In which our intrepid hero introduces his girlfriend to the masses.

Not long before I moved to Sydney, my sister (who’d been living here for some years) noted that she never got to see any tourist attractions. Her days were too busy, and the only time she visited museums and other sights around the city were when out-of-town friends came to visit; only then would she make an excuse to catch some of the places of cultural interest in Sydney.

It’s been like that with me, too, in a way. I’ve been so busy, lately, that I haven’t seen many of my friends for a while. I’ve let relationships drift, lost track of people I care about, and I’ve been a bit miserable as a result.

One of the unexpected bonuses of having Mim K/W in my life is that I have friends who she’s never met, so I need to introduce her to them. And it’s a great excuse to catch up with people I’ve neglected for far too long.

I’ve had a great (albeit hectic) time in the past few weeks, seeing smiling faces I’d almost forgotten, catching up on gossip and reliving old times. And it turns out that—friendships aside—a number of my friends can help Mim professionally. I’m far better connected, it seems, than I knew.

I get this little buzz inside when I introduce people to each other, and they hit it off. It’s like I’m running a platonic dating agency, or I’m there at the forefront of friend tourism. This so rocks.

UPDATE: A possibility struck me as I posted this. I’ve had a number of friends who’ve been on student exchange (including my sister, Mim F), and I’ve always found the idea of having a surrogate family abroad fascinating.

Likewise, I remember when Mim F and I travelled to the United States about 11 years ago; whilst Mim F was keen to see all the sights of New York or New Orleans, I really just wanted to meet the people. Maybe I’m just more social than my sister, but I think that the character of a place is more determined by its people than its history.

How cool would it be if “friend tourism” existed in a more literal sense?

Imagine you’re a tourist from China, or the US, or Lithuania. You come to Sydney, see the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, maybe go to Taronga Zoo, and when you leave, all you have is a series of happy-snaps. Sure, you might appreciate Sydney aesthetically, and have enjoyed some of your tourist experiences, but in the end, it’s pretty sterile—you simply haven’t engaged with the city emotionally.

But if you rock up and are introduced to amiable locals, you get a whole new perspective on your visit; it’s a bit like living Pria Viswalingam’s A Fork in the Road.

When you leave, you don’t just leave with memories, but with friends. And your engagement with Sydney continues through those friendships. It’s not just a one-off experience, and you’d be more likely to return to the Coathanger City in future.

Everybody wins.

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