Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Time Travelling - Blame it on Saduk

Fall 2009 started like any other, except that my sister was coming to visit me for the first time in my 24 years in the US. Strangely, in October 2009, the stars may have been in some kind of alignment that took me back 24 years because around that time, I got a Facebook friend request from Amin Saduk, my colleague at Singapore Airlines from the early 1980s. And, so began, my Austin Powersesque time travel back to the eighties.

As my sister and I reminisced about old times, old friends, I mentioned that I would love to get back in touch with Rajpal Salgado, my former close friend from Singapore Airlines. My sister used to know Rajpal's uncle and his wife. My reminiscing must have sent telepathic signals around the world, because pretty soon, I was flooded with friend requests and Skype contacts from my SQ "family."

By accepting friend requests, I was also able to find others who also belonged to this "first work family" because Singapore Airlines was my first real job. I grew up a lot, learned through mistakes - my own and those of others. But, what I learned most of all, was the true gift of friendship and the distance friends would go for each other. My biggest mentor was Amal Fernando, but unfortunately, before I could re-establish contact, I learned that he had left Singapore Airlines and next thing I heard was that he had passed on. I was teleported to happier times when Amal was full of laughter and advice and took charge of any situation. Times when he went out of his way to help friends, acquaintances and even strangers without expecting anything in return. My memories became tinged with regret, tinged with joy that I had shared a friendship with a person of the caliber of Amal, who represented the best in all of us. As I smiled through my tears, I was glad that Michael and I had met him during my two visits back to Sri Lanka.

Singapore Airlines was my training ground - I joined as a single girl - an inexperienced hopeful who had not ventured beyond the shores of my birth land and had never stayed out a night without family. When I left Singapore Airlines, I was a graduate of life - a world traveler, a public speaker, someone who had handled the publicity for this airline in Colombo, a radio DJ, a television news anchor, a bride, a mother. Throughout my metamorphosis, I had my cheering squad of colleagues, who were sincere in their criticism and their praise. My deep friendships helped me become a confidante and a mentor as well. We had our differences like any "family" would - but our bonds were strong.

I did get back in touch with Rajpal, as well as Ricci, Dilanie, Dilli, Rajitha, Hafeez, Yasmin, Sharmala, Shiranka, Amal's son, Maya, Becky, Juthika, Deannath, Jaliya, Joan, Manju. Blame in on Saduk for starting this global outreach and trips down memory lane that forced me to dig up my archives of photos and memorabilia of those times, so our kids can either laugh or cry at those images.

We had some great parties! Celebrations of birthdays, weddings, farewells, holidays, awards, promotional events. We hobnobbed with Ministers, Reporters, Ambassadors, the Who's Who of the Travel Trade and Government Authorities and we danced till dawn. We even got involved in "Spread a Little Happiness" campaigns, giving underprivileged kids the times of their lives and attended funerals of family members as we helped each other cope with the loss of a loved one.

I've been doing a lot of time travel lately and am glad for those times that helped me become the woman I am today. And, as we are spread across the globe, we are bound by the Silver Kris that taught us the Pursuit of Excellence.

No comments: