Seeking Ingrid

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 Ashram.
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)