(Image: dessert: a quenelle of blueberry sorbet, a rectangle of goats cheese cake, sprinkled with puffed quinoa and sultanas, on a black plate)
My life felt like a movie last Monday evening. I had planned on going home, setting up Apple TV, cooking a quick meal and writing until Adam got home late from a job. It's funny how life has other plans.
As I walked from work to the train station, a man who was probably five years older than my Dad asked for directions to a restaurant. He had a map and pointed to where he needed to go. I told him I was going near there, and I would show him where to turn. He seemed to need further directions than "turn left, walk up the lane way and turn left again". I didn't have anywhere to be so I said I'd walk him there.
We got talking. He's from Tahiti, on holiday in Melbourne for a week. I pointed out Parliament and he asked how old the building was. We arrived at the restaurant - San Telmo - he was hungry for a flame cooked steak.
He asked if I would like to join him for dinner, and I did, thanking him for his generosity. He was so excited for Argentinian food - the French girl at his hotel recommended it. He said if it was a good meal, he'd be telling his travel agent back home, so she can recommend it to other travellers.
We both had a glass of red wine, steak (him sirloin and eye filet for me), fried broccoli and salad, and I had a goats cheesecake with blueberry sorbet quinoa puffs. The food was delicious.
We talked about all sorts of things - his children, our love of food (he's a chef), how he retired at a young age, and the Tahitian lagoon views from his windows.
I told him about my upcoming wedding and work. He told me to tell Adam to look after me, and that we had better take a photo because Adam wouldn't believe I had a meal with a stranger I met on the street!
We spoke of solo travel. He said he's enjoying Melbourne but feels lonely. I told him how I travelled for seven weeks alone, and he was surprised. He was missing home and his children.
It was nice to talk, to meet someone new and wise. He was so genuine.
Throughout dinner, he said he would never have found the restaurant if it wasn't for me. He was so thankful. I wrote down suggestions of other foodie places he should go to, and he said he would.
When we said goodbye, I thanked him for the meal, he thanked me for my directions and said that we have to repay kindness. I'm his one Melbourne friend now - I hope to hear from him again.
It's amazing who you can meet if you just stop to say hello.