Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Flight happening of the year

If you are used to living a life of dramas, it will hunt you down no matter where you are. Take this work trip to Sweden for instance –NOTHING out of the ordinary normally happens over here. That is, until I decide to take a tiny little propeller plane (felt like that) from Malmö’s mini-airport Sturup (it looks like 5 Hong Kong airport gates put together) to Stockholm. Not only is the flight 2 hours delayed (NEVER happens at this place! Still people were livid when they found out), but when we eventually get to board, I realize I am on the same flight as a Chinese performance group who’s been in Copenhagen performing for the Chinese embassy because of the CNY.

The airline is so tiny that they don’t even have designated seats for all passengers, so basically you can sit wherever you like. As a result, the Chinese group (which was quite big) spread out completely (don’t ask me why), yelling to each other to come over with a bag/hairspray/bottle of water/god knows what. I end up sitting next to an old Beijing lady and I obviously can not help myself –I have to chat to her, causing her to have a minor fit when she realizes that the blonde giant next to her can actually speak Mandarin!

First I am bombarded by questions:

-Where did you learn Chinese?
-Have you been to Beijing?
-Do you think Beijing is better than Shanghai?
-What’s the name of this airport?
-What’s the name of this airline?
-What are they saying now (every single time there was a message from the air stewardess/captain)?
-Why were we delayed?
-Do we get a meal on this flight?
-Why are all Swedish girls so tall?
-Are you married?

Then, she calms down, frowns at her free meal (sandwich and a chocolate -that we get simply as a compensation because of the delay –you normally don’t get meals on low-budget, 1 hour flights in Sweden) and fall asleep.

By then, however, I have managed to catch the attention of another Chinese group member: a huge shaolin monk who sit at the opposite line. I thought was busy trying to take pictures of the pretty air stewardess. He spends the rest of the flight staring at me, not saying anything.

Once we land the rumour had spread, and every single Chinese person on the flight (quite a bunch let me tell you) want to become my friend. I am in a hurry so I excuse myself and get off, hoping my bag will turn up quickly. As I stand at the baggage claim waiting, I suddenly hear someone say:

-Is that you, Jonna?!

I look up and see that it's in fact Erik –a guy that went to the same basketball collage as I did.. back in 1999! I haven’t seen him since I was 17! We just stare at each other until he finally says:

-So, eh… What have you been up to for the last 10 years?!

Around the same time as he asks me this, the Chinese group arrives at the baggage claim, and when they see me, they all yell: “oh, there’s Jonna!” run over, starts asking me questions, taking my photo, and so on. We all speak Chinese and I can see Erik’s face expression going from confused to very confused (one thing’s for sure, back at our basketball days I did not speak a lick of Chinese).

Once my bag turn up I say goodbye to the Chinese group (this is after some crucial name-card exchange –their tour guide is especially keen on keeping in touch with me. He speaks fluent Swedish and lives in Malmö! Funny) I see Erik watching me in awe.

-Want a lift to the city? I think you have some life updating to do!

So there we are, Erik, me and Erik’s little brother (who was on the same flight as me, that’s the reason Erik was at the airport) in the car, laughing and chatting. Until I remember that back at the basketball collage we were not actually good friends. I think, in fact, that Erik was one of those guys that I did not like!

I suppose when you add 10 years, an airport terminal, and a group of Chinese performances things change!


Barry Wah Lee said...

great read.

Pete In Syracuse said...

That's neat to see time soften relationships & to be able to reconnect & build a friendship with people in our past. That certainly was a divine appointment Jonna, and even though you were short of time to be able to speak & have a chinese fan club in the mix was fun...wasn't it?

Don Tai said...

That's quite a story. It must have really freaked out your friend and his brother. Chinese is no doubt very useful.

Hans Li Engnell said...

Do I dare to quess that it was the same Chinese performance group that I saw at Kulturhuset in Stockholm recently? They were going to Oslo the day after so they probably flew to Copenhagen as well. They were quite good, btw.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Barry -thanks :) It was a fun day. Especially when I thought about it all afterwards!

Pete -It was great fun. So many funny things happen when u speak Chi. A whole new world opens up.. hihi!

Don Tai -sure is. I'm so happy I decided to learn it!

Hans -not sure. They didn't mention Norway or Olso, and I got a feeling they had only been here for a short time.. but who knows? That shaolin monk was quite intimidating!

TG said...

That was a funny experience. I wish I was as fluent in Chinese as you. I can speak just a little and people are already surprised. I wonder how would they look, if I had your knowledge :)

Jonna Wibelius said...

MKL -I remember when I was where u r now! Just keep studying and you'll get there! My Chinese is far from perfect or even great, but I love the fact that I can now communicate! :)

Anonymous said...

love to read ur posts!

Anonymous said...

"Blonde Giant". lol, Jonna you are funny. I like your style.