as well. When making a new friend, it’s fun to check through if we have any random mutual friends. Quite commonly there are – which wouldn’t be odd between 2 people who have been living in the same neighborhood for long times. But in my life, where neighborhoods keep changing at a speed that even good friends struggle to remember in which country I live in, it is. Odd, random and fun.

I do believe in the six degrees of separation theory – not just because it’s been scientifically proven but because I’m living that theory. My life is filled with random encounters with strangers whom I have friends or old homes in common with and even more random reunions with old friends. Too bad I didn’t react to recognizing the guy in the mrt faster, but at least we ended up re-connecting in Facebook and had a good chat. Fortunately I did not have my eyes focused on my iphone as pretty much everyone else in the mrt, but had my eyes up. A good reminder how our real lives are happening not on the screens of the smartphones but around us. Better keep the eyes open, never know who you might see or meet!