18 July 2010

Coincidences in Shanghai

We’ve all been there from time to time.  A chance meeting in a random location throws you together with someone with whom you have a common friend.  It really annoys me when someone then says, “It’s a small world, isn’t it?”  No it fucking isn’t, try walking around it, then tell me that.

Anyway, just to contradict myself slightly, I had one of those moments while in Shanghai.  Audrey and I were staying at the BeeHome hostel.  I’d spoken to James Ryan (a friend of mine who lives in Shanghai who I’d mentioned in the previous blog) the day we arrived, and he was to send me details of where we could meet up the next evening.

It got to 2pm the next day, and I’d still got nothing from him.  Audrey and I were relaxing in the hostel, as that’s the worst time of day to be out.  We got speaking to a couple of blokes in the chill out room.  One of them was from Taiwan, the other from the states.  Discussions got on to plans for the rest of the day, and the guy from the states, Dustin (couldn’t get Hoffman/autism out of my head from there on in) said he was meeting up with friends.  I told him I was hopefully doing the same, but my mate still hadn’t sent me through any details.  I mentioned my mate had an exhibition on at the Expo.

“So does mine”, said Dustin, “What’s his name?”
“James Ryan.”
“That’s who I’m going to meet at 6.”

The usual ‘wows’, and ‘how unexpected is that?’ etc., started to be muttered by everyone.  I decided to tag along with old Dustin (he looked like a naive kid fresh out of Uni, found out later he was 32).  James later claimed he’d been working harder than Foxconn employee, and hadn’t time to get any info to me.

We had painful journey to meet up with him.  An almighty mess up by Dustin, meant we got off two tube stops from the hotel we were to meet James at.  Dustin had been there before, but it turns out he’d got a lift from a friend where we exited the tube to the hotel (something he realised after we’d been walking around for 20 minutes).  James seemed to give Dustin an ear-bashing on the phone (although that’s just the way he is) when he called for directions, and Dustin wasn’t keen on calling him back to get further instructions, so we settled for using randoms on the street.

Eventually, we arrived about 45 minutes late, but were the earliest of everyone who was due to be there.  We stood around waiting, chatting for a while, and we regaled our story of the random hostel meeting.

“Actually, I thought you’d recognised each other”, assumed James.
“Eh?”, we both questioned.
“In Hangzhou, 6 years ago”, explained James.

As he said that hazy memories of an enormous binge started coming back to me.  I’d went down to Hangzhou, a couple of hours from Shanghai, to visit James (he lived there back then) and my next door neighbour from back in Macknagh (somewhere between the mighty metropolises of Swatragh and Maghera).  They’d met in the Irish pub (shock horror) in that town, and had, ‘amazingly’, found a common acquaintance in me (and my brother Niall).

We all met up in the Irish pub, as we do, for a few beers on the Wednesday evening.  It had been good craic with the few people that were in the pub, and as the pub kicked us out, Karl, my neighbour, suggested a few more drinks back at his.  We were all at the stage were ‘no’ had been expunged from our vocabulary.

We got back there, and the brandy, whiskey and I can’t remember what else, all came out.  I was wasted by the end (and I assume the others were).  Over the years, I’d occasionally thought of that session, and that I had always remembered us being four, with a quietly spoken extra in there somewhere.  Dustin was the extra


Ada said...

What small world! I had a similar experience too yesterday when a uni friend is now going out with a girl, who happens to be the ex girlfriend of a friends ex-housemate. Took a while to figure the connections...

King prawn said...

What a small world indeed (No it fucking is'nt, wanker - Stephen).