I still remember executing that very fruitful discussion with my manager in the summer of 2000 trying to conclude – just after 2 months in my new job and just before flying out for my first business trip in Nice, France – if it were for the company’s benefit (!) to attend a week-long business meeting and visit what to many people is considered to be the first in the list of wanna-visit destinations on earth – Hawaiians excluded.
I still vividly remember my manager ending our discussion with a hugely difficult to answer question.
“Do you really want to go?”
Followed directly by an exclamation by him that…
“I think you should go! And while you are there you might as well stay over the second week for the back-to-back meeting.”
The meeting ended right there, him moving back to his desk to continue his trivial daily tasks, me trying to digest and come to grips with the big news I had just heard.
Two weeks in Hawaii? Did I hear correctly? Would I be so lucky to spend two weeks – and a weekend included – in probably the dream destination of most people? (I later realised that this frenzy with Hawaii is to a large percentage associated with the location rather than with other things that Hawaii possess. Of course I am not trying to take the credit out of Hawaii because there are some truly beautiful and exquisite places to visit, but to a certain extend if Hawaii were somewhere in the Mediterranean people would not so often go bunkers when listening to the name. Still, this is a theme for yet another philosophical post!)
The days passed. I arrived in Honolulu Airport in a glorious afternoon after an even more glorious flight – I need to elaborate on this some other time – and I spent the first days fulfilling the business aspects of the trip, but also marvelling this unique destination.
Then Friday arrived.
Some Asian colleagues, Korean and Chinese primarily, decided to have a business early dinner in a Korean restaurant. Koreans are masters in finding Korean restaurants around the world. Even in the case of the inability to find one – actually in the case of the absence of one – a Chinese restaurant is the second best. And bear in mind that even the simplest Korean sandwich shop or take-away qualifies as proper “Korean restaurant”. Apparently, that Friday no decent Korean restaurant could be traced.
So Chinese it was.
We sat around those circular tables, had a very fulfilling dinner and drank some beer until all plates were cleared from the table and it was time of those … fortune cookies.
A lady passed around one cookie to each one of us and all of us opened our cookies. It seemed like an informal ritual and each one was reading out loudly what his fortune cookie said – and the others were listening carefully and commenting. I was the last one to open mine.
Well, I am an engineer and I am mostly rational in my life and I can safely say I am not normally intimidated or influenced by anything related to clairvoyant stuff or astrology. I have never been to a fortune teller, I can assure you I don’t have a crystal ball in my room to see the future and I am not superstitious. I may once a month skim through the astrological section in magazines, but I seriously believe that this is stuff not to be taken seriously.
Still, once in my lifetime I can really say that what that fortune cookie read that Friday early evening in a quite corner of a Hawaiian restaurant did actually come true! Out of all refusal to believe to any superstitious or astrological predictions – sometimes up to level of despising such issues – in the end those few words and letters had such future insight that I could have never imagined. And I am not saying that somebody actually predicted my fortune, but it was that pure devilish luck to choose to pick that fortune cookie and not the next to it. Apparently, somebody (!) wanted me to pick that specific one!!!
“You will travel and see the world” or something like that it read.
All looked at me, nodded their head slowly downwards and like they were speaking with wisdom they said that this was a very good fortune and that I was very lucky to have read something like that.
And yes, what did actually come true was that those next 5 years I did literary travel the world! America, Asia, Australia and Europe were my home for those years. (Africa is still the always evasive continent!)
Whenever I allocate some time on recollections about travelling, my mind always jumps on that specific moment of such a simple, trivial moment that I could have never imagined that would have such insight about my life.
And the most magnificent thing is exactly how much we people cannot predict the future in that level that when serendipity, luck or whatever-we-like-to-call-it hits us, it presents us in its full glory the sheer and utter joy of being humans and living and leading such a magnificent and non-predictive life on earth
PS. We can still explain rationally such events and such occurrences – just think how many fortune cookies we open, how much general/generic things they tell us, how much wishful thinking they tell us etc. Still, in my case it was the first time I had ever opened a fortune cookie