Friday, 19 July 2013

Who is Maria Ralbovska?

Who is Maria Ralbovska? I don't know. But for nine months, the tag outside my room in Aachen proclaimed me as her.
Everyone and I mean everyone else I know had the correct name tags on their door, except me. I do not know why the Hausmeister never bothered to change mine and my numbing fear of him and his insistence that I speak in German ALL THE TIME never allowed me to broach the subject with him.
In any case, for those nine months I lived as Maris Ralbovska. We had a common kitchen with allotted shelves and lockers. She hadn't taken much with her when she left. Pots and pans, a few brand new packets of pasta, a box of toffee - I found all these waiting for me in the locker assigned to me, the locker which once again read 'Maria Ralbovska'. I cooked with her utensils. I even cooked the pasta and discovered a new favorite toffee in the box she left behind. To everyone in the apartment who did not know me personally, I was Maria Ralbovska, the surprisingly Indian looking girl from one of the erstwhile Soviet countries.
Thankfully, my mail box had my correct name, so I always got the posts all right. But every where else inside the building it was, 'Hi Maria'. I initially went about correcting them but after sometime, I gave up. 'Anwesha' was more difficult to remember for those with whom I had no more than two words per week.
It was Valentine's Day when on my door, there was a long-stemmed red rose - I do not know from whom or for whom - Maria or me. But I suppose it does not matter -it was there and it was a lovely surprise.

I do not know who Maria Ralbovska is, I have never met her, but I feel like she is a part of me.
From the black-handled wok, the penne in the pantry, the butter-cream toffee and your tanning lotion on my shelve to the single long-stemmed rose on my door, you have been more my companion in a foreign land than you will ever know and if you happen to come across this blog, Dear Ms. Ralbovska, who lived in Seilgraben before August 2010, drop me a line - because I sure would like to finally meet you.

To randomness of life,