Chance Meetings: Stories About Cross-Cultural Karmic Collisions and Compassion

Chance Meetings: Stories About Cross-Cultural Karmic Collisions and Compassion

by Madhu Bazaz Wangu


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Chance Meetings: Stories About Cross-Cultural Karmic Collisions and Compassion

In this eloquent collection of stories, twelve different people from different walks of life discover how one chance meeting with a stranger can change a person forever.
Drawing from her own Indian-American heritage, Madhu Bazaz Wangu examines the lives of ordinary people facing challenging circumstances-cruelty, prejudiced minds, twisted family relationships, unhappy marriages-and demonstrates how these situations transcend ethnicity and background as interactions with strangers force each character to look deep within themselves, often acknowledging painful truths and long-held secrets, in order to seize control of their own destinies and forge their own paths to independence and happiness.
Madhu Bazaz Wangu poignantly weaves a universal message that ties the characters in these stories together, one that applies to anyone who has experienced poverty, jealousy, fear, prejudice, disillusionment, and above all, the feeling of being a foreigner, even within one's own family.

Story Summaries:
Secret Healer: One small town boy's journey from the innocence of childhood to the injustices of servitude before finding shelter with an old man.

Cadmium and Crimson: Two sculptors, one goal-to make masterpieces in three dimensions. The older dedicates his life to art and his younger contemporary to success. Where do their intentions lead them?

Blackened Mirror: A successful artist discovers his authentic self.

A Chance Meeting: A young man treats a total stranger the way he wants to be treated without expecting anything in return to amazing effect.

Yellow Jacket: The protagonist is unable to resolve the guilt caused by the jealousy toward his younger brother as a result of his sudden death.

The Thug: In an intense, frightful hour, a woman realizes the folly of gossip.

A Precious Gift: After her son's death, a distraught woman learns from her old mother how to cope with loss.

An American Dialogue
A synchronic event changes a prejudiced woman's beliefs about a man from a religion other than her own.

Darkness Behind Eyes: At the age of seventy-two, the deep driving desire of a woman who has wanted to learn to read since her teen years helps her achieve her goal.

Gauri's Freedom: An arranged marriage dramatically alters a young woman's plans for her life until she meets another woman by chance who inspires her to take her life into her own hands through determination and self-sufficiency.

Cycle of Life: A young, idealistic woman learns why and how life goes on despite suffering, anguish and physical pain.

Portable Shrine: A writer discovers she is capable of more than she thought through the life lessons learned by the characters in her novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780972145916
Publisher: Madhu B. Wangu
Publication date: 03/20/2015
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Madhu B. Wangu Ph. D.

Madhu B. Wangu is an author, artist and the facilitator of Writing Meditation for Mindful Writers. She has a doctorate in the phenomenology of Religion from the University of Pittsburgh (1988) and a post-doctoral Fellowship from Harvard University (1989-1991). For fifteen years she taught Hindu and Buddhist art history at the University of Pittsburgh, Rhode Island College and Wheaton College. She joined Pennwriters Organization in 2005 and served as a Board member from 2007-10012. (

Madhu Wangu has written two books about goddesses, Images of Indian Goddesses: Myths, Meanings and Models, (Abhinav Publications, New Delhi, 2003) discusses the meaning of goddess myths and symbols. A Goddess is Born, her doctoral dissertation, (Spark Publishers, 2002) details the social, political, and cultural meanings of the Kashmiri goddess, Khir Bhavani. Madhu has written two extensively illustrated books for young adults, Hinduism (Facts on File, Inc., New York, 1991) and Buddhism (Facts on File, Inc., New York, 1993). She has held five one-person shows of oil paintings and prints and has exhibited with art groups in India as well as USA.

Madhu has an abiding interest in the teachings of Asian religions as they relate to the theories of Carl G. Jung and the Jungian school. As a scholar of the phenomenology of religions, she finds the vast inner world of human psyche & Self as absorbing as the ultimate reality and human soul as taught by Asian thought. More than two decades of painting, meditating and writing has led her to write about the psychic world, its expression in visual arts and literature and the aesthetic pleasure one derives from these.

Her debut collection of stories, Chance Meetings and her novel, An Immigrant Wife are to be released in 2015. She leads a weekly "Mindful Writers Group." Currently she is working on her second novel, The Last Suttee.

