On Thursday night, I received a really neat surprise, and was privy to one of the craziest good karma connections I have ever heard of . . . one of those "6 degrees of seperation" things. Here is how the story unfolded . . .
After work in the evening ended at 9pm, I met up with YJ and had dinner at the new Italian restaurant. This restaurant is clearly going to be my new favourite, as the prices are (for a variety of western dishes, good food and great ambience) outrageously low, and the food excellent. I evn tried the house red wine, and the slightly oaky dry aftertaste complimented my rich and delisious cheesecake very nicely. For 6 and 12 rmb respectively, I couldn't go very wrong there . . .
After a relaxing and satiating meal, we had to decide if we should go home, or visit the Blue Bar and meet up with my colleague and friend Ian, who had a friend visiting from Canada. We finally made the decision to go to the bar, and we met up with the usual gang of miscreants there. I met James, Ian's friend, and as I shook his hand, he hands me a nondescript white bag with various items inside. As he does this, he adds, "Oh, and this is from Al."
I have never seen this guy James before, and to my knowledge no one knows I have a friend named Al in Canada, and I know none in China . . . baffled, I ask, "Who is this Al? I don't think I know an Al in China, are you sure you have the right guy?" With a big smile on his face, he replies, "No, I think I have the right guy . . . it's from Al in Toronto - you know, your old buddy!"
Dumfounded, I look through my goody bag as I hear the incredible story. James, a young guy in his early twenties who lives in Toronto, had a friend who lives on a certain street near downtown, across from where my good friend Al lives. One day, he visits his friend, and on the street (probably waiting for the bus), Alastair befriends them to take them out for a beer and a chat. Some time later, Al goes out to a concert with the two guys (James and his friend), and Al remembers that James is going to China in a few weeks. Thinking of his good buddy who is living in China at the time, Al queries James as to where he is going in China, thinking he may be going close to where I am. Usually, a foreigner will go to Beijing or Shanghai or Hong Kong, and if it's Shanghai, well, Wuxi is just a short hop away. To Al's astonishment, he replies that he is going to Wuxi to visit his friend Ian. Alastair can't believe his good luck, that this guy is going to the exact city in all of China that I live in, and they speak on the coincidences of life.
Al then makes a care package, and James visits his friend Ian in China. James has very little luggage, as he is going only for a 4 week holiday, so he thinks nothing of it. Alastair gives him all the info he can find from my stories on how to find me - bars frequented, restaurants, friend's names, and adds my phone number and address. But as it turns out by massive coincidence again, James' friend is my friend and colleague here in Wuxi! What a crazy, crazy, small world it is, eh?
The taxi dropped us off at the stadium, and we all walked inside the magnificent new dimensions of the Wuxi Baseball Diamond. Aaah, the fresh chalk lines in the dirt, the excited chatter of future softball fans, and the thrill of the grass . . . All of our worries melted away, as there was a large turnout, and the sun shone brightly the whole time.
About nine players from my team showed up, most of them Chinese and some foreigners who had never played before. YJ was such a trooper, and I was very proud of her as she tried to hit the ball and field and throw. Three other Chinese students came out for the WEB Sluggers, and they all picked up the general idea of the game pretty quickly as well. My good friends from other countries in Asia soon started to get the idea of hitting the ball properly, and later in the day Jon cracked out a few hard hit balls. Catching the ball apparently takes a bit more practice, but it will all come together I am sure. The day turned out to be a lot of fun, and for the beginning of the following week I was sore from the short effort of physical exertion . . .
Next week, my team won't be playing the first batch of real games, but I will be there anyways - as umpire. That's right, I will actually be umping the first three games of the season, so I will definitely have to brush up on some of the different rules of our softball league (bases on errors, how many runs can be scored in an inning, etc). I think it will be a fun experience, actually, and with all of the new faces to the game of baseball, it should be a hoot to watch. I will be waiting (with beer in hand) for the first player to be thrown out because they ran in the wrong direction . . .
Well, as many of you know, I have had a girlfriend for quite some time now in China. YJ has been with me through a few trials and tribulations already with me, and every time she is tested, she comes through with flying colours. She has put up with inappropriate comments from Chinese and westerners alike in reference to our relationship, she has survived a long hard trip to Tibet with me, and she has endured my dark moods. Even though she also works just as hard as I do, she takes the time to cook for me as I get home late, and even helps out with washing my clothes when she can. Every one of my foreign friends love her, but it's not too hard - she is an exuberant, shining personality, and she is always kind, thoughtful and polite to others. Besides having a beautiful personality, she is also a gorgeous looking woman, so there is really no downside here at all. In short, she's an angel.
I don't want to embarrass her (too late babe, sorry!), but she is the most important part of my life right now, and I realised recently that I would be remiss if I didn't mention that. It's not as if we don't have our occasional problems - we are as human as anybody else, and of course being from two totally different cultures and having some communication problems puts added pressure on our union. Yet we have crossed every hurdle so far, and the road ahead looks clear . . . I love Yijie and she loves me, so what more is there to say?
And that's as sappy as I get, so soak it in while you can . . . ;)
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