I very distinctly remember that midnight sometime in
March 1991 when Anita, my wife, and I were waiting at the Underground
station at Wimbledon Park, London for the tube to arrive. It was cold
and foggy and there was a certain bite in the wind. We were with our
Yugoslavian friend, Ingrid Druzeta. She had come over to our home for
dinner as I was shortly leaving London for Delhi for good.
As the last train was taking interminably long to arrive, I remember
hugging Ingrid and telling her, “Do you realise this could be
the last time we would be seeing each other?"
I came back to India, got back my advertising job and got busy. Over
time, Yugoslavia got dismembered and split into nations. Ingrid wrote
intermittently for a couple of years, telling us how the recession in
UK had not improved and things back home were fraught with danger. She
was a postgraduate in Sociology, had a warm, ethereal look and a touching
innocence about her. There was something so genuine in her persona.
I remember when I landed up in London in 1990, it was to her studio
apartment at Holland Park Anita took me before we moved to Wimbledon
Park. Ingrid was staying at a Spanish friend’s apartment, learning
English and working as a waitress at a hotel. In my spare time, I used
to help her with her English and we became close.
Her letters stopped coming after 1993 and we lost touch for almost 10
years. I searched for her on the Internet quite often. I would check
the myriad web directories about people but my hunt for her email address
proved futile. Occasionally I logged on to Croatian chat rooms and asked
people if they had heard about her. Only once in the last 10 years,
we received a letter from her in which she said that she was at Florida
and would write more with details but that letter never came.
Last month, my wife excitedly called me at work and said she finally
got a reference of Ingrid Druzeta at a random Google search. I then
went on the web and located a picture of hers at a party. To cut the
long story short, we wrote to the email address of the organisation
requesting them to help locate Ingrid. It was truly fortuitous that
our search yielded result. Three wonderful people, Monika Lentze, Dyan
Campbell and Rayna Zembala at PrasadProject.org in New York, exchanged
emails between them and finally managed to find Ingrid at a Manhattan
They also forwarded our email to her and she wrote back. She had lost
her diary that had our address. She is now a professional flower decorator
and designs flower arrangements at big parties. She is happy, still
single and retains her idealism.
And thanks to the Internet, we are still together.
(14th April 2003)