Last week, I received a very pleasant email from an old friend from Perth, Australia. My friend was planning to visit Kuala Lumpur. I was very excited to hear that, as I have not seen him for 6 years ! This is a very special friend. Why so special ? This friendship was formed out of nothing and became something very significant in my life.
I remember clearly it was year 2001, February. I was with my first company, in my first job, I was sent to Australia for training for a month. I flew to Perth, all by myself. My first trip away from home. I was only 21 years old then. I arrived in a service apartment in Perth. One of the hotels in Perth, I reckon. I could have picked other training locations in Australia; Sydney or Melbourne. I could have stayed in luxurious places in Adelaide or lived in lavish hotels in Melbourne. I picked Perth.
I arrived at the training centre at 8:30am on a Monday morning. Nervous like a cracked nut, I walked in, counting my blessings that I didn’t get lost on my way from the apartment to the training centre. Sat at the reception, was this lady with the most gentle, most humble smile ever. Her smile calmed me soothingly. I felt welcomed. My nervousness was shattered, I was left with no fear, except a reflecting smile on my face. We exchanged name, Linda was hers.
On the second day of my training, I met Linda again at her desk. We talked more. That day, my view changed on the life lesson my mother taught me. “Be weary of friends you meet in overseas. Never tell them where you stay” was mother’s words before I depart Malaysia. I was obviously not a very good daughter, not only I told Linda where I lived, I even told her I was living alone ! Having said that, Linda offered to show me around Perth. I was shocked beyond words. I hesitated as I looked at this over-friendly new friend. Can I trust her ? Trusted her I did, and I had the most wonderful weekend in my life in Perth. I didn’t go to the Perth International Arts Festival. All my friends were telling me about the festival, that I HAD to go and experience the art, the music, the dance. Timing wasn’t right that year. I don’t think I would have enjoyed the festival as much being a non-musical person myself.
My ride came at approximately 8am on that Saturday morning. I was picked up. I stepped into the car with 1 new friend and 2 strangers. Linda brought her best friend along, Annette and husband, Geoff. We arrived at Tumbulgum Farm.