I arrived in Auckland, NZ at 0950 on Sunday Jan 29 after a 13-hour flight, 10 of which were spent unconscious. Good trip even in coach w/ a couple of meals and pretty comfy seats.
After clearing customs I walked out of the terminal to meet Khalid Shafar. Rewind: less than two whirlwind weeks ago I went back to my college campus to say goodbye to some friends and I ran into a past college professor. Told him about my trip, and, “hey, I have a friend in Auckland, I’m sure you can stay with him.” Connection: Khalid.
So Khalid is just a great guy. He is a designer from Dubai who has temporarily relocated to New Zealand to pursue his designing career. Prior to that he was a high-level business executive for one of the biggest and most prestigious companies in the Middle East. He opted to leave his past career to pursue his true passion, building his brand and product from scratch: http://www.khalidshafar.co.nz/.
After picking me up at the airport we head to his flat in the central business district (CBD) in Auckland. He’s got a spare bedroom set up for me with a bed, towels, amenities, a key to the place and everything I could need. Talk about getting spoiled on my first stop – not gonna be this lucky in 90% of the places I visit this year.
Khalid and I have had a marvelous time. He showed me around Auckland and we’ve spent time the past several days eating, getting coffee and talking about things from business, career, travel, relationships, family…you name it. Turns out we have a lot in common, even quite a few OCD tendencies.
After a few days in New Zealand it’s starting to set in that after years of talking about it, I’m here. I’m in it, right now. But really, it’s still kinda like just another trip, like hundreds before. I’m in another big city, finding my way around and doing pretty normal things.
A few noteworthy comments: 1. Can I please get a proper-size cup of coffee? After three tries I still haven’t managed to get a cup with more than a shot’s worth of the good stuff. 2. Canadiens are not fond of the good game, I’ve learned. 3. At the Auckland museum, among many other interesting things, I saw the ice-axe that Sir Edmund Hillary used during his historic first ascent of Mt. Everest. Awesome. Plenty of other interestings but I’ll leave it at that for now.
In 45 minutes Khalid is taking me to the airport where I’m flying to Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand, which has suffered devastation over the past 1.5 years due to a series of large earthquakes. I have my first service project lined up for tomorrow, which I’m excited about.
In closing, the highlight so far has been hanging out with Khalid. We’ve become fast friends and I have no doubt we’ll stay connected and meet again somewhere down the road. A great example on my first stop of meeting someone, from a world away from mine, who I would have never met or connected with otherwise. A good sign of things to come no doubt.
Have you ever met someone unexpectedly who became a great friend?.