Seeing a familiar face from one’s distant past felt nice. Describing the pleasurable feeling of reuniting was hard to do. We knew each other facially from our days as university students. Both of us were away from our families back then, but one had probably travelled a longer distance and across cultural lines to be in the place where we first met.

In any case, here we were, thousands of miles away from our original meeting place and we had an opportunity to reminisce about times when we were a lot younger. The warmth of the first reunion encounter made me feel like I could make an effort to visit this person in his home.

Introducing me to some of his friends and associates in his comfort zone, I noticed a side to this person that hadn’t been apparent before. After providing some background information about the fact that we studied in the same university many years earlier, it became clear that he had a less than positive opinion of the person I was in the process of becoming.

He told his friends that I was lost. I guess he was referring to the fact that I didn’t seem to share similar cultural values to him anymore. The subtext of his introduction was that I had lost my bearings because I had assimilated within the culture we were currently living in, possibly in ways that he didn’t approve of.

At the time, I wondered why he hadn’t revealed his opinion to me in private. Were there too many issues to unpick in the conversation that might have happened if we had discussed the matter in a one to one conversation? What was he aiming to achieve through putting on trial in front of friends who shared his way of thinking? Did he think he could coerce me into deviating from my chosen path, because of the pressure of being judged by others? It felt like an odd way to build bridges or trust.