Have you heard about messages in a bottle travelling half way round the world and being traced back to the owner? I have always laughed when I hear such stories and say
"we cannot seem to get messages from one floor to another without them gettting lost and did you just say messages in a bottle?"
And yet I was the one who received this mail on saturday morning in my inbox with the title:
From a Stranger You Thought You'd Never Meet . . .
and the mail said:
Dear Usha,
On June 14, 2004, you recorded in your blog, "Today Julie Tisdale, a complete stranger , whom I shall never meet, came into my life for a few moments." You recounted an experience of finding a thank you note on page 39 of a used book called "Still Life with Woodpecker."

I am that Julie Tisdale, and I wrote the thank you note in February, 1988.Would you like to know how accurate you were in your deductions about who I was? What was the occasion? What were the references to Knots?

Last month I celebrated my 18th wedding anniversary with Mr. William E.Tisdale, Jr. You were correct that the thank you note was for a bridal shower gift. "Kar-Kar," as I affectionately call my friend Karen, along with another friend named Mary, gave me a little black and white five inch television. I still have that little TV and keep it at the office for late night projects.

Their card to me said, "Just because you have to work in the kitchen doesn't mean that you have to miss Knots." Yes, Knots Landing, my favorite TV show of all time. And yes, I am American.

What do I watch now, you mused? Medium, Lost, Cold Case, My Name is Earl,and Desperate Housewives.

Bill still does all the cooking for our family, along with the grocery shopping, yard work, and laundry. (Yes, I know I am a very lucky wife!)

Now please satisfy some of my curiosity. How did you come upon the book? Were you in the States or was the book in India? Do you work outside your home? How do you find the time to write such intriguing blog entries?

And I will tell you: yours is the first blog I have ever visited. Your style of writing is most captivating, and I was enthralled with your conjectures about me and the thank you note. It was truly a bright spot in my day.


The post I wrote in 2004 was triggered by a simple 3*4 thank you note that I found inside a second hand book I boght in Blossoms Bookstore!!

Today, more than ever before, relationships are falling apart because people do not make an effort to reach out to one another and ironically today, more than ever before, we have the tools to touch anyone, anywhere in the world. It is just a matter of making the effort.
Thank you Julie for taking the time and effort!

And this is the post I wrote on June14,2004:

Life is so strange – sometimes total strangers leave a mark in your memory forever.
Like the song that floated from the window of a house in a street where you went just once for something.
Or the warm smile of an old lady after you helped her cross the road
Or a scene outside a house where you had stopped the car during a traffic jam – a father and daughter sharing a joke or a little girl with a dog .
There is something intense and captivating in that moment that your memory just captures it like a photograph. You never knew these people but they have touched some part of you.

Today Julie Tisdale, a complete stranger , whom I shall never meet, came into my life for a few moments.I shared a whiff of a special moment from her life through a thank you note that she wrote which found its way into my hands after many years.
I had picked up “Still Life with Woodpecker” at a used book store yesterday. This morning as I turned over to page 39 this card fell from the page. I should have thrown the card away and proceeded to read but somehow it had the fascination of a clue in a treasure hunt. So I tossed the book aside and read the card in stead:
A tiny elegant personalized card used for thank you notes or short private notes, the top flap announced the sender’s name in a stylish font:
Mr.& Mrs William E.Tisdale, jr.
Inside was a handwritten note:
Dear Kar-Kar,
You guys are the greatest ! What a perfect gift you chose in the T.V. In fact, it really was my favorite. The shower was so much fun; I couldn't have asked for a funner evening. Thanks for everything.
P.S. Bill loves the T.V. too. So, now he can cook & I can watch Knots on the big one!

This note gave me the thrill of a cryptic clue in a treasure hunt. I tried to see what clues lay in the letter about the person who wrote it and the background of the note.
There was a shower where Karkarand company had gifted a T.V to Julie, currently Mrs Tinsdale Jr..- More likely a bridal shower .
Julie is English or American? “favorite” and “funner” are certainly American and then the reference to Knots – most certainly American!
Knots Landing, television's second longest running drama (after Gunsmoke), ran from 1979 to 1993 on CBS television. Produced by Lorimar (owned by Time/Warner) the 14 seasons focused on the lives and loves of neighbors who lived in a southern California cul-de-sac.
So Kar- Kar used the thank you note as a bookmark, which found its way into the used book store along with the book.
Kar-Kar, very thoughtful of you! Btw,how did you like the book?
Julie, I hope you still love the television as much. Which soap do you watch now that Knots is over?
Bill, how is the cooking coming along?

