I was able to save more than two hundred dollars in my recent travel to Kuala Lumpur from the Philippines. Instead of boarding up for the week in a cheap hotel, I discovered the week prior to my leave that an old friend had migrated and taken an expatriate status in the Bangsar area of Kuala Lumpur, one of the better-looking districts of Malaysia’s capital.We weren’t really close to go out of our ways to see one another outside work but we were close enough to share a few rounds of alcohol.
So she told me to give her a ring when I arrived in Malaysia. From the Philippines I took a flight to Singapore for a conference and took the bus to Kuala Lumpur, a good five hour drive down the long highway connecting Singapore to KL. She had offered me her place to stay for the week long vacation I decided to take this opportunity to extend my escape from the Philippines, as I still fondly remember. As it turns out she would be leaving (for Singapore, also for a conference) and really didn’t mind entrusting her place to me for the time being. I would jokingly call myself “her kept man.” This was probably the kindest gesture someone ever did for me and there I was, in one of the nicest condominiums in KL for an entire week.
And it took days for me to figure out what to give her in return. You see the catch was that my flight to the Philippines and her flight back didn’t coincide. I would be left leaving an empty condominium, dropping the key into the drop box in the administrator’s office for her to pick up a day after I left.
I usually spent afternoons in the coffee shop a good five minutes away from the condo and right beside it a grocery store where I’d get my cereals for the day and wine for the night. Part of my “returning home gift” for her included me restocking her pantry with cereals, cheese, bread and a bottle of house wine. But there was still something missing. Looking around the furnished condo I knew I was missing that special touch. And then it dawned on me as I glanced at the counter near the television. I ran back to the grocer and picked up a fresh batch of assorted flowers. Back in the condo, I emptied the vase of old water with withered flowers and replaced them. Good as new, her place now had that special touch.
Days later she leaves me a message on the computer saying she was very thankful for the pantry gesture – and especially gleeful about the floral arrangement in the living room. It’s a great feeling to know that you can make someone so happy even when you are so far away. Since she moved in, this was the first time that vase’s contents were replaced.
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