It was just another cold November evening in Vancouver. I was at the train station holding a tiny cupcake in my hand, as I was returning from a work related party. It was Canadian Media Producers’ Association-BC’s 25th anniversary party. One of the party volunteers offered us these cute cupcakes, with a clapping board icing on it,just as me and my friend were stepping out. It was one of those too cute to be eaten cupcakes! I looked at it once again, and thought of taking it home for my husband.
Since I did not have a box to cover it, I decided to hold it in my hand all through my journey back home. I got into the skytrain station, and I think I took a train from Granville station to go to New Westminster. As I was entering the train, there were two other girls who stepped in with me. One of the girls asked me with a sense of genuine curiosity, “Is that a real cupcake that you are holding.” I said, “Yes!” She found that funny and seemed unsatisfied with that answer. I thought I should explain (and also because I enjoy picking random conversations with strangers). “Yes… I am taking it for my husband. It’s so cute, I want him to see it.” And that’s it, we started chatting.
She told me that this made her remember how her mother used to bring home a part of food that she ate outside, just to share it with everyone. And this rang a bell in my head too. I had never given it a thought as to why I have this habit of bringing food home. It took me back to the time when I was a little girl! I remember, as a little girl, when my father worked as an electrical repair and maintenance technician. He was pretty famous in the neighbourhood for his top quality work. The little girl in me used to think he was the best electrician in the whole world! He used to be flooded with calls, clients and jobs all the time. Some nearby establishments asked him to get into an annual maintenance contract. The most interesting of the contracts were the ones with restaurants. Since my dad always used to go that extra mile and help his clients with other (non-electrical) handy jobs, without charging them a dime; they used to insist on taking home a barter of freshly made bakery items, or some yummy new experiments from the kitchen. My dad being a foodie himself, he would graciously accept these offerings. But instead of eating it all by himself, he always used to bring it home. Not just this! Even when he visited someone and if they offered him a chocolate, brownie, laddoos, or anything; he would stuff it in the top left pocket of his bush-shirt and bring it home. I remember his pocket would always get those greasy stains from the oil or butter of the food he carried in it, but he obviously did not care. He loved bringing food home and sharing it with us. And I think that is what inspires me to bring food home to share.
The girl on my train and I shared these stories. We reflected on how our habits are a product of our upbringing. We laughed and soaked ourselves in the nostalgia of our parents. She then mentioned that she works for a recruiting firm in Vancouver and runs a non-profit called Women of Impact. I was impressed. She had a vibrant personality and a really affirming smile. She had very distinctive South Asian features, so I asked her if she was an immigrant, just like me. (Yes I can be a bit nosy too!) She briefly told me about her Fijian roots and how her family of Indian origin travelled to Canada and made this country a home. She was a second generation proud Canadian. I told her that I was an immigrant too and hoping to build a new life in this new country. She wished me luck and asked me to look her up on Instagram. My station arrived. The train stopped. The doors opened. And I still couldn’t find her on Instagram. She and her friend panicked. The doors might close and I might miss my station! I said I will make it. I found her on Instagram, checked the profile with her, and rushed out of the doors, just in time before they closed behind me. We laughed, looked at each other and said our good-byes through the window. The cupcake is still in my hand.
Cut to, May 2020. I am volunteering for a non-profit organisation called Community Tree. Our event was on a Thursday. On Saturday, we got to know that for some unforeseen reasons, our scheduled guest wasn’t going to make it. Our entire team came together, started exploring our individual contacts and networks, to see who would be the most appropriate expert to replace such a distinguished guest.
I, for once, do not have a huge network in this country. But I have remained in touch with whoever I have met. However small, my network is rock solid when it comes to helping me out in certain situations. I thought of the girl I had met on the train. Maybe she could help, I wondered. But I just couldn’t remember her name.
I browsed my Google photos and checked the date on the picture of the cupcake. Then I checked my messages on that date in my Instagram inbox.. (Mind you, the search does not have an easy user interface). I found her name. I figured she hardly uses her Instagram. Last post was many weeks old. Then, I looked her up on LinkedIn and finally touched base with her. She remembered me. And as we learnt more about each other, I learnt how accomplished she is; as a mentor, recruiting professional and trainer. She wasn’t my help to get to a new expert, she was my new expert for the event. She graciously agreed to help and did a wonderful job in sharing her knowledge about Resume and Cover Letter Writing. Her unique perspective about Canadian job markets and her expertise in recruiting, provided great insights to newcomers and job seekers at the virtual event.
I don’t know if this was about Networking or Connecting. I believe both are complementary to each other. She told me that she remembered me as the cupcake girl. To which I laughed! After the event I just wondered to myself, you just never know.