This is much like watching one episode of a long running soap – you don’t know what happened before and will never know what happened afterward.
This tiny card and the 4 lines told a story better than some of our 2 and half hour movies.
40 Responses
  1. This is so movie like!
    I tell you Usha, these things only happen to gifted people like you, who takes each and every moment given to them with intrigue and enthusiasm.
    Guess you just earned another friend. : )

  2. Visithra Says:

    awww what a story - finding a total stranger - thats just beautiful to know - shes right ur writing is intriguing ;)

  3. Anonymous Says:

    This is truly amazing, so.. weird things do happen! Apart from that I clicked on the link "My son - Siddhu" and I saw "Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo" I thought... this name sounds familiar! I remember Dhanji telling me that Siddu is into sports journalism. If I am not wrong you were Dhanji's neighbor at IIMB? Anyway I am Swaminathan a good friend of Dhanji and used to play cricket with Siddu. I have been reading your blog for a couple of weeks now and its wonderful! :)

  4. Mahadevan Says:

    What a great Blog!. This is my 'spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings'. I shall read this Blog, again and again and come back to you with 'emotion recollected in tranquility'.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    This is truly amazing, Usha. I _still_ can't get over it! Thank God for stores like Select and Blossom. They touch our lives in more ways than one.

    ~ Shibs.

  6. shub Says:

    this is a delightful little story :) i love it!

  7. Anonymous Says:

    here's one more "eerie" (?) connection

    hv been a reader of your blog for the last few months and I have been having this major urge to meet you. No particular reason though...
    (i devour blogs non-stop but have never wanted to meet anyone except wondering sometimes about the how the blogger would be in person)

    i dont think i hv read your archive regarding this book but this book at one point used to mean everything to me (again i dont think i can pin point to any one reason). BTW my machine id is StillLife...

    I wanted to own this book and found it in a non descript second hand store in east andheri mumbai not on the famous flora fountain footpath. I loaned it to a friend and never saw it again as she got transferred and went away with my book :-((

    naan enna solla varenna
    its just a wierd coincidence :-)

    -still life

  8. Mahadevan Says:

    I read this Blog again and again three times. If the first eight lines of your 14th June Blog is sheer lyrical beauty in its form and sensitive to even the insignificants in the surroundings, in the four lines of the second para of your letter to Julie, one can see sublimity in style and the conveyance of loftiest of thoughts. Mere inadvertent dropping of a ‘Thank you’ card, like that dropping of an apple, has brought about a new of looking at the ordinary.

    The words in the card ‘just because you have to work in the kitchen doesn’t mean that you have to miss Knots’, has been an eye opener to me. I never felt like that towards my wife and much less, talked to her in that fashion.

    Julie certainly deserve our praise for picking up the thread and not allowing it to drift away.

    This Blog, I shall certainly cherish, as I cherish Keat’s Nightingale and Shelley’s Skylark.

    I am an incurable optimist and however good this Blog may be, like Robert Browning’s Rabi Ben Ezra, I believe, your ‘Best is yet to be’.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    WOWWWWWWW i dont want to say amazing as many have said that already...

    still awww...

  10. bincy Says:

    This is such a beautiful post. For you to write about it and Julie to actually read it.. just beautiful..

  11. Southern Califonia. I lives there. South Central L.A., the most ferocious place on earth, to be precise.!! But I never saw this lady here. Is she from So Cal? Or only the TV show?

  12. Julie, you have not seen all (blogs) unless you have seen Pinchas's blog! That is the best. But hurry up! The offer won't last long, because Pinchas is going Cuckoo faster than ever!

  13. Usha Says:

    Hi all,
    This is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me and the story continues.
    Apart from Julie who wrote to me saying that we must share the story with others, I just heard from the lady who wrote the thank you note too "KAKAR" Karen. She wrote a very warm mail parts of which I quote:
    "Thank you for your interest in blogging. It has made a magical story come to life. A couple of years ago I wrote Julie Tisdale to let her know how much she influenced me in many ways in my career and life and she was kind enough to respond. It was fun to "reconnect" with her then. I couldn't imagine anything topping that experience -- but this one has. This was more magical and I feel I have connected with a very special person in India. Thank you!"

  14. Shruthi Says:

    How wonderful! Its like a childhood fantasy come true :) [I used to dream about such things happening, when I was a kid ;)]
    It was lovely reading this.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Usha, like these happen only to special people. Glad its you!

  16. Anonymous Says:

    for your sake, i hope this lady is truly julie tisdale. anyone could have made up that story. it was all there in your post!

  17. Anonymous Says:

    WOW... call it coincidence.. or puns of destiny... :)

    Well, sure feel like new to leave a comment after such a long time... :)

  18. truly incredible... I am an avid collector of old books and I have found some amazing stuff inside like a new york times cutting of Sarvapalli's Radhakrishnan's visit to the US in 1953. His whole speach was there..

    Its truly more valuable than the book..