She lives in Wexford, Pennsylvania, USA with her husband Manoj, a robotics engineer. They have two daughters-an avionics engineer and a pediatrician. Madhu and Manoj are blessed with two grandchildren.

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Chance Meetings: Stories About Cross-Cultural Karmic Collisions and Compassion 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Algene More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely amazing. Each page will get you hooked. This beautiful piece touches the hearts and lives of its readers through the illustrations of twelve unique stories. The book made me realize how one single person can change the lives of the people he meets and the world where he lives. If you are fond of inspirational stories, then Chance Meetings is something that you should get hold of. Trust me, it is worth every second of your time. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Chance Meetings" is a incredible collection of beautifully written stories, which encourage deep thought and arouse the spirit to examine the beauty and harshness of the human condition. Wangu's gift for sensory detail and her lyrical prose take the reader on a cross-cultural journey through love and passion, sacrifice and loss, hope and fear, and from birth to death to rebirth. Wangu, is a gifted painter, but also an artist with words. I can't imagine a more vivid canvas than the images conjured in my mind in "Cadmium and Crimson" when the protagonist experiences rebirth from his casket self-crafted as the mystical Hindu Goddess, Mahadevi's Womb. Wangu is also accomplished in teaching and practicing mindfulness and meditation. More than once during my read, I imagined her speaking the beautiful words in the stories she has shared with us. Rosemary Hanrahan MD, MPH, Author and Life Coach
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My first opportunity to read one of Madhu Bazaz Wangu’s creations, and I loved it!  Every story takes you on a mini-journey into  a place where you can feel and experience the heartbreak, compassion, and resolve of the human spirit and learn a lesson from each  encounter.  Her colorful descriptions of the character’s environment, the food they eat and clothing they wear brings your mind right to  the center of their situation.   I found myself, throughout the book, deciding every story was my favorite, until I started the next one.   Then, I found that was my favorite.  By the end, I felt I had travelled to each of the faraway places Wangu describes and was satisfied with what I learned at the end of each journey.  Excellent reading!
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Jessyca Garcia for Readers' Favorite Chance Meetings by Madhu Bazaz Wangu is about how meeting one person can change or affect your life. I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. Even if I accidentally bump into someone, it was because it was supposed to happen. That is why this book appealed to me. Seeing how one chance encounter affected Wangu’s many characters was fascinating.  In Chance Meetings, Wangu tells 12 different stories about people meeting by chance. I liked all of the stories in the book, but the one I felt most connected to was “Cycle of Life.” It is about a woman who questions her life and existence until one day she meets her child. It is then that she understands her purpose in life. She realizes that everything she has gone through in her life was worth it just because of that one moment. This story really touched my heart, especially since I too have wondered about my existence and understood it better once I became a mom. The other story I really enjoyed was “The Thug.” I thought this story had a great message in it. Do not judge people and spread gossip about them when you do not know the real story.  Wangu’s short stories in Chance Meetings left me with a good feeling. These are the types of stories that I will not soon forget. These are also the types of stories I will love to share with my child when she is a little older. I highly recommend this book.
Deal_Sharing_Aunt More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading  "Chance Meetings" by author Madhu Bazaz Wangu which is a very nice and thoughtful story collection. Each story will make the reader stop and think about it before they move onto the next one in the book. All of the stories are different. I really enjoyed this collection and I give it a 4/5. I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.
HeatherJG More than 1 year ago
I'm not normally a short story kind of person but I had agreed to read and review this for Beck Valley Book Tours. This books ended up grabbing me right in the soul. It's a beautifully written collection of short stories that take over your mind, your heart and of your very existence.. The imagery and beauty of the authors stories, the inspiration you feel from reading one remarkable story after the next and the way the book just connects with you is beyond anything I had expected. This is a wonderful read and you should absolutely check it out. Just be prepared to connect with it on multiple levels.
Littlebird84 More than 1 year ago
