I was in LAX on Thursday on my way to Austin. My standard ritual during my return trips is to consume my elixir of choice at the starbucks in the terminal.
The girl who took my credit card looks up at me and says "Are you from India?" I nod with a smile (it is pretty obvious if you look at me) She then asked "which state are you from?" This caught me off guard since most people are not familiar with the states in India. I said I am from South India. She continued confidently, "TamilNadu?".. I was bemused and did the nod again. "Vanakam" ... I did a double take but I had heard her right, she repeats it "vanakkam".
Vanakkam is the word for 'welcome' in Tamil, my mother tongue. She answered my unasked question with, "Yeah I took Tamil in college". Did you go to school here I asked (referring to USC/UCLA etc). No no... of course not. I am from Poland she said. It turns out that Tamil is offered as a foreign language in Poland.
It is a small world indeed. Coincidentally my wife is going to Poland in a few weeks.. maybe she will be able to practice her meager but growing Tamil vocabulary there ;-)