    But havent blogged about it till now. Maybe its time I did :)


  19. Ardra Says:

    Magical...and those who have read this post feel touched by that Magic too...those special moments in life which makes Life Beautiful and worthwhile...

  20. Paavai Says:

    Butterfly effect in full action :)-

  21. Preethi Says:

    Wow... this is such a nice experience.. This is just too good to be true.. U picking up some book, mentioning it in ur post, the object of that post reading it after 2 years... Sounds like a movie..
    But I feel such small things are the beauty of living... Had you not analysed that Thank-You card so much, this feeling wouldnot have known to us all..
    I personally saw many such bookmarks, but as I wasnt blogging then, I didnt mention any of them.
    Now on, if I get any of such cards, I will surely mention them.. Who knows, even I might be the receipient of such a wonderful feeling!!!
    U r too good, Usha...:)

  22. Anonymous Says:

    How thrilling!

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Amazing and Very Heart Warming indeed.

  24. Alpha Says:

    gave me a goosebumpy feeling..awesome story. thanks for sharing!

  25. Usha Says:

    Thanks to everyone who dropped by to read " the travels of the tiny thank you card" and thanks for leaving such warm comments and sending me such lovely mails.(apparently the story had 712 views yesterday! Thanks Anita and Thanks Desipundit).
    Only one person had doubts that Julie was really Julie. Well, there is nothing to gain by pretending in this story - there is no treaure, no legacy involved. And both Julie and Karen wrote from their office email addresses - I think it is a little too much trouble to create false Ids for the sake of a simple blog!!

    Thanks once again to everyone who saw the magic in "our" story.

    -Usha, Julie , Karen

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Just the kind of think that would happen to you. In college too, you were the one who attracted total strangers and within a week they are confiding in you...

  27. Shobha Says:

    Your post made a delightful read. Small magic moments in life like this make life so livable :D

  28. Bijesh Says:

    truly amazing!!

  29. eM Says:

    wow great story! I love reading other people's notes in second hand books too--inscriptions and all. You should read Ex Libris, if you haven't already, by Anne Fadiman, it has a great section on second hand books.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    Incredible! Coincidences like these happen to people who are intutive by nature. Intutive people are sensitive and vice versa. It shows that there is some cosmic design in such meetings. Please dont call my comment kitch! ha ha ha...

  31. So totally awesome, Usha. Things like this make life so wonderful, n'est-ce pas?


  32. Anonymous Says:


  33. her Says:

    Adding my own bit I take this opportunity to share something that your blog brought to me after 8 years of searching...

    Kishore studied with me at school. He was in X standard when I was in my 8th and we used to go for quizzes together and all. Later we split due to some misunderstanding and I had been looking for him for 8 years. There is not a place in the net where I have not looked (google, yahoo, batchmates, hotmail, orkut to name a few)...and I found him on your blog list and we are friends again!

    :-) Thanks Usha..coincidences seem to be your forte! :-D

  34. GuNs Says:

    Hey there...
    I just managed to come to this post from a link on Shradz's blog where she mentioned your interesting article.

    I must say you are a most interesting writer. I'll be marking up your blog and Will definitely try to read more stuff from you !

    Check out my blog and see if you find anything interesting. Would love to see your comments there.


  35. Anonymous Says:

    I just love your blog Usha :)

  36. You know, that was so Usha'ish- the gesture of throwing aside the book and dwelling on the card instead. Anything could catch your interest, and yet you are not one to be sidetracked so easily. And then you going on to wonder about the lady who wrote it..., and write about it,... you MUST have been at a loose end that day...;-)

    Some things are just meant to be- like Julie was meant to google her name and come across your blog on her card- totally amazing coincidence. I can just imagine how she and Kar Kar would have laughed and wondered at it- at the accuracy of your guesses.

    It was nice of Julie and Kar Kar to write to you and keep the connection alive. But then the way you write is so write- back'able. Now I'd better stop before i start gushing, seem to do that too often these days!

    Btw, I frequent Blossom pretty often too. Wouldn't it be the most wonderful coincidence if we bumped into each other there?

  37. Anonymous Says:


  38. Anonymous Says:

    wonderful I would say, I never believed in the bottled messages too, but now...well I would have to rethink. Getting in touch with strangers like this is sheer poetry. wonderful read, came here frm Shruthi's.

  39. Loved it :-)
    I also love doing such things.
    I love to dig up such info.

    I used to check the list of borrowers in library books and used to be like "wow!this book was borrowed 25 years back by member number 8988")

    Great read.


  40. Sujatha Says:

    What an amazing coincidence! It's wonderful that Julie Tisdale found and responded to your musings about the Thank-you note.
    I wasn't so lucky when I purchased a second-hand book, but I did get a wonderful peep into another life