This collection of 12 short stories begins with a fascinating foreword about the author and her own experience. A wonderful start to a wonderful book.  The stories follow people from all walks of life and centre around Wangu's Indian-American heritage. Each one leaves you with food for thought and asking yourself what have you learned from this tale and how can you apply it to your own life. Dark yet uplifting, emotional and enlightening these tales pull at your heart strings whilst the cause and effect plots really make you think.  There wasn't a single tale that didn't provoke an emotional response in me and I can't pick out a single one that fell flat in comparison to the others.  My favourite stories however - though they are more like parables - were the last two Darkness Behind Eyes and Portable Shrine. Darkness behind eyes tells the story of a 72 year old woman who has always wanted to learn to read and write, she is taught to do so by her enigmatic niece and the joy filled journey the two women undertake is inspiring. I learned a lot from the way that Lyn approaches the upset with Vanessa and how she pays forward the gift of learning. In future I will ask not how I can react to an awkward situation but how I can help.  Portable Shrine follows a frustrated author who believes that she can only write in one particular place and is distraught when her husband whisks her off to Mexico when she planned to hide away in her study to take part in NaNoWriMo. The results of her travels and finding her muse inside herself is explosive as the words flow from her and result in her first novel. As someone who has thought about taking part in NaNoWriMo for years now but talk myself out of it this story really resonated with me. I need to find the muse within and not search for it without.  Savour every meeting you encounter in your life, you never know where it could take you.  I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.
beckvalleybooks More than 1 year ago
I loved, loved, loved this book of wonderful dark yet uplifting, spiritual and emotional, thought provoking short stories.  I loved the depth of each story, like a challenge, making me think what lesson I had learnt from each, I couldn't wait to read more to find out what the next story would be about. Part fiction, part memoir, each powerful story wraps itself around Indian culture, traditions and the love of art, with unforgettable characters, this was a truly fascinating and enjoyable read.   My favorites if I have to pick had to be The Blackened Mirror, which really gripped me, next was the powerful, emotive story of love, loss and hope in A Precious Gift with every word seeming to pull at my heartstrings and finally Gauri's Freedom which had me hooked too. One story that really stood out was The Secret Healer, this had my emotions all over the place, such a sad story, which suddenly went off in a completely different, unexpected and painful direction and then ends up filling your heart with joy. I found myself nodding in agreement, smiling, gasping as I read these short stories.  Such wonderful writing by this author, they were like a cleansing of the soul, triggering your mind to think more about each one, or reminding yourself that love changes everything, seeing the true beauty of life, opening your heart and mind and don't be judgemental in life and how easy it can be to stretch the hand of friendship that can change somebody's life. I also enjoyed reading, at the beginning of the book, about the author's fascinating life , her passion for art and how she was chastised in life for wasting her time on her love of it, the sadness in her life which helped create the some of the stories and especially about her involvement in Vipassana meditation.  At the end of the book you are also treated to a chapter of the author's novel, An Immigrant Wife, which again really caught my interest. This was definitely a book I will read again and probably again!
A_Gluten_Free_Mom More than 1 year ago
Short stories are not my typical go to when I'm looking for a book to relax with. But don't let that deter you from opening up Chance Meetings. These vignettes will draw you in and hold you tight. Each of the twelve stories shows you how life unfolds the same across the world.  A pre-ordianed destiny is not something I believe in, and the stories in this collection fully support that ones needs to take their life in their hands and choose their own direction. Life is meant to be lived to its fullest and Wangu helped me to remember it again.
Savingsinseconds More than 1 year ago
The chapters of Chance Meetings are quite short and easy to finish during a coffee break. The stories aren't easily forgotten, though. They seem to mean more than the average short tale; the symbolism and allegory behind the characters have depth and meaning. This book reminds me a bit of The Life of Pi, in that I had to really think while reading it. This wasn't mind candy, like so many books in which I indulge. Chance Meetings also has a beautiful message of tolerance and acceptance, especially in terms of religious differences. I received this book to review. The opinions shared are mine. 
TeresaKander More than 1 year ago
As I finished each story in the book, I couldn't wait to get to the next one. They are well-written, and they pull you into the life of the characters. My favorite story was An American Dialogue--it is very time appropriate for this day and age.  I also enjoyed Gauri's Freedom, seeing how the young woman's life changed after an arranged marriage, and then again as she finds the courage to follow her dreams. I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MikiHope More than 1 year ago
