Monday, June 22, 2009

Many happy returns of the day...

Today is Fem's birthday. So this post goes to her. ( Those of you, who don't know who she is, will know by end of this post )

How easy it seems to make friends when we are in college, studying...having fun but not so easy in professional world, at work, especially when we are in a country where language is different and we don't speak and understand that language yet!

When I joined my current job, I was one of those lucky ones who had a job as soon as they moved to this country without knowing a single word of Dutch. After joining here i met many, but also started seeing the difference it makes if you can speak and understand the language. Almost all speak and understand English but still, knowing Dutch surly helps in socialising.

So that was the time, I had just joined the office. Newly married, New country, New people, New office, New culture, New language ... sometimes feeling exactly like Alice in Wonderland.
That is when i saw this Asian looking girl walking around, working on same floor as mine. We never got to talk much apart from exchanging hello on a way to coffee. When i heard her talking i wondered over her accent as it certainly didn't sound much Asian... but then who knows !!

That day I got invitation for Introduction lunch and meeting from HR. I checked the list of invitees and saw her name too. ( In office, we have quarterly Introduction meeting and everyone, who joined during that period, attend this company presentation and small induction meeting followed by lunch as a part of company Induction program )
Seeing her name there made me feel a little surprised, as looking at the way she walked around in the office, confidently, commuting with everyone so nicely i had thought she must have been here for a while. But she hadn't, she was a new joinee too, just that she joined before i did.

On that day of Induction meeting, I went for lunch on scheduled time, but I was not sure where to meet others and I hardly knew anyone there. So I bought lunch from restaurant and when I was standing in line to pay for it, This HR girl spotted me and informed me that I do not need to pay and asked me to join others at a table specially arranged for us. When I went there, almost whole table was already full with all chairs occupied and food was nicely arranged. I could spot only one sit empty nearby and that was beside this girl. She welcomed me with smile to sit beside her. I noticed that like me she also had got her food from restaurant bar and had placed that on side table and so did I.

We started talking a little bit on general things. I come to know that she is from Canada and joined one month before me. Now it happens that me being vegetarian, I am not sure what to eat. There is this typical European lunch there and I took a sandwich from that and she also had something similar. After a while of we started eating, she asked me that how I find this sandwich. Unsure what to say, I just say ya, it's okay. In response to that she made sound something like... hmmm.... and we continued our tries to have lunch !! It seemed that both of us were not feeling very comfortable with the food available on table, so then she quietly picks up her omelet and soup from side table, bought from restaurant and I do the same by picking up my soup from side tray at least to have something in lunch.

When everyone was done with lunch and we started walking towards conference room for our introduction meeting, She asks me again, now tell me frankly how did you find lunch, and I laughed. But still unsure being it my first conversation with her, i just casually replied ya okay type. I asked her the same question and she replied aah, it was terrible, I couldn't finish it.
A laugh together, relieved. I couldn't help but saying ohh thank god, I was not sure what to say... !! hahaha

I think that is how this thread of sharing started and which still continues...

I was truly amused when i found out that her roots are indeed from India but it is just that she has never been there. And a great surprise when i came to know her parents were from as Gujarat.
When asked whether she can speak or understand Hindi, ( in hopes to find someone with whom can talk in own language); the answer was even a bigger surprise as She replied, No, she doesn't but she speaks Gujarati a little bit as her parents do.
I can't express how incredible it felt, meeting someone from the same place as I was, some one who could speak my mother-tongue and someone who had never been to India !!

That felt like a great relief to have someone in this wonderland to talk with, whenever wanted.
From then on, whenever we feel tired of too much Dutch and get frustrated with our little knowledge of Dutch and cultural difference we will share our frustrations in our own language which no one else here will understand and will feel good venting it out !!! hehehehe. Everyone need a venting place, isn't it true?

It's one year in this company and i feel happy how we shared and help each other to sustain and survive in this buitenland !!

I am happy that we met....
Happy Birthday Fem :)


Anonymous said...

Thanks Lopa!
This is the best birthday gift I ever got. It is so thoughtful that you remembered the details of the beginning of our beautiful friendship. Your friendship has been a huge relief for me in The more ways than you know...and I am so grateful we met.
Did you ever think you'd meet your Gujarati Sister from Canada, in The Netherlands? LOL...

~ Lopa said...

Thanks Fem,
I am happy that you liked it :)
And yeah, I never thought i will meet someone like you here...hehehe
hope you had a nice day on your birthday !!

Nithya said...

Hey Fem Belated Birthday wishes... I know Lopa how it feels to find someone of swades in pardes...I myself felt so lost in Bangalore so u in NL I can very well imagine... But I am happy for u since u have found such a beautiful friend there... all the best... Lopa love this post of yours....This makes ur friends here all the more connected....

~ Lopa said...

Thanks Nits,
You keep asking me to write on my experiences over here and i will keep writing ;) hee hee

nameera said...

Good post!
Happy B'day Fem!
I don't know from where I came here lurking..
Will follow!

~ Lopa said...

Hee hee, Fem is really going to be so happy seeing all birthday wishes from people she doesn't know :)

Thanks Nameera for dropping by here and commenting :)
Will check out your blog too.

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