poitu varam

THE CHRONICLES OF A FLEDGLING MISSIONARY CALLED JOLLYBEGGAR "i still gaze fondly at all of the pictures, drink ginger beer, bunch my food, listen to punjabi dj tunes, play my dholki, wear my sarong (around the house only because in canada it is still really uncommon for a man to wear a wraparound skirt in public) and speak way too much of the differences between east and west..."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

leaving toronto is apparently harder

august 10: day 1: wednesday (continued)
while sitting in a restaurant at pearson, i began talking to a quiet young guy and his outspoken sister. for my part, i shared my mission and a bunch of familiy stuff, travel stuff etc... they are going on a family holiday to hitch-hike across europe... their fifty year-old mom is also part of the gig- cool.

i sure find younger people easier to talk with.
eventually i hooked up with dan after having a very dry pizza and two wet ricks over the course of about three hours' wait outside the actual terminal. riel had given me a guest pass to the maple leaf lounge at pearson airport, terminal A, but because the lounge is inside the terminal, i was required to have my boarding pass which eventually arrived when dan did at about 5:00. luckily there was this restaurant and an interesting pair of canadian soon-to-be hitch-hikers-through-europe to talk to.

dan's ticket had been cancelled somehow (turned out that everyone's but mine had been. the hassles attached to the original booking of the tickets would plague us all the way to heathrow on the return...)

note: look very closely at person in the cap to dan's right... camera comes out- hand goes up.
kinda funny that the guy next to her doesn't know who he is seated beside...

hassles in the ridiculously long qeue were forgotten when we spotted shania twain (actually there was not much spotting involved- she was in line beside dan, travelling as mrs lang) wearing a bright red ball cap. risking looking (and behaving) like paparazzi stalkers, we worked up and executed a plan whereby we fired off a picture with her in the background... covering her face. amazing that a person will work so hard for recognition and then spend the rest of his or her life trying to escape it. she lives in zurich, switzerland now to avoid crowds and is smaller than she looks in pictures and on t.v... however, dan said that she had a special glow, nonetheless.
a word or two about dan, as observed and noted by his relatively new friend, jollybeggar:
dan is the global ministries guy for the free methodist church in canada. having grown up in a home that often billeted missionaries on furlough (if there can be such a thing... they were either working abroad or touring the country to sequester support for the work that was to be done abroad) he had seen again and again what accepting the call of God to one's life could entail. for this reason, he didn't sign on the dotted line with God until he was prepared to do so for real.

acceptance of God's offer did, in fact, take him exactly where he imagined it would. he's been all over the world and is one of the most culturally sensitive people i've ever met... almost to the extent that he has become transcultured, occasionally caught between cultures speaking everyone's and no-one's language simultaneously.

one of the most interesting things about my friend is his quiet lack of direction. oh, he knows exactly where he is going and what needs to be done, having planned to the nth degree at least five to ten steps ahead of the present. i say 'lack of direction' in terms of how he sometimes directs (but never misdirects) others. as far as i can tell, it works like this:

it all comes down to what you need or want from an experience. if you think to ask for direction or guidance, he is a deep well of both. however, if you don't ask, the presumption is made that you either already know these things, or will learn them in the course of the cross-cultural experience. either way, in the end you will have the weapons in your arsenal to deal with similar circumstances in the future.

he is, of course, not doing the passive-agressive 'well you didn't ask' thing, for he's always got your back. no, i think it's just that he really values and respects the wisdom that comes with being in charge of one's own growth and learning.

for someone like me who tends to process everything out loud, someone like dan enables someone like me to do so in the context of a supportive relationship condusive to self-directed learning. traveling with this guy was awesome, and i really missed him when, later on in the trip, he left the team for a number of days to 'kill two birds yada yada' by heading off to bangkok to do some business there while 'in the neighbourhood.'

however, i must also say that you do wonder from time to time just what he is thinking and why he is smiling right now...

in the plane, there were all these hilarious london teens traveling together. listening to them was just totally entertaining (although it did get a bit old as the flight wore on.) they spotted my pink floyd t-shirt: "PINK FLOYD RULES! i've got a limited edition dark side of the moon in pristine condition! it's even got both posters and both stickers- it cost me $30 canadian- yer wanna see it? i've also go night at the opera by queen in its original white- not the black that's easy to get!" (not exactly an audiofile, but good company. i didn't have the heart to correct him on the night at the opera/ day at the races mixup... why bother?)

we left for heathrow totally late, having had to remove "sammy u-something's" unattended luggage from the plane before departure.

a pile of really funny announcements and apologies concerning bad weather and terminal hassles were reminiscent of flying westjet with one simple difference: these blundering explanations were for real. something about somebody parking a plane in the wrong parking spot...

finally leaving sometime between 11 and 11:30 p.m., we crossed the atlantic at approximately 56 degrees north. we were told we'd be flying over ireland, manchester, liverpool and london.

the departure video had a whole pile of tech glitches and eventually the flight attendants had to present the departure information the old way- it was clear that they were out of practice: one girl basically did all the demonstrating while another thumped through the reading of the material and a third just stood there looking pretty, but awkward.


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