Thursday, September 13, 2007

Global Serendipity

“It’s a small world” is more than an annoying song; it’s a cliché that holds true more often than not. Never have I been more supportive of this notion than in Tanzania. When I left Dar es Salaam, my one friend and co-worker encouraged me to contact his brother in Arusha. When Robert, my Safari guide mentioned that he was Chugga, a tribe from Moshi in the North of Tanzania, I had to ask him an unlikely question:

Robert, I asked, do you know many other Chuggas in Arusha? Yes, really? Do you happen to know any by the last name of X? Yes, really? Wow. Well, now this is a longshot, but what about Y as the first name. What, you went to school with him? Do you have his phone number or contact information? No, but you have known him for 15 years! That is crazy. So he is a former national team rugby player, and the one person in Africa, and a city of half a million that we have in common? Incredible. I have his contact info, so I’ll call him, and maybe we can all go out together. You can reunite.

Last night Emanuel and Robert and I had two rounds together next to a live band in an Arusha pub. It was a fantastic evening of laughter, excitement at the serendipity, and appreciation for coincidence. Our intersection was an affirmation of optimism. It was a vote for idealism, for unliklihood and longshots, and it was the world telling us all that life makes sense in defined moments. It also underscored the satisfaction in bringing two sides together, and reaching an accord of unlikely unity. It was the impossible idea that I could travel to Africa, meet two people in remote corners of Tanzania who knew a third man in common. It was the impossible notion that I could reunite two friends after 15 years apart, when I was a world away, alone in sub-Saharan Africa. It was an immensely satisfying feeling.

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