Tag Archives: Texas

Friends across the sea

12 Nov

One of the wonderful things about all the travel I’ve done this year was the opportunity to see people that I don’t get to see very often.  As long as I know I’ll be in an area and have a little free time I will reach out to people to see if we can spend some time together.  This year was a new record for me.  I have been blessed with wonderful friends who are now scattered all over the world – I like to say that I “collect people” through my life, like the pearls of a necklace.

In February I got to spend a weekend with my sister in Austin, Texas between two sets of meetings for work.  The last time I was in town she was recovering from a knee injury – this time we enjoyed local barbecue at Rudy’s and took a long walk down by the river.  I would go back again for the barbecue in a second – and the banana pudding!  It was a great weekend.

Barbecue!  They even let us try samples before we ordered.

Barbecue! They even let us try samples before we ordered.

Nobody does barbecue like Texas!

Nobody does barbecue like Texas!

A couple of months later I was back in the States again and got to spend a weekend back in my hometown with my best friend and her kids.  We had hamburgers and ice cream and went to the park.  It was the quintessential American weekend – one of those days that made me wonder why I am still living in Shanghai so far away from friends and family and blue skies.  The weekend also made me thankful that I have the resources to travel and the experience to appreciate going home.

Blue skies at the park

Blue skies at the park

In June I managed to connect with a former colleague in the UK at Paddington train station in London before heading off to the airport.  We had a long brunch and traded stories since we had last seen each other, nearly a year before in Singapore.  She has now retired and looked fabulous – rested, relaxed with a bit of a tan.  I hope when I get to that phase of my life I have that many stories to tell.

At the end of June I was in San Francisco and managed to connect with many old friends – both at the actuarial conference that I attended,

An old friend from Chicago who worked in Hong Kong, visited me in Shanghai and went to the same conference in San Francisco.

An old friend from Chicago who worked in Hong Kong, visited me in Shanghai and went to the same conference in San Francisco.

but also a friend from Shanghai who moved back to Canada and was randomly in town for the weekend when I was there.  That connection even surprised me – we both put a photo on social media of the beautiful day in San Francisco and then realized our hotel rooms were on the same street!

Also in San Francisco I met up with a friend from Shanghai who lives there now.  She spent a day taking me to Fisherman’s Wharf where we had seafood and visited the famous Boudin bakery where I bought myself a sourdough roll.  We rode the trolley and explored the city – I even bought a T-shirt.  Sometimes being a tourist is the best way to see a city.

IMG_20140622_115227 IMG_20140622_133336

In July I had a friend come to me – Carissa from Everyday adventures in Asia.  She was in town for work and I was actually in Shanghai that week and volunteered my spare room.  We stayed up way too late to squeeze in every moment of time together  because neither of us know the next time we’ll have the opportunity.

And finally I managed to squeeze in a quick breakfast with an old friend from Shanghai who was in my first Chinese class at Miracle Mandarin when I was in Jakarta in August.  She’s Indonesian, married to an Australian who has lived in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Australia.  Her daughter was born in Shanghai and they moved a couple of years ago back to Jakarta.  We hadn’t seen each other since, but we connected as if we had seen each other the previous weekend.

We even remembered to snap a photo!

We even remembered to snap a photo!

Friends are that way – even when they are across the sea.  Shared experiences and special relationships come together to make a wonderful, welcoming place for me all across the world.  If you’re in my neck of the woods – I’m happy to welcome you too!

Do you have friends across the sea?

Trend spotting – froyo

28 Jun

Would you expect to get the same food in Austin, TX, Chicago, IL, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Shanghai, China?  I normally don’t – but in the two months I’ve seen the same trend in all of those different places.

And what is the trend?

Frozen yogurt.

It started with my visit to my sister in Austin, Texas.  Texas is a warm place and she suggested a snack after we had toured the campus.  Her snack of choice was a frozen yogurt place where they had special “tart” yogurt with self serve freezers and then you could add toppings.  You paid for the yogurt by weight.  I thought it was a pretty cool concept.

The trend continued when I was in Chicago.  The weather the first day was very hot and as the midpoint in a walk, we stopped at a shop for frozen yogurt.  Then, in Michigan at a shopping mall with my dad and his friend, there was a frozen yogurt stand where you could add fruit, chocolate, nuts, etc.  Confirmed – frozen yogurt was just about everywhere.

Enjoying our frozen yogurt in Chicago (photo courtesy of my friend David)

I didn’t think much about it until a week or so ago when I was going through the big food court in Raffles City here in Shanghai.  I turned a corner and found – a frozen yogurt stand, which was self serve with toppings.

Small world.

Sometimes things will come to Shanghai before they make it to my home.  Clothing trends especially seem always to be a little ahead.  Other things come much later or not at all.  Perhaps if I was from the east coast or the west coast the patterns would be different (for example, I understand frozen yogurt is old hat in California now) – but this trend appears to be everywhere at once.

So – in honor of summer, of the longest days of the year – of the heat – I suggest we all have a frozen yogurt.

What’s your favorite flavor?

Eavesdropping in Texas

5 Jun

When I was in Austin spending time with my sister last month I had the opportunity to do some eavesdropping one day.  Given that I was in Texas, the natural inclination is that I pulled out my rusty spanish and heard a conversation or two, right?  Wrong.

While I did hear lots of Spanish – the conversation that perked up my ears was when I was waiting in my sister’s office for her to come back from a meeting.  She has three others in her shared office and one of them is originally from China.  He took a call in mandarin (from someone I later found out was his girlfriend) and exchanged pleasantries and some pretty short information about class schedules.  I smiled to myself as I’m pretty sure he wasn’t expecting me to be able to follow. Later that afternoon when my sister and I were heading out, I told him – in mandarin – that I speak mandarin and that I’ve lived in China for nearly five years.

His mouth pretty much hit the floor.  It was great – the ultimate eavesdropping.  Luckily nothing of importance was said and all parties left with a smile on their faces.

Have you ever eavesdropped on someone knowingly or unknowingly?  Any funny stories?

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