I should be in London this week to celebrate her big day, but work is piling up and there is no way I could get away from my desk this month without feeling guilt. So, I called her at London time 2am today, yes I must be mad to interrupt a bride's beauty sleep. But it is not easy to choose a good time with the 7 hours time difference.
Thinking back, I have already known Mei for 11 years. We got to know each other during our Master years. I recalled it was a cold autumn mid-morning in Keele, I was having bad jet-lag and hungry, and had no place to stay, yet. The warden asked me to wheel my two big suitcases myself - and later I found out my dorm was a good one km walk from her office. Having pampered with the facilities of having own car in Brunei, I wheeled the suitcases and annoyed with the warden and the university at the same time!
Then, a tall, Chinese girl in her early 20s walked past with rocket speed, I stopped her and asked: "Excuse me, how far is Horwood from here?"
That Chinese girl answered with very strong British accent: "That's far, can you manage these things on your own. Let me help you!"
We walked for a further 10 metre, and I asked her, "Err, I know this might sound weird, but do you happen to have instant noodles? I am extremely hungry. This is dinner time back at home."
"Yes, I do. You poor girl. How long do you have to travel to get here? I am from London. My brother drove me here."
"I had to take a 14 hours plane from Brunei + an hour domestic flight from London + 2 hours coach ride from Manchester to get here" (Back then during my first trip to Staffordshire, I didn't realise I could just take a train ride from Euston Station to reach Stoke-On-Trent, and another 20 minutes cab ride would take me to Keele University).
"Oh, you really must eat. I will cook instant noodles for you as soon as you settle down."
This is how our friendship began. Over the years, we have come up with a phrase together from our Keele experience ie. "If we could survive Keele, we could overcome all other things in our life".