Where Strangers Meet


When Samuel Becket was asked what ‘Waiting For Godot’ was about he replied ‘Symbiosis, its all about symbiosis’.


The stories in this collection are also about symbiosis.


I have been agonizing about the title for months. Should it be “Where” or “When Strangers Meet”? Both would be nice but that would be cumbersome. Where and When Strangers Meet. It would be accurate of course, for both a time and a place are needed for a meeting.


There is a wonderful Sufi tale about a Sultan who wishes to be wiser than he already is. He engages a Dervish, who has a great reputation for finding the right words at the right time and whose advice is always the right advice, to become his councillor, his Vizier.


The Sultan has the Dervish sit at his side and tells him that he may speak, without the Sultans bidding, any time he feels that he should.


But the Dervish does not speak. He sits in silence, peacefully enjoying the hospitality of the Sultan. Even when they meet with other important people and great debates break out he never opens his mouth. The Sultan begins to wonder why this is so.


Some weeks after the Dervish began to sit with the Sultan the rumours went round that there was a great singer staying in the city. The Sultan wished to hear his songs and so he sent an ambassador to speak with the singer asking him to come to the palace.


The singer refused, saying that his art could not just be summoned by anyone when they demanded. He must feel like singing. The time and the place must be right.


The when and where.


As soon as the Sultans anger had subsided he became curious and he decided to visit the singer himself and so with the Dervish, as always, by his side he travelled to the house of the singer. Only to be told, by a servant, that the day was not a good one for singing.


The Sultan was even more angry. The singer would not even see him! He turned to his Dervish to ask for advice only to to see him sitting on the floor below the window of the house. The Dervish was singing.


The Sultan thought this to be very kind of the Dervish, he was obviously trying to lessen the Sultans disappointment at not hearing a song. So the Sultan listened.


He was enchanted, he thought the song to be very beautiful. Well sung. But it was not. The Sultan, uneducated in the art of song, could not hear the false intonation and the incorrect timings.


But the singer, behind his window, could and it pained him to hear such a song so badly sung. So he threw open the window curtain and began to sing himself.


The Dervish, with a smile, stopped singing and both he and the Sultan listened as the singer sang the same song but with such quality and beauty that tears filled their eyes. The Sultan sat on the ground feeling as if he was in paradise. 


When the singer stopped he said to the Dervish. “That is how a song must be sung”. He pulled the curtain and was gone.


As they walked back to the palace the Sultan was silent. He realised that the Dervish had provoked the singer into singing and thereby had served the Sultan in a way that he could not have imagined. He never wondered at the  silences of the Dervish again. He simply waited for the right moment and the right place. 


Both words, where and when, are essential to the stories I have chosen for this collection in order for the bond between strangers to bear an unexpected fruit. An advantage to one which does not disadvantage the other.


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Please listen to these stories in the following order…


1. The Visitor.


2. The Beggar And The Sufi.


3. Soul Cages.


4. The Seller Of Words.


5. The Sadhu.


6. Tell It And Tell It Out Loud.


All of these stories, with the exception of The Seller Of Words, which I have written, have been adapted from tales which have been told over hundreds, in some cases, thousands of years by traditional oral storytellers throughout the Eastern world.


For this symbiosis I am grateful beyond words.


These recordings were made by me at home (rather than in an expensive studio which I could not have afforded anyway) on a wet October Sunday afternoon. If the sound quality is not up to expectations or to taste please fiddle with your equalizer until it is. Thank you. Enjoy.




Christian Rogers 2017