KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
As I mentioned in my previous post, we were delighted to receive a surprise email from the daughter of a distant cousin who lives just outside of Edmonton. We made arrangements to meet up with Christa and her husband Chris. They were staying in a small hotel on the diagonally opposite side of sprawling Addis Ababa. They chose the hotel because it is located across the street from the hospital where Christa had come to work for a couple of weeks as part of her medical training in Canada.
It was difficult to explain exactly where our hotel was located, so we weren’t surprised when Christa called us on her mobile and told us they had left the taxi at the large traffic circle near the Bet Medhane Alem Cathedral, not far from where we were staying. I suggested they walk along the cathedral side of the street, in the direction of the airport, and that we would walk towards them and meet up along the way.
Although we had never met before, and neither of us had any idea what the other looked like, it wasn’t hard to spot the two very tall, blond-haired Canadians, in a sea of much shorter Ethiopians, walking along the street. We had a very warm and affectionate meeting, despite the fact that we were complete strangers. I think we were all pleased to see someone from home, and the fact that we were related made it even more special.
We ducked into a nearby café and sat for some time chatting away and getting to know each other a little. Chris filled us in on his background a little; he’s completed his undergraduate degree and is currently studying to be a teacher. He hopes to work in Special Education, and we immediately thought of putting him in touch with my sister’s husband Duncan McColl, who has worked for many years in Special Education for the Edmonton Public School Board.
Over the course of the afternoon, we were surprised time and time again at the strange connections we seem to have with Christa and Chris. Chris happened to attend the private Calvary Christian School that is located in Millwoods, just a stone’s throw from where we lived for 17 years in the Keegano Housing Co-op. His family lived in Hillview, not far away from us in Richfield, and now Duncan McColl is the principal of Hillview Elementary School.
When we mentioned that our children went to a private school as well, and explained that Anil had started out as a teacher at Tempo School and eventually became the Principal, Chris asked if we knew one of his best friends, David Obert. He knew that David had gone to Tempo, and it turns out that we had all just learned that David has recently been awarded a Rhodes scholarship. It’s a small world indeed.
We also learned that Christa and Chris had met each other when they both attended King’s College in Edmonton. To their surprise, not only were their names so very similar, they were both born on the same day in October. It’s a good thing that they were born in different years or there would be even more confusion regarding their legal documents during their life together!
We took Chris and Christa back to our small hotel and showed them what we consider to be our simple but comfortable room. They were over the moon with all the comforts we enjoy; their hotel is definitely in the budget category and doesn’t even supply them with hot water. It made me think once again about my first trip to Ethiopia and about how I roughed it way back then. One of things I remember is trying to cope with cold-water showers during the coldest months of the year, high on the Ethiopian plateau at 2,500m (8,000ft) above sea level. I have to hand it to these fine young people; they’re not spoiling themselves on this adventure at all.
The afternoon passed so very quickly and before we knew it the sun had set and we were all getting a little hungry for dinner. I had suggested that we all go to the Elfin Traditional Restaurant nearby where we could get some terrific Ethiopian food and watch the great dancing performed by a troupe of six young dancers. Christa had seen such dancing when she had come to work in Ethiopia a couple of years earlier, and she was hoping that there would be a chance for Chris to enjoy it before it was time for him to leave. While Christa had come to work for two weeks, Chris had to return to his studies after the holidays were over.
We had a great meal and a great time at the restaurant and while we were eating we made plans to spend a day with Chris, touring some of my old haunts in Addis Ababa and visiting some places that might be of interest to him as well. I think Christa was relieved that he wouldn’t be entirely on his own while she was busy at the hospital.
We would have liked to spend more time with him, but we had booked plane tickets and made hotel reservations to tour what is known as the historical circuit before we received their email. We were leaving for Lalibela on Saturday morning, and Chris would fly home later Saturday evening. We were glad to be able to spend Thursday getting to know him a little bit better.