Small world occurences – a few of the more unusual instances

Facebook makes life seem as though the stars often align – in the past couple of days a friend who is a doctor statused that she wanted to treat gorillas instead of  humans. Another friend posted photos of Zanzibar. Informed the first that my employer is charged with the conservation of gorillas and that I could connect her with the right people. As for the second friend, we now have NYE plans since our schedules in Stone Town coincide.

Got me thinking of some of more unusual small-world instances. The most fun happenings I can distill to four.

1) A colleague in Kigali attended a conference in Trinidad and met a Pakistani. Introduced us. Learnt he was a friend of my dad’s cousin. We got on so well that we became correspondents and met in Geneva and then Lahore.

In a recent phone conversation that began with, “How do I put this delicately? This is rather awkward,” he informed me that his young cousin came out to him and said he had a boyfriend over a gay phone app, Grinder. My friend asked for photos. Saw they were mine. Someone had stolen my identity!

Asked me to avoid mentioning this to a particular mum’s friend since she’s apparently the boy’s aunt.

And I would never have known of the theft of my identity somewhere in Pakistan here in Kigali but for the chance encounter of my colleague in Trinidad.

2) Met a couple of the same colleague’s former colleagues from Arusha in Kigali for my colleague’s first night.

One was cute and I guessed (correctly) she was Pakistani. She was flattered and wanted to know my story. Her turn, and she says she’s from Lahore (“Of course you are,” I said, you’re civilised), but moved to Toronto. So I made the probabilistic guess that she’s Ahmadi. She was afraid I’d start persecuting her, but instead I asked, do you know my very good friend Habiba?

“She’s my sister!”

3) I had been debating in a dream one night in New York, quite inappropriately, whether the colour of my classmate from Paris’ eyes were green or blue.

The next morning, I was reading with my head down by the window of a gym, waiting for a friend. When I looked up, it was the classmate from Paris with her mouth agape.

Her eyes were brown.

4) At Berkeley, California, aged 18, wide-eyed and on the look-out for an ally from home as I began my stint as a British Pakistani undergraduate in a strange American town. At orientation for international students, I saw someone had a red passport. “Excuse me, are you British?” I ask the holder. He was, and one of us suggested we grab coffee down the road at Caffe Strada.

“So, where are you from?”

“You wouldn’t have heard of it,” I said, “it’s a village of two thousand in remote Lincolnshire.”

“Try me,” he replied.

“Thurlby by Bourne, which is near Stamford, which is near Peterborough, which is a hundred miles north of London.”

One set of his grandparents lived four miles north in Morton – a village reputed to have had England’s highest rate of incest – while his parents lived 6 miles south in the farmer’s trading town of Market Deeping. The next time we met, we had also established that his mother was best friends with one of my best friend’s mother and that his father worked in the same hospital as my mother. They became friends.


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