Thursday, February 23, 2012

Farewell my Airplane Friend

Jacob, my airplane friend, has just returned to India as his contract here in Toronto is finished.  Before he left we had him over for dinner.  I had to think long and hard what to serve him as we had already had our family's favourite dish - Nigerian Curry - and we had had typically Canadian food - such as tourtiere, French Canadian pea soup, and turkey dinner - so I decided that Mexican (or my version thereof) would be a good thing for Jacob to try before going back to India.  I set the table with bright orange, teal, and green colours (my version of a bright Mexican tablescape) and we enjoyed some tacos.  Jacob hadn't had Mexican food before so I was glad to add that to his repetoire of new experiences here in Canada.

It was fun showing Jacob Canada and seeing it through his eyes.  Jacob really loved experiencing all that Canada had to offer and especially loved the woods and lakes and wilderness.

I met Jacob in August when I was seated next to him on my flight home from India.  He had never been to Canada and was very interested in finding out what to see and do, so I filled him in.  He got out his laptop on the airplane and wrote down all my tips and ideas of good spots to see in Southern Ontario.  I also advised him on what to wear as he only had short-sleeved shirts and a leather jacket with him.   On the day that Jacob left to go back to India he found this serviette where I had written down for him that he should get a polar fleece jacket from The Bay to keep himself warm (too funny to see it after all these months). While Jacob did get himself some warmer clothes, it ended up being a record warm and unsnowy winter.  

As we were leaving the plane we exchanged email addresses.  In September we had Jacob over for dinner and went for a walk in a park near our home.  It was during our conversations that afternoon that we discovered that Jacob and my husband, Jonathan worked in the same office tower in Toronto - such a small world.  

In October we had Jacob over for Thanksgiving dinner at my parent's house so he could enjoy a traditional turkey dinner and pumpkin pie.  When Jacob saw the dinner he declared that it was " just like on the TV show Friends".   I think the things he liked the most about Thanksgiving were the pumpkin pie and going for a walk in the woods before dinner to enjoy the colourful fall leaves. Oh and did I mention the pumpkin pie - he LOVED the pumpkin pie!

In November, we went to watch the Cavalcade of Lights and enjoy the Christmas windows in Toronto.  It was there that Jacob learned that Santa's reindeer all had names. Who knew that that would be news!

We invited Jacob to join us for part of Christmas, but unfortunately he got sick so he came over when he was feeling better just after Christmas.  It was still in time to see all the Christmas decorations, the tree, and the lights on the houses around the neighborhood.  I'm afraid that once again we reminded him of the TV show Friends - it struck me as funny that Friends had formed such a big part of his view of North American culture.

One snowy weekend in January, we took him to the family cottage.  Jacob told me that this was one of his favourite memories of his time in Canada.  There were so many firsts during that weekend for someone from South India - lots of snow, walking on a frozen lake, tobogganing etc etc etc.   

Whenever you get people together from different cultures there are guaranteed to be funny moments - things that are lost in translation.  For example, Jacob volunteered to bring some fruit to the cottage so I asked him to bring a couple of grapefruit and was surprised to see that he brought grapes instead.  Apparently they don't have a word for grapefruit and just call them big limes (I think that was what he called them) so he thought I was just being a bit redundant by adding the word 'fruit' after the word 'grapes'.  He also told me later that he hadn't worn his seat belt the whole drive up to the cottage because he hadn't realized that you have to wear one in Canada and I hadn't noticed.  Thankfully we weren't in an accident.

Jacob thought our food was very bland although he was very polite about it (and I think by the end was getting used to it).  He did take a shine to pumpkin pie and he liked to have maple syrup on his french toast.   Around Christmastime I asked Jacob what they ate in his family for Christmas Eve dinner and he told me about Chicken Biryani.  I thought that sounded delicious so I asked him for the recipe.  Instead he found a boxed mix when he was out in an Indian shop in Toronto and gave that to me the next time he was over.  I wanted to cook it for a special occasion, so I saved it for our anniversary in February.  I cooked it very carefully following the directions and it looked and smelled delicious, however we couldn't eat more than a few bites because it was soooo spicy.  A few days later I cooked more rice and added more chicken and then we were able to enjoy it.  It does make me a little nervous about how spicy South Indian cooking is though - yikes!

It's funny how a chance occurrence of sitting beside someone on an airplane could lead to this unexpected friendship.  As Jacob so sweetly put it in his email to thank us before he left:  "Its amazing that amongst all  the memories that I cherish most from Toronto, you would occupy a big portion of the canvas".   When he came to dinner before he left, Jacob gave us a wonderful framed photo collage with pictures he had taken at Thanksgiving and at the cottage.

Jacob will likely be doing an extension of his contract in London, England over the next few months (lucky him - there's nothing like London in the spring).  Since Jonathan and I may be going to London and Scotland this summer we are hoping that we can all get together for a visit.  

We will be like the travelling gnome in Amelie.  

Do you remember Amelie's father's beloved garden gnome?  

Amelie, being a do-gooder, sends the gnome off with a flight attendant friend to have adventures all around the world in the hopes of enticing her father to travel.  Every week a photo arrives in her father's mailbox showing the gnome in another exotic city.

Crazy Dog T-shirts

I figure Jacob and I are like a couple of garden gnomes.  We popped up in Toronto,

and although we forgot to have our photo taken together at the cottage, we both popped up in the lovely snowy forest.

I have visions of us popping up in England in the summer when (or if) we cross paths and then maybe, just maybe, we will pop up in India in a few summers time.  What fun that will be!


Goodbye my airplane friend.  It was fun to introduce you to Canada.

Linked to WOW Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style,
Inspiration Friday at At The Picket Fence


  1. I have absolutely enjoyed your tale of two friends. I look forward to the next chapter where you shall meet again!

  2. How wonderful that a chance encounter led to a memorable friendship! You really did a great thing in giving Jacob so many varied Canadian experiences. I hope this isn't the end of your friendship story.

  3. What a lovely post and what a lovely Canadian hostess you are! He was very fortunate to have met you on the plane and introduced to our great country through your eyes. P.S. - I LOVE pumpkin pie too! Diane

  4. Grace, what a cute post. You are an amazing ambassador for Canada. I know that Jacob's stay was enhanced through y'all's friendship. (I really loved the story about the grapefruit)... :D

    Amelie is one of my all-time favorite movies. Gotta love it!

    Ricki Jill

  5. How wonderful that such a friendship could develop from an encounter on an aeroplane.
    I found you via Diane @ Cozy Canadian Cottage, and am now going to catch up on older posts.

  6. Such a special connection was obviously made on the plane that day. I love how we can come together with people and establish relationships that really illuminate the idea of the global village.

  7. I think it's those unexpected connections we make in life that are the most special sometimes. When paths cross for some unknown reason and you end up with a friendship when it's all said and done. You all made his time in Canada so very special and I hope you do get to see each other in the UK, or that would be exciting!

    Kat :)

  8. How nice for both of you to have met, but especially nice for him, because you are such a hospitable lady. Not just anybody would share a family holiday with a near stranger.
    If I'm ever new to a country, I hope I meet someone like you.
    I love Indian food, my hubby and I have learned to eat it very spicy.
    Have a great weekend,
    Hugs, Cindy