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Making Friends out of Strangers

I was waiting outside the door of Heartbeat school for my husband. We were supposed to have our parents-teacher meeting session at 3, but he was not there yet. And then I overheard a mother who was picking up her son telling him, 안녕, 뽀뽀.

I turned to look and was puzzled. The kid didn’t look anything Korean. I turned to the mother and asked, is the kid Korean.

That was how I met E, the mother. She has been living in Malaysia for a few years now, and her son just moved to Heartbeat’s school. Since I took the day off yesterday to attend Heartbeat’s birthday party at school, we decided to have teh tarik in the morning together.

E is a really lively mom. She has been experiencing life outside Korea since she was 18 and has worked a few jobs, both full time and part time before settling down as a fulltime housewife. Even being a housewife, her days aren’t completely occupied with house chores. She goes out to socialize with friends and neighbors (or neighbors’s nannies, ha ha!), run errands and, like that Tuesday, does mani-pedi.

She talked openly about living in Dubai, how she feels when she went back to Korea for a visit, how she met her husband and of her post-natal depression (more on this soon!), over our iced teh tarik and nasi lemak(extra anchovies) and tosai. I learned from her that we can order teh tarik without sugar! I find that being a foreigner at a country comes with its own few perks. Just as the people at Teh Tarik Place came over to fetch our order instead of letting us order at the counter, didn’t the guy at the restaurant counter back in Korea helped me charge my phone using his cable? Indeed, sometimes, people are more accomodative when you are a foreigner.

It is really refreshing to be meeting new people and listening to new stories. After all those years seeing same face everyday, I really appreciate meeting E. I had thought I had turned into an introvert over the years, getting tired of meeting people at events and occasions, but I guess I just can’t shake off the extrovert part of me. Come to think of it, I really enjoy going out and meeting people and listening to their stories.

What about you? Will you say hello to a stranger too?

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