Tuesday, December 05, 2006


As the date of our departure encroaches, I find myself reflecting on what Friendship is, & how hard it is to find True Friends. In our new home in a foreign country, making friends is something I think of with some trepidation. Will it be easy? When one is far away from one's extended family, friends are such important & valuable commodities to have.

"Friends are relatives you can choose." I heard this somewhere that I can't recall at the moment. How true it is though. True friends are hard to come by. In my lifetime (so far), I have met so many different kinds of people & made different kinds of friends.

True Friends
These are the ones I have known from childhood or college. There are a couple whom I met as an adult, & despite being separated by continents, still consider ourselves dear friends. These are people whom I can share comfortable silences with - no need for small talk.

Good Friends
These are friends whom I feel comfortable chatting with, & who have gone through similar experiences (eg. Medical school classmates). When we meet, there are no awkward silences; we eagerly catch up with each other's lives & occasionally organise get-togethers to maintain this friendship.

Social Friends
These are the ones whom I may meet at various social gatherings or school functions. We may smile & nod at each other, then, if we happen to be seated next to each other at the table, are able to strike up a fairly interesting conversation about common topics like current affairs or the school system or medical cases (if they happen to be fellow doctors). Apart from these events, we would probably never see each other ever again.

It's a mystery to me how a friendship forms. Why is it that Person A can become one's closest friend while Person B, who may exactly the same interests as you, can not?

When I first moved away from Singapore to the US, I was petrified that I would be alienated, being a foreigner & all. This proved to be unfounded fears as I found a group of people in my neighbourhood who eventually became my Good Friends.

Returning here, I thought that I would be able to make more new friends, this being my home country after all. My True Friends have, needless to say, remained close, & we literally picked up where we left off. I also resumed contact with some Good Friends & made a few new Good & Social Friends along the way.

However, making new friends hasn't been as easy as I thought. Neighbours here tend to keep to themselves (at least the ones that I have had). At work, my life experiences although enriching, have made me into a strange amalgamation of being a local with a foreign "twist". In my kids' school, where foreign parents are abundant, I realised that befriending some of them is not as easy as it looks, as people still tend to be cliquish when they are in a foreign community...which leaves me sandwiched somewhere between the "locals" & the "foreigners". Plenty of Social Friends to be had, but hard to find Good Friends; & True Friends?....virtually impossible.

So I hope that in our new adventure in China, there will be more Good Friends to be made. If I am lucky, I may even find a True Friend.

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