I wasn't going to blog today. I spent the morning packing for 6 weeks away -- I have an entire suitcase just for medicine! Then I went for a Valentine's Day lunch with my wonderful husband. It is a bit weird to be flying away for so long on Valentine's Day. The plan then was to occupy my brain with horrible daytime TV until it was time to go to the airport.
On the way home from lunch, a pop-up gallery had popped-up right across the street from my building. A board outside read:
One Day Only: For Sale, Ceramics and Hand-made Silks from Cambodia
Unbelievable. So, of course, I strolled in and looked around. It just so happened that we do, actually, need a sugar bowl, and lo and behold, there was a beautiful one just waiting to be bought. I picked it up and walked over to the woman behind the till.
'You are Cambodian, yes?" I asked.
'Yes, although I have been living in London on and off for many years." She looked about my age.
And then I told her, "Well, actually, I am flying to Cambodia tonight. I teach in Siem Reap every year."
'Siem Reap? How wonderful. My daughter lives in Siem Reap and runs a gallery there selling these goods from Nom Living. And she is having an opening on Saturday. You should go!' And then she picked up her phone and called her daughter, right there on the spot. The outcome of all this? The daughter, Louise, and I had a lovely chat and although I already have plans for Saturday night, and won't be able to go to the party, I know exactly where the gallery is and will visit it straight away. The mom and I then exchanged cards, stories of our lives. I gave her a postcard about A Clash of Innocents, and she said she would go out and buy it immediately -- and I believe her. And, as it turns out, when I told her I am starting to research about the Cambodian diaspora in Paris in the 1970's for my next novel, she told me that that was exactly what she and her family had done, escape Phnom Penh just before the Khmer Rouge and make their way to Paris. 'Our meeting today was meant to be,' we both said, and we promised to be in touch when I returned.
Then, to top it off, she insisted on giving me the sugar bowl for free, plus a wonderful Khmer scarf as a gift:
Mock me if you will, but I'm telling you, there is no such thing as a coincidence!
Next stop, Bangkok and dinner with Jenny Beattie, Helen Kara and Leigh Forbes.