I was excited to be meeting my old ( but young at heart ) friend Siddhisvari who was visiting from her home in Spain.
As I stood looking around Federation Square trying to spot her, I was approached by two young people clutching clipboards nervously but smiling broadly.

That’s how I met a young man from Japan and a young woman from Thailand in Australia attending college for a year or two to learn English.
I found out they had come into the city for a day to practice asking strangers questions.
It wasn’t long before the questions on their clipboard were abandoned and we fell into an easy conversation fed by genuine interest in each other.
Siddhisvari spotted us and joined in the conversation.
After a while I asked if they would like a gift of a little Buddha. And as happens so many times they seemed so sure straight away which one they wanted to take home.
The young woman chose an earthy Buddha commonly placed at Jizo shrines in Japan.
And the young man liked the solid and calm of Akshobya with the earth touching, grounding hand gesture.
As we said our goodbyes to these new friends the young woman quickly delved into her bag and gestured me to open my palm.
In it she placed an elephant, the animal so connected to Akshobya and a pivotal symbol for me in relation to my spiritual practice.
I laughed at beauty of exchanging unexpected gifts and then went on to enjoy a lovely visit and lunch at a Buddhist city temple with my dear friend.

Buddhas donated by  Maureen UK and Kiranada USA