Life is full of surprises, some good, some bad, and the trick to enjoying it all in spite of the outcome is acceptance. I met an old friend for dinner last night and had a marvellous time catching up. Family and careers prevent us from meeting more often, so when we do, we definitely make the most of it. The greatest blessing of having such friendships that span almost 30 years, is that we know each other’s backgrounds, culture, family quirks, values and everything that has happened in our professional lives. There is a genuine interest in the professional as well as personal developments, in addition to a deep understanding of why we react to certain situations the way we do. She is as German as can be, and I will always be as Asian as they come no matter what my passport says. But her years in Asia, coupled with mine in Europe, plus a shared foundation in development work and a fundamental desire to selflessly help others is an unbreakable bond.
Needless to say, as I sat on the train home, I reflected on the other people in my life who claim to know me but have never really bothered to get to know me. I hope you understand the difference! Understanding a person’s country, cultural background, the manner in which they were raised, how their parents thought, is essential to such deep friendships and spells all the difference when you are going through the low points in life.
What a wonderful feeling to be fully understood again for who I am, what I was, what I left behind , was I lost, where I came from, and why the struggle is so real to build a new life in Germany. She laughed and commiserated at my frustrations with German bureaucracy, legal entanglements, and general difficulty in integrating in a complicated social structure, and I learned a few new concepts as well, which she also recently discovered. It is not just the foreigners who find Germany complicated…
Acceptance of the other person and persona, is a gift. And so is acceptance of greater mysteries that crop up from time to time. I got home, stumbled up the stairs and when I reached my apartment door, there was a bag of potatoes on the doormat. No note, no context, and I had no clue what it was about. I hadn’t ordered anything, and the farmer hasn’t made the weekly deliveries in a while so I can’t even blame it on him. My first instinct was to chalk it up to my neighbours who have been bringing me food ever since the accident and with that thought, I went to bed. Before you ask whether it might have been part of something I ordered and forgot about, let me remind you that no Asian would ever order just potatoes! A 10kg sack of rice perhaps, but never potatoes.
This morning I sent out several messages to the people whom I thought could have been responsible for the mysterious potatoes and they all denied it. One theory is that someone wants me to make potato salad for this years neighbourhood picnic because they liked the one I brought last year so much. But why not just come over and tell me? Another theory is that I have a secret admirer who thinks I would appreciate something edible. My theory is that someone went grocery shopping and dropped the potatoes on the way up.
One of my soul sister advises not to solve the mystery and simply accept it. Which is exactly what I will do. ‘Taters up!