Want to know the trick to spotting an expat? Ask him/her for change ... and watch them agonize as they empty their change purse, desperate to find the right currency. Watch Euros, Canadian Dollars, American Dollars, Indian Rupees, UAE Dinars all come spilling out. Watch the expat's confusion as he/she tries to re-circuit his/her brain to the country/denomination equation.
We're headed back home for a bit. Every time we leave the country, we open up the safe and empty out Kiddo's piggy bank to see what coins and currency we have collected from voyages past.
It's always an adventure. Who'd have thought checking out the home slush fund would open up the floodgates to memories of journeys past, of travels to exotic lands, of exciting voyages and family trips filled with precious memories worth umpteenth times more than the collective value of those bills and coins?
Who'd have ever thought I'd be walking around with Rufiyaa from the Maldives in my pocket-book? I might have dreamt it once ... now I've been there three times ... I have lots of coins to remember it by.
The coins themselves are worth little more than the memories. But the memories are worth all the gold in the world. Days and nights spent watching the sun rise, shine and set over the Indian Ocean. An afternoon in awe gazing at the ruins in Petra. A night of wild abandon on Bangla Road in Paton, on Phuket Island in Thailand; visiting go-go bars and riding three astride on a moped to go watch Thai boxing. Afternoons spent skiing in the Alps. Autumn mornings in Tuscany; Smilin' Vic making a fire to keep the damp out and sitting out on the terrace to watch the sun rise and the dew evaporate. Hanging out at a gay cocktail bar in Soho that served the best blueberry martini ever before heading off to see Les Miserables in London. Seeing Dubrovnik through the eyes of a traveller when Smilin' Vic had only ever seen it as a peacekeeper.
The money in my pocket book, in Kiddo's piggy bank, in our bank account; their value is truly found in these memories. The currency itself is meaningless if it doesn't give greater meaning.
Obviously we have dreams; to build a house one day, to send Kiddo to university, to retire comfortably. But we've tried to keep that all in perspective; we don't need much to be happy.
Along the way, the dosh has given us the journey. And the journey is worth so much more than the money.
So empty out your wallet. And tell me where you've been. Or look at those coins, and tell me which ones you'd like to add.