I had no idea what to expect when I agreed to read and review this compilation of short stories. I didn't expect to be enthralled with each and every one of these what can only be called parables. According to the definition in Wikipedia the Characteristics of Parables are " A parable is a short tale that illustrates a universal truth; it is a simple narrative. It sketches a setting, describes an action, and shows the results. It may sometimes be distinguished from similar narrative types, such as the allegory and the apologue.[5] A parable often involves a character who faces a moral dilemma or one who makes a bad decision and then suffers the unintended consequences. Although the meaning of a parable is often not explicitly stated, it is not intended to be hidden or secret but, on the contrary, quite straightforward and obvious.[6] The defining characteristic of the parable is the presence of a subtext suggesting how a person should behave or what he should believe. Aside from providing guidance and suggestions for proper conduct in one's life, parables frequently use metaphorical language which allows people to more easily discuss difficult or complex ideas. Parables express an abstract argument by means of using a concrete narrative which is easily understood. The allegory is a more general narrative type; it also employs metaphor. Like the parable, the allegory makes a single, unambiguous point. An allegory may have multiple noncontradictory interpretations and may also have implications that are ambiguous or hard to interpret. As H.W. Fowler put it, the object of both parable and allegory "is to enlighten the hearer by submitting to him a case in which he has apparently no direct concern, and upon which therefore a disinterested judgment may be elicited from him, ..."[5] The parable is more condensed than the allegory: it rests upon a single principle and a single moral, and it is intended that the reader or listener shall conclude that the moral applies equally well to his own concerns." Each and every one of these tales uses cause and effect to make it's point and does it succinctly and well. This writer knows how to write a short story which is also a parable-it is rare that I can get into them the way I did these. All I can tell you is that I will be going back to re read many if not most of these time and again. There is much to be learned about life and how you should live it no matter the religion you follow!
lifeasleels More than 1 year ago
I don’t typically read what a book is about prior to reading it. I feel like that ruins it. I like the surprise. I base my desire to read a book based on the title and the cover. If the cover or title grab my attention, I take a chance and read it. This was one of those situations. I didn’t see the book cover (I don’t think) but the title spoke to me. I thought the book would be about ‘chance meetings’. Meeting someone for some reason or another. I guess I was partially correct. I thought the book would be more on a spiritual connection or two people meeting the same one person and having a different encounter than the other. I am not entirely sure what I was really expecting, really. What I got were great stories that I intend to read over and over because they are uplifting, enlightening, and… how one experience can change your life. I finished the book and have pondered the right words to articulate how I felt reading each story. They were all different and they made me feel differently. I felt that Cadmium and Crimson was more of a folklore type story. One that your ancestors would share with you. Blackened Mirror was such a neat read – probably one of my favorites out of the whole book. The Thug is one that everyone should read as it’s based on pre-judgement and judging based on gossip. Darkness Behind Eyes was inspiring. They all were such great stories that leave you with different emotions, different lessons. I really, really enjoyed this book and while I typically do not read books more than once; this is one I plan on reading every few months to remind myself of the little things and chance meetings.
BookwormNM More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised with each and every short story Madhu beautifully created. Each one with its own life and lesson. Every story is well written and full of magic that will give you goosebumps and leave you uplifted and satisfied that we are all in the exact place we need to be in our life. I loved learning more about the beautiful Indian culture and liked very much how little bits of it were added to the stories. Such a beautiful collection of short stories, one I want to re-read over and over! I would definitely buy another book from this author!
dedaDL More than 1 year ago
Chance Meetings is a wonderful collection of short stories about life. Each unique and meaningful. I found the stories to be intriguing while forcing me to examine my mind and heart. I think my favorite short story was The Blackened Mirror. I story about wanting, believing and needing. Things I think we all are searching for in life. Chance Meeting is a great book to keep handy to pick and and read a short story. It has turned into my favorite bedside table book.
SMilczar More than 1 year ago
In this eloquent collection of stories, Dr. Wangu weaves a rich tapestry of the human condition with the strong, clear language of myths. Whether it's a tale of an impoverished orphan in India with no family or friends to turn to in a desperate moment, or an elderly American woman imprisoned within the walls of illiteracy, each story hangs like a bead on a japa mala - for the reader to touch and be touched by the transformative power of storytelling. These are also stories of relationships and how we are affected by them: family, loved ones lost and new love found, the strength to forge new life out of a broken one, differing cultures. My experience, after reading the collection, was also one of cultural immersion. I now have a greater understanding and appreciation for the Indian culture and people.