There is a saying that there is no bad luck. That someone from up there puts us in the right place, at the right time, for a reason. Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?
I do. But why was I then at the Brussels airport on March 22 when the terrorist attack happened? The answer came in the form of a man who slept in a bed next to me. He wore a black hat.
“It always happens when not expected. Run from love and it will catch you. It will come insidiously and suddenly you’ll have that fuzzy feeling”, Greg said.
I was drinking my Vietnamese coffee in small sips, listening to Greg and watching scooters pass by. If someone knows a word or two about love, then it’s him.
“Do you think some can be immune to it?” – I asked him.
He gave me „the look“ and nodded with his head.
“What do you want to have today?” – my “smoothie lady” asked me every day while already pulling my favorite fruits from the refrigerator.
“You choose! I trust you” – I’d tell her and be delighted every time.
“Let’s start with passionate fruit, your favorite”.
“Sit and smile”
Because of this woman, Jirawan Chaidoungkaew, and her magical smoothies, I will remember Chiang Mai. Visiting her fruit stand in front of her home became my favorite routine while staying in the city.
I stumble upon it accidentally, when leaving the Thai massage salon run by the former female prisoners just across the street. I needed refreshment and saw the sign “Sit and smile”, as well as the names of the fruits I’ve never heard of or even tasted before, like passionate fruit and dragon fruit.
Not that I was just buying refreshing and healthy smoothies for 30 Baht, but I was always greeted with a smile and no money can buy the feeling of being truly welcomed.
– Hi, I am Fred. I’m Canadian.
His shirt was green as our bed curtains in a night train to Chiang Mai.
– Hi, I am Ivana and I am from Croatia. Do you know where that is?
– Oh, I know. I’ve never been in Eastern Europe though – Fred said.
Stranger in the night
After two weeks in Bangkok, it was time to leave. The Road called me. And the Road knows. When the boat started moving, my heart started blossoming. I was waiting for some kind of excitement but all I could acknowledge was calmness. Bangkok wasn’t the place that could silence my longing for what never quiets – the wanderlust. Will Chiang Mai succeed in this game of taming, I asked myself.
“I love to travel – Fred started talking. – But I won’t be able to sleep. Trains, buses, planes.. I never sleep”.
His movements were slow. Gracious. I could see that his eyes have seen more than he remembers, whilst his skin was touched by the places I can still only dream of.
„Let’s be honest. You are just a girl from a Balkan country. Your CV is incredible for a young person but unfortunately you’re not from Spain or Ireland. You are from the Balkans, therefore you can forget about the job”.
I am from the Balkans? Where is that? I thought I was Croatian. Do I worth less?
Questions were running through my head as I was walking from this, obviously, unsuccessful job interview for a position within international company. Tears were filling my eyes though I didn’t know exactly why. It was the first time someone addressed me as a “Balkan girl”.
I didn’t know what that means though it made me feel bad by the way it was said. What hurts the most, these words came out from a Croatian guy.