The day I took a leap of faith, I decided to don an army green top not only because I was madly in love with the way it felt on my skin, but also because I associate the colour with soldiers – brave, not the least intimidated and strong-willed – traits which I hoped to have been instilled within me as I went to war. War against my fear of the unknown, that is.
As I sauntered into Immigration, I looked back every now and then at my family as they fervently waved goodbye. Tears were welling up in my eyes, and hard as I tried, my attempts at covering it up with a smile were futile. Turning my back at them to walk towards my gate may very well have been one of the toughest things I’ve done in my life. I knew it wasn’t a ‘goodbye’, but sometimes, a ‘see you later’ can be difficult too.
Sitting upright in my seat as the plane battled a wee bit of turbulence, I went over time and again in my mind everything I remembered having heard/ read about setting off on one’s own, trying to visualise the adventures that lay ahead, showing to the back of my mind, with youthful abandon, the possibility that this may very well be the riskiest journey I’ve ever embarked on. I was alone with my thoughts, and with all the time in the world to reflect on what I had undertaken and what it might mean for myself and for those I was leaving behind. I figured, change is necessary – inevitable, really. I fear it, but I suppose it will always be worth the risk of following through – this time included.
I was very fortunate to have been assigned a seat sandwiched between a middle-aged French Literature teacher who spoke with the loveliest accent and a German elderly lady who undoubtedly had an interest in Veganism. My conversation with the French man began when I fished out a book given to me by a very special friend – I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou. He gasped and dramatically cupped his face as he exclaimed at what I wonderful book it is, and what a talented writer Maya is. We spent the next few hours talking about some of his and my favourite works of literature, about Shakespeare and how much of a genius he was, about France and about Singapore too. What a charmer! As for the elderly lady, our interaction began when I whipped out the container of bliss balls I had prepared for the flight. I was just about to take my first bite out of one of the bliss balls when it somehow rolled out of my grasp and onto her lap. O O P S. To my amusement and utter surprise, she picked it up, took a realllllll good look at it and a huge smile spread across her face as she asked in a very strong German dialect, “My granddaughter makes these too! They’re called energy or bliss balls? Made out of datteln (dates)? She told me that they taste like caramel gummies. She is a vegan and makes vegan treats of this sort. Are you Vegan too?”
“Yes yes I am!!!”
Oh how I wished it wouldn’t have seemed out of place for me to give her a hug because I sooo wanted to do just that. I absolutely adore the pride she exuded when she spoke about her granddaughter; it was the sweetest thing ever. I could tell that this girl, whoever she was, is loved by her grandmother. We had the best conversation about veganism, about Medjool dates and about the other kind of dates too – the kind of dates that couples go for, because why not hahahaha.
Never in a million years did I ever imagine myself seated between two amazing strangers – one who shared my love for literature, and another who generously tutored me on relationships. :’)
During the 12 hour 40 min flight, I had a bit of time on my hands to indulge in a bit of the entertainment provided on our TV screens, so I chose to watch “The Second Best Marigold Hotel” without any knowledge that I’d learn so much from it. Fate was so kind to have led me to choosing it by chance. I thought I’d share some of my favourite lines from the movie with you.
“If not now, then when? If not us, then who?”
“Sometimes I find that the difference between what we want and what we fear is the width of an eyelash.”
“We need teamwork to make a dream work.”
“You have to figure it out on your own.”
“Why, when you’re here?”
“So that you can do it when I’m not.”
“She turns a moment into magic.”
“If the good things don’t come on their own, I must make them, and that’s what I intend to do.”
“How many new lives can we have? As many as we like, while we can.”
“I’m a part of all I have met.”
“What do you do when you are faced with a difficult decision?”
“I don’t believe there is such a thing. We flip a coin, and we always know which side we want it to land.”
“Nothing admires me more than someone who plants trees under whose shade she may never sit.”
“There’s no such thing as an ending, just the place where you leave the story.”
“Let go, because that’s when the fun starts.”
“Time passed and pain turned into memory.”
After a slightly emotional exchange of goodbyes with the neighbours I had for the past 13 hours, we disembarked the aircraft in Frankfurt for a short stopover. I was over the moon when I found out that vegan pushcarts selling purely fruit smoothies, wraps and salads could be found along the corridor beside the boarding areas. I went bonkers; I would have bought all the food they were selling if I could, because W O W were the things that I tried absolutely delishhh.
When it was finally time to fly off to Munich, one of the airport personnel was guiding the passengers to the various entrances of the plane according to the class of their seats, i.e. First, Business, Economy Premium and Economy. As my Dad and I walked towards the entrance meant for the Economy class, the airport personnel said with a straight face, “Not Premium? There there, it’s okay.” I exhibited the most normal behaviour I could manage – laugh with my head snapped back and hands clapping together like a seal. Hahahaha oh my my, so this was what my friend meant when he tried to explain to me what German humour was all about. I thought it was just my Dad who uttered such jokes; I never would have thought that it’s a form of normalcy throughout Germany.
Well then, I suppose my stay in Munich will be exciting to say the least!