I just wanted to eat some dumplings. I had been looking forward to that all day. However, the evening came to an unexpected end.
Jam-packed. Both restaurants that I had chosen. This is my last evening in Chiang Mai for the time being – and my last evening with dinner for a while. The next day I will go to meditate for a week in a Buddhist temple. And there is no food after noon. But no wonder that all restaurant tables are occupied: locals and tourists celebrate the Chinese New Year on January 25th.
I wander a little aimlessly through the already dark streets, only illuminated by the orange light of the lanterns – until I notice a young cook who has set up his wok in the front of a café. I‘m curious and watch him toss chicken and fresh green beans in a marinade. Mmm … looks delicious. But he shakes his head. “This is the staff meal,” he tells me. Well, stupid. I take a seat in the small shop anyways and order a couple of dumplings and a beer.
More and more young Chinese and Thai people in their mid to late 20s are coming to the café, looking curiously into the wok, filling rice in bowls, roasting chicken liver and shrimps, fishing for a piece from the wok with their chopsticks, adding some seasoning with great gesture and lots of love. Bowl after bowl full of fragrant food wander into the back room. I’d love to be part oft he staff, I think, and I’m just swallowing the last bite of my dumpling when one of the young Thais sits down at my table. They are all classmates, he explains, most of them are studying English and want to become teachers. I‘m a welcome opportunity to try the language in practice. And tonight they are celebrating the start of the new year together, he says while one of his friends joins sitting with us.
Each of them cooked a dish, reports the young Thai. I have to think of the Chinese students who invited me to dinner in Toronto. Here, too, everyone contributed their own dish. Seems like a kind of tradition. It also seems to be a tradition that people are simply invited to join the meal.
“Just eat with us,” say my new Thai friends, and I soon have a bowl, chopsticks and another glass of Chang beer in my hand. A man from Switzerland also joins the group. We clink glasses, say Ganbei, Chiyo and Cheers. Bowls are passed around. “Have you already tried it”, asks one of the young women and presents a bowl of chicken liver in vegetables and sauce.
Well, what can I say? I’m actually already full. But of course I can’t resist all the wonderful smells. Fortunately, because the food is sooo delicious.
It is getting late this evening. I tiredly walk back to the hostel at some point, walk beer-lively past the Thapae Gate and enjoy the warm evening air. How lucky I am, I think. What an extraordinary evening. The universe means well with me again. Thank you.
Random Acts of Kindness
During my travels I have learned two things:
1. Those who have the least often give the most.
2. There are friendly people everywhere.
There is always a story behind selfless action. It deserves to be told and collected as Random Acts of Kindness.
Inspired by @TheKindnessGuy