Canteen conversations

The mandatory opportunity of an hour lunch break gives you the time to eat, ponder and wander, with still time to spare! One of the things I do love doing is lunching at the canteen. It’s such a novelty as I’ve never experienced it at work in Australia. The menu is actually nice, rarely repeats and is reasonably priced. But more than the food, it’s the experience that I truly delight in:

There are three possible scenarios when lunching at the canteen:

  1. You lunch by yourself so you take your time with your food, you focus on it and truly unwind.
  2. You join your colleagues or they’ll spot you and call you over, and you enjoy the meal with wonderful conversation as you all take a break from work together.
  3. You join a communal table because it’s busy and sit with complete strangers and then someone starts a conversation.

The third scenario is by far the most surprising and exciting. One of my favourite lunch sessions was with a table of three other strangers. It all started with the simple question: “So where are you from?” which invited a complex answer. I was relieved that for a change it wasn’t directed at me but I was curious. How do others like me answer this humble question? The lady in question sighed then smiled at the gentleman who had posed the question to her, “I really don’t know how to answer that in a simple way” but she forged on and dared to share. She was of Iranian descent, had grown up in the US but for the last ten years had been living and working in England and was now in the process for pursuing her British citizenship. She looked over at me and said, “We’re actually citizens of the world, right?”.

So our conversation began and as it turned out all four of us had multiple identities.  We dived deep into topics such as belongingness, life as an expat, globalism and world politics. Such a delightful conversation; before we knew it, an hour had passed. And as if like a flash mob, we bid farewell and dispersed, each one of us taking our own path, taking back only a memory of a delightful conversation.

***

Photo: Green tea matcha cake from the canteen – perfect way to wrap-up a lovely lunch

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