Chinese Boy.jpg
Chinese boy I met on the Ferry boat at the Summer Palace in Beijing, CN

It is the year 2012. I have just successfully completed a trip to Beijing, China, with my class, at last crowning the dream which had originally pushed me to decide to study Mandarin Chinese in High School in the first place. Souvenirs tucked into my suitcase and a fun holiday behind me, I realise that something is missing: my dad’s postcard. You see, my dad has never been one to wait for souvenirs from abroad, always settling instead for a single postcard from all the places I visited. I guess that’s also what prompted my current obsession with postcards, and it is a nice tradition I maintain to this day, to avoid having to carry kg’s of gifts and yet still send out a thought to my loved ones.

However in this case, the situation is different. After days spent looking for postcards, which for some reason no one seemed to sell anywhere I went in Beijing, I finally manage to get one and happily get it ready to be sent off once I reach the post office. Except I don’t. Because we don’t run into one for the whole time there and, once at the airport, we all realise there isn’t enough time to do it there. We quickly get ushered to our gate and then rushed onto the plane by our professors, leaving me no time to think of a plan B and consequently pushing me into despair.

It’s pure panic. I am in China – on the other side of the world and another bloody continent – and, it seems, I’m going to have to get a stamp in bloody Rome to send the damn postcard. Naturally, I refuse to accept the situation. I quickly scan the flight to check for Chinese people travelling to Rome and, hit by a wave of confidence (and desperation), I tentatively tap on a flying neighbour’s shoulder who is sitting in front of me. “Yes?” he says as he turns around, “can I help you?”. You can indeed, my friend, but I am not yet sure this guy is MY guy and therefore my interrogatory carries on. “Hi, I’m sorry but I was wondering if you’re from China”, I say. Perplexed, the guy assures me that he is and wills me to proceed with my enquiries. “If you’re from China,” I say following the rules of logic, “will you be going back to China at some point?”. Man once again replies positively and is now probably wondering what the hell is my problem. His friend also looks fairly confused by my questions.

This is my cue and I decide to go for it, explaining to the guy the whole ‘my dad wants a postcard’ situation, the lack of stamps at the airport, my despair and worry over not being able to follow through with the task. At last, I ask the final question: “Will you be so kind as to send my postcard whenever you get back to China? I don’t care when, just as long as you do”. Much to my surprise, the guy not only agrees to the plan but doesn’t even accept my money to pay for the postcard. I then decide to drop him my email address in case he might need more information when sending it and, taken aback by his apparent benevolence, I close my eyes hoping he will actually do it.

Fast forward to a few weeks, it’s a miracle in the Biasi household. The postcard finally arrives, meaning not only my dad got his gift, but the complete stranger actually followed through with his promise. I am over the moon and, not much later, receive an email from the man asking me if I received the postcard all right. This prompts a series of emails where we exchange facts and stories about each other’s respective country and, upon discovering my own passion for postcards, the guy decides to send me one from all the places he visited in China. To this day, they are still hanging in my room.

Although we haven’t spoken for years, funnily enough I got in touch with him again recently over Linkedin after he got a new job and I congratulated him on it. Crazy how life works out, isn’t it?

My message for today’s story is actually.. two messages. Firstly – if you want something, go out there and do your best to get it. Don’t accept ‘no’ as an answer or think negative circumstances are insurmountable! If needed, use a little imagination and move around the obstacles instead. Secondly, draw up some courage and talk to people – strangers, people that you’d like to connect with, people whom you find interesting. It might end up badly, it might not, but it doesn’t hurt to try! And who knows where a simple ‘hi’ could take you? Take this story as an example. 🙂 In short… don’t give up or shy away from situations and dare a little bit more. Surprises will come your way!

I hope you’re all having a lovely week,

Until next time

Elena

2 thoughts on “HOW I ACCIDENTALLY GOT A CHINESE PEN PAL.. IN PERSON

  1. Hey Elena!
    Such a great story! You are a wonderful writer.
    You are right, we should try to spread trust and love among people everywhere! And maybe we also get lucky to find penpals from another country!
    Bests
    Moe

    Liked by 1 person

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