Sunday, January 20, 2008

New York, Congo, Family, Chubo

There are short moments in life that one would enjoy freezing in time, and living them over and over again, at least for a little while. Yesterday's celebration of my aunt Therese's 60th birthday was one of those moments for me. We had family and friends gathered in Long Island (that's a suburb of New York, for those out there who don't know), at my cousin's house, and there were people from at least 10 countries, on five continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America), and it was simply the kind of free-flowing celebrations that reminds one of the importance of family, friends, caring for one another, and keeping the flame of conviviality burning at all times. My aunt was ecstatic at all the guests we managed to gather, and all in all these were good times.

Another of these moments occurred today. Today, I got to meet a wonderful friend of mine... that I had never met! Well, I mean, not in person, since we met online, in this wonderful world of blogs. Kim used to live in Congo - my country - and maintained a blog on his life working in Congo with the UN, and later on with other organizations. Since I was also maintaining my own blog on Congo, we kind of met each other, and kept in touch, and finally got to meet, in New York City, at an impressive little restaurant in East Village (South-East Manhattan) called Chubo, which I discovered today (and where I will go again!!!). Not only did I get to meet Kim, but I also met a group of other wonderful people who worked in Congo around the same time as Kim, some of which I had already heard of through Kim, and some of which - like Lionel - also maintain their own blogs. I was quite nervous, because I wanted to make a good impression on all of them, and so, as it happens to me in those cases, I over-compensated... by talking too much! But it turned out okay, and it did so because this was a group of nice, kind, like-minded people, from different horizons, who happened to have the Congo in common. I am quite grateful to Kim for giving me the opportunity to meet this great group of people.

It is funny how this world works sometimes. I mean Kim turned out to be exactly how I imagined he would be ( EXACTLY!!: tall, thin, funny, smart, mundele :) ), and I really wish things had worked out a little better so that we would have had some more time to hang out, talk about Congo, solve all the world's problems in one day, etc... but oh well. That will be for next time, right? No, what I am more upset about is that in a meeting of at least 3 bloggers, including one who is a professional photographer, we did not even begin to think to take any picture - not one - of this unique gathering of monumental importance (okay, I am exagerating, but it was important to me!). I mean what are the chances? Between Lionel, Kim and myself, someone should have thought of that!!! That just means we have to do this again.

But this gathering shows me the power of an open mind, an open heart... and New York City! The number of people one can end-up meeting in new York is phenomenal. With little effort, one can interact with a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-national, multi-faith group of people. And when one is simply open enough to tap into the people they meet, by design or by chance, the connections and affinities that you will discover with one another will simply blow your mind!! I guess that is why the Spanish-language radio MEGA 97.9 calls New York - quite ostentatiously, I might add - El centro del mundo (The center of the world).