Who says the world isn’t a friendly place? Having lived in thirteen countries on five continents, we met kind and wonderful people everywhere. You don’t even need to speak the same language to become good friends.
When we were stationed in Kampala, Uganda, I had two neighbors. On my right was an East Indian couple. The wife could only speak her native tongue so we never could never really talk to each other. I had not yet learned how to play bridge or tennis so was at home a lot. We would wave to each other and we would go to each others’ homes and usually ended up in the kitchen teaching and cooking for each other. She had a big kitchen but completely without furniture, so we sat on the floor on straw mats. On one side of the kitchen there was a huge stack of shelves divided by many little cabinets where she kept her Indian spices to make curry. She also had a heavy stone mortar and pestle. I realized then that curry powder was a little different in each Indian home, depending on the cook’s choice of ingredients. She would mix a little of this and a little of that and throw it in the mortar and then with her pestle she would pound it into powder for the delicious curry she was preparing that day. Certainly not the same as buying curry paste or powder in a bottle! She taught me how to make Naan, and Puri and Indian deserts. We had a wonderful time gesturing and laughing. Some days she would come to my house and I would show her how to use my Chinese cleaver to slice and dice the ingredients that go into Chinese cooking. I even showed her how to make Chinese spring roll skins. We would leave my kitchen in one big mess which did not make John, my houseboy, very happy. This lasted for over two years; I have not forgotten her and I am sure she thinks of me when cooking Chinese meals.
On our left was an American couple who also worked for the Embassy. One summer their son, Danny, who was 17 years old, came to visit. We became good friends immediately. When the men went to the Embassy, Danny would come over and visit me. He had rented a beautiful Harley Davidson for his means of transportation. One day he took me for a ride. At 75 mph, I felt that my head would fall off or I would lose all my hair. It was scary but lots of fun. I had a brand new gold convertible Corvair, and when I went shopping I would put the top down, and Danny would ride his cycle behind me acting as my security guard. Everyone would stop to stare at us, which we found very amusing. When Kasalina, the nanny for my two small children, Jeffrey and Leslie, had to take the day off, Danny would come over and be their baby sitter. He was always so patient with them, playing hide and seek, riding Leslie’s tricycle, making funny faces and joking until the kids would be giggling with delight. Of course Danny left when the summer was over to go back to the USA to begin college.