Last supper with Chris
I met him a long time ago in Mexico. I saw him again in Peru, and ended up travelling with him for two months straight (making him my only real travelling companion on this trip). And I last saw him four months ago, back in Argentina. Today, I had yet another reunion with my buddy Chris: only this time, it was here in London, on his home soil; and since we're both going to opposite sides of the world very soon (and staying on those respective sides indefinitely), today's reunion really was our last (I'm serious this time — I swear). But before we parted for good, Chris and I had time for one last lunch. And since the food was some of London's finest Indian cuisine, there really wasn't anything sad about it at all.
Chris concluded his travels at the end of October last year, around the same time that I arrived here in Europe. He stayed in South America until the end — mainly in Argentina (he explored Patagonia extensively, the lucky bastard), but also briefly in Brazil. Chris is now back to life as usual: he's found a job with a tech company over in Washington DC, and he's doing some mobile application development with them. He's been hopping back-and-forth across the Atlantic continuously over the past two months or so: but from now on, it looks like he's going to be more-or-less staying permanently in The States.
Chris isn't terribly enamoured with his new job, and he's seriously itching to go travelling again. But sadly, it looks like that won't be happening again any time soon. He's also extremely jealous of the fact that I've been backpacking for the entire time since we last met; and he's quite envious of my final stop, which is coming up shortly: five weeks in Thailand. But then again, my trip is almost over; and when I return to Australia, I too will be diving head-first back into the Daily Grind™. So there's nothing to be all that jealous of, really. I'll be facing the same letdown that Chris now faces, not too far into the future: and hopefully I'll be able to deal with it better than Chris has done.
For our "last supper", Chris showed me over to an excellent Indian restaurant near Leicester Square, where they served us a large plate of mixed bits 'n' pieces (they called it "Indian tapas"). Chris insisted on paying, despite my insistence that I'm not (quite) broke (yet), and that this is my last day in a country where money has any real value. After the tucker, he introduced me to one of London's quirkier and less-known attractions: the photographic gallery in Piccadilly (admission free). All sorts of strange exhibits here, including a chronicle of photographs documenting Houdini's famous "paranormal laboratory". After that, we said a short goodbye (no point dragging it out), confident that we'll see each other again somewhere, someday. Probably.
On a related note: today's meet-up may have been good timing for a reunion with Chris — I only arrived in London two days ago, and I'm leaving this evening; while Chris also only arrived on Sunday (he was in Sweden over the weekend), and he too is leaving soon. However, I've also had incredibly bad timing, and hence have unfortunately been unable to meet up with two other people. First, my cousin Talia (who's lived in my home city of Sydney all my life) was in England until two days ago (i.e. until the day that I arrived), having arrived after several weeks of travelling through India. And second, my friend Raquel (who I've known as long as I can remember, and who's currently living in Ireland) was also here in England until two days ago, but she's now gone to Amsterdam for her winter break. Had I known — and had I known far enough in advance — I would have returned to England sooner, in order to catch up with everyone. But sadly, it was not to be. Not to worry: I'll see Talia and Raquel, along with everyone else from back home, when I get back (or else not too long thereafter).