Wait, am I really alone, and is this land that foreign?
Here I am, in Taupo, New Zealand, holed up in my cosy studio at a lovely resort on a windy, wet, and wintry night, sipping hot chocolate and (I hate to admit this since it is not likely to be fulfilled tonight) longing for a piping hot bowl of soupy ramen. I wonder if it’s the Asian in me, or if it’s just the cold weather.
Back to that question my title has sparked… I guess I am not really alone. I had lunch with the girl who sat next to me on my bus journey from Auckland to Taupo, and learnt that she was born in Hong Kong to parents who are originally from India, and lived there for 8 years before moving to Auckland, and is now studying to become a vet. And the two of us ran out of McDonald’s as if chased by thugs when we realized we had gone past the time limit the bus driver had given the passengers for the lunch break pit stop.
This morning I chatted with two New Zealander ladies who stayed at the same hotel with me near the airport. We took the same shuttle bus to the airport – they to catch their flights while I to catch my bus to Taupo. They kindly (but mistakenly!) told me that I should get down at the domestic departure terminal but it turned out that my bus was going to depart from the international terminal! So I missed my bus and ended up taking a cab to catch up with the bus at it’s next stop. It was a pretty close call as I had only 15 minutes to do so – but thankfully the cab driver knew the place and got me there on time, even getting down with me to make sure it was the right bus. He had moved to New Zealand five years ago from Punjab, India, and looked quite a lot like Ted Mosby! Just imagine Ted with slightly darker skin and longer eyelashes. Life in New Zealand, according to him, was nice. “The pace is slow and people are friendly, the weather is just right.” Cost of living? “Not very cheap, but mostly just in Auckland.”
Oh yes, knowing I was in a hurry to catch my bus, he even waived the two dollars from my 42-dollar fare because I lacked small change.
So all alone? Not quite, I guess.
So this brings us to the next part: foreign land. Sure, this is the very first time I am setting foot in New Zealand. But somehow it doesn’t feel that foreign or strange. It feels like meeting a stranger for the first time only to discover that we have a few things in common. The first thing was the diversity. The immigration officer checking my passport and asking me those questions about my visit was Asian. And walking towards the arrival hall I was greeted by Maori sculptures and music. I come from a diverse country too, so that made me feel at home right away.
New Zealanders are also a friendly and happy lot. It was 11 pm when I went through immigration and customs, and the officials were cheerfully greeting and welcoming visitors and returning New Zealanders! And the lady at the airport help counter whom I asked for information on getting around from was a sweet grandmotherly figure who looked as if I made her day by approaching her.
Foreign? It just doesn’t sound right anymore.
This post is part of SoCS and this week’s prompt is getting away or getting out. Very apt for me, and I am just glad that the resort provides free 100MB worth of wifi access so I still get to take part!