Posted on my Jacob's Blog, the Oulu Chaff Blog, the Mumbai Cathedral School Seventh Heaven Blog and the Delhi Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog.
Yesterday was Annikki's birthday. I had offered to take her to any restaurant of her choice in Oulu. We have an offering of several cuisines here: Algerian, Chinese, English, Finnish, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Moroccan, Thai, Turkish, Russian, US, Vietnamese, ...
But Annikki had other plans.
We started on a shopping expedition where she first went to he favourite Flea market and did some expensive shopping - maybe a couple of Euro!
Then we went to some small shops where she bought stuff for the house. Her next stops were two shops that were also celebrating their birthdays. We got free coffee/tea and cake for just visiting them.
Just then I had a call from Prof. Ajeet Mathur, a Cathedralite and Stephanian, like me, and also resident in south Finland. Ajeet said that he was on his way to Oulu and his plane should land around 6 pm. I told him I would pick him up from the airport.
Annikki told me rush back from the airport as her plan was to buy a pizza and go and sit on the beach and enjoy the sea breeze and the glorious sunset. She wanted a large open air restaurant and not be cooped up in a tiny one with no view in town!
I reached the airport at exactly 6 pm. There were a load of people coming off a plane. I noticed what looked like a foreigner waiting with a small placard identifying a conference, which I knew would be the one Ajeet would be headed for. I also noted a cameraman waiting to get a film of the arrival of Ajeet. Obviously, Ajeet was to be a distinguished speaker at the conference.
I positioned myself next to these two gentleman, who obviously had come for the same purpose - to receive Ajeet. I heard them conversing.
One said to the other that he was from Australia.
Always ready to break the ice, I asked him whether he knew our popular Australian CHAFF participant, Benjamin Hayes. The answer was in the negative, but with the formalities done away with, we struck up a conversation. He asked me where I came from. When I said Bangalore, India. Out of the blue, he said his parents were from Bangalore, India and they had left India at the time of Independence in 1947.
Then came a second shock as he said that his dad was from Bishop Cotton School, one of my alma maters.
I asked Alen his surname. Then came the even bigger surprise. His surname is Pembshaw.
Alen's dad used to come to Bangalore in the 70's very regularly. He would head straight to my dad's office as my dad was, at the time, the Chairperson of the Bishop Cotton Boys School Old Boys Association. My dad had passed out of school in 1926. Alen's dad was much junior to him.
I had met Alen's dad several times, as my office used to be in the same buolding!
As we were looking at the coincidence, the cameraman, whom I do not recall ever seeing in my life, turned to me and said that he knew my daughter, Joanna and also my wife. Apparently they go to the same church and his wife, a doctor, is a good friend of my daughter.
That was a string of coincidences which seemed outrageous to me!
Later, Annikki briefed me that Seppo Ahava is the husband of Maria, who is a doctor now and whom she has seen as a small girl in the church.
Ajeet arrived. As I am camera shy, I made myself scarce.
Usually Ajeet stays with me, but as the City of Oulu had organised this programme, he had been booked into a hotel. I took Ajeet to his hotel and organised that he spend the evening usefully.
I rushed home, picked up Annikki, picked up a pizza from a friends's pizzeria and headed to the beach. The sun was just setting and darkness was falling fast, but the glorious colours could still be seen.
It was extremely windy, so we sat in a shaded place and enjoyted our pizza.
There was no one around when we reached, as it was still drizzling, but before we finished our pizza, some kids and then some elderly people could be seen walking on the windy shores.
Before darkness finally set, we set off back for home, not accomplishing one part of Annikki's mission, to look for more stones to take home!
Coincidences and a windy pizza dinner on the beach were the mark of Annikki's birthday for this year. (Of course, there was cake when we got back home!)