Thursday, June 30, 2011


272. Coffee room, the most crowded I have ever seen. Everyone in the department, it seems, has turned up to say goodbye to G., a last-year graduate who is now leaving for the "dark side", as he calls it. "I don't really know him," I have weakly protested when told to come to the coffee room, have a piece of cake and say goodbye, partly because it is true -- I don't really know him, apart from the fact that he is one of the friendlier faces around, with whom I talk for a few minutes every third week or so, partly because it's awkward, this whole goodbye thingy. "Come on!" Zoe has replied, "you were personally invited yesterday," a slight exaggeration (among others, the going-away boy was having a piece of Anna's carrot cake the day before, I have asked him whether his cakes, for today, too would be home-baked, and he has said no, but that we should all come for it all the same) but an effective guilt trip. 

Now, having come to the coffee room and had a piece of cake, I am saying goodbye, "Good luck... I'll see you around?" knowing that in all likelihood, I probably will not. In a few months's time, he'll be yet another used-to-be familiar face; and, in a few years's time, if I ever reread this, I probably will ask myself what G.'s full name is. ("Hello future me! The next letter is a.") C'est la vie. Note to self: Do not have a departmental goodbye when I leave.

273. Delta metro station. On the phone. 
Me: Can you please look up the directions to Kokob for me?
Anna: Didn't you do this last year?

274. Near Grand Place. On a random walk to Kokob, the Ethiopian restaurant that I have visited more than a handful of times and managed to get lost every time.
"Well, my PhD supervisor-," I started to tell him a trivia. Upon realizing that he knew the actual name, I added, "J.", then silently cursed myself for expecting him to remember. "Anyway, my PhD supervisor, he married an Ethiopian, that's how I came to know the cuisine." "He met her at a library in Ethiopia?"
"No, not Ethiopia. America, actually," I replied, then the implication of the question sank in. "How do you know...? Did I tell you...?" Both questions were rhetorical, because not only I remembered telling the story -- once -- I also remembered the context of the storytelling.

"So J. was on the emotional side, then..." he has concluded, after learning about the love story of my PhD supervisor. One afternoon in a library, J. has seen a girl across the reading room. Just like in a romantic Hollywood movie, J. immediately said to his friend, "I am going to marry that girl," and just like in a romantic Hollywood movie, they got married shortly after and have remained so ever since, despite significant cultural clashes and different upbringings. "Every relationship is either emotional or practical," J. often says in our surprisingly numerous discussions about love. To this day, I am still unsure whether the statement is meant to emphasize the strongly emotional part of his marriage or the near lack of practicality.

If only I can train myself to remember more important things, like directions to a semi-favourite restaurant where I am about to have dinner, instead of random conversations that have long lost its importance and relevance, not that they were necessarily either important or relevant to begin with.

No comments:

Post a Comment