It's often the little things that make one feel at home in a new country. Yesterday I was at the local pharmacy waiting for a prescription to be filled when the pharmacist said "prescription for Mr. Lipschitz". I approached the pharmacist at the same time as another gentleman of a similar age. We looked at each other, smiled and then burst out laughing.
What are the chances of two people with the surname of Lipschitz being at a pharmacy at the same time? After spending most of my life in a small town in South Africa and then in New Zealand I had grown accustomed to the fact that I might very well be unique in terms of my surname. In my early years I had come to think of it as God's cruel joke and longed to meet someone called Bumface who would be lower on the surname pecking order than I.
When I moved from Vereeniging to Johannesburg to attend university I did come across a few more Lipschitz’s and one also got to hear of those that could not bear the heat such as Ralph Lauren who changed his surname from Lipschitz to Lauren. To be fair "an original Lipschitz creation" does not have the same sophistication as "an original Lauren creation".
Whilst on the subject don't bring up my father's cousin who incurred the ire of the Lipschitz clan by changing his surname from Lipschitz to Lipworth. I suspect every Lipman, Lipworth and Lipton is a turncoat. But please forgive me if I digress, I am carrying 49 years of baggage in this department.
The other Mr. Lipschitz must also have been carrying a fair bit of baggage judging by his reaction. It was a cathartic moment for both of us. I felt like putting my arms around him and shouting, "Landsman what happened to you?”
I don't imagine that this kind of experience is unique to only those with the surname of Lipschitz. Melbourne has such a rich diversity of cultures that I'm sure the same thing is happening to Mr.Dung from Vietnam , Mr Wang from China, Mr Dick Ramsbottom from England and Mr Haasbroek (rabbit pants) from South Africa . It is one of the things that I love about Melbourne and made me feel instantly at home.
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