Monday, 9 April 2007

Beijing and the Melancholy of Departure

Ex pat life is exciting and inspiring. You learn about other cultures, you meet lots of interesting people, local and other ex pats. You are a foreigner yourself in a foreign country. Your sight on things gets a wider angle. You make new friends with new neighbours and with friends of your new friends.

But then it comes to the other side of the medal. Ex pat life is normally time wise limited to the contract length set by your company. And one day it is time to say good bye. Ex pat live has indeed lots of good-byes. Not only that you have to leave your host country that you learned to like or love sooner or later as human beings get used to a lot of things quiet fast. Also your new lovely friends and neighbours a leaving sooner or later.

Today my lovely French neighbour left China for good. She and her family are going back to Paris. Their plane is at 1am. They just left the compound and are on the way to the airport with two cars, full of luggage and a friend is going to farewell them at the airport. It was 10am when a group of neighbours dropped by outside the lobby, waiting in the sun, all in this strange mood, tears in the eyes, although nobody is sick or is going to die, it is sad to hug a friend to say good bye. A period of time that you spent together has ended.

Of course we can stay in contact via email and might spend holidays together. Let the children play together. But it will never be the same again. Just catching up in front of the house. Just going on a shopping tour or having spontaneous lunch. Living together in a group of foreigners in an exotic place weaves an invisible bond.

So this post is meant to remind me to esteem precious moments with special friends you make along your ex pat life.

(Picture by Stephanie Cabrera)

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