Many years ago I was having lunch with my grandmother in Munich, and I asked her if we, by any chance, would have some relatives somewhere in the world, that I could maybe visit and thus make my holiday a bit cheaper. She told a story about her niece who went to Chile, came back, and then immigrated to Australia where she stayed for good. An interesting story, but I obviously did not pay attention to all the details.
In the beginning of my winter semester at the University in Munich in 1997 I was forced to take the bus one morning as my car had broken down. I had never previously used public transportation from Trudering to Pasing so I had no clue as to which S-train I should jump on, and thus on which stop I should exit the bus. One stop later a nice man entered the bus. Like me, he also had no clue as to how he could travel on in order to get to the city center, where he intended to do some shopping. Needless to say, he asked me of all people! It turned out that he was an Australian, visiting his aunt in Munich. Together we found the nearest S-train station. The thought of a lecture in statistics at the university that day was not particularly appealing to me, so I asked this nice Australian guy (bloke :-) ) if he would be interested in having a cup of coffee with me. And so we did! Shortly thereafter we sat at Café Glockenspiel in the centre of Munich, where he showed me the phonebook that he was carrying around. He intended to visit a bike shop that he had found in there. It might have been easier to just write down the address, but apparently that is not common practice in Australia! Nowadays you would probably just have googled it with your smartphone and thus found the easiest way to go there right away. But then I would never have met Erich that morning on the bus!
A cup of coffee turned into a whole day searching for the bike shop. In the end we found out that it was actually closed down. The phonebook was apparently a bit outdated! But cool that he carried it around with him! In the meantime Erich had told me his story. Somehow it rang a bell, but I did not think very much about it. I just enjoyed the day that had turned out completely different from what I had expected that same morning. Anything but a statistics lecture would do!
Before returning back home to Trudering that evening Erich had even fixed my car. At one point he had told me that he worked for Qantas, but I guess I thought he was a steward or something like that. Not that he could fix stuff! But apparently I misunderstood a lot of things that day...
When we got home he met my mother. She liked him instantly! That same night we went out for drinks and chatted for many hours. It was a great night!
The next day I visited my Oma, and told her that I had just met a super nice guy from Australia, and that I would most likely go traveling down there soon. The only thing she asked me was if I got his last name. And of course I had his last name. I will never forget her expression and her finger pointing at me when she asked: “Is his name by any chance Fangmeyer?” Yes, that’s exactly right! That was and is still his name. Erich Fangmeyer. The son of the niece that immigrated to Australia many years ago. And I meet him randomly on a bus in Munich! It’s hard to believe!
I would have never investigated my Oma’s story any further, and I would have never known this part of my family. Maybe I would never have gone to Australia had I not met Erich. But in 2000 I went to Australia with my sister, and we stayed with Erich. This is how my sister got to know Erich as well. I went one more time in 2002. After this I intended to go to Australia every second year, but as it often happens, “life” got in the way, and it would take me another 11 years and a journey around the world to return. This time I am here with my own family, visiting Erich who by now also has his own family. They have invited us to stay with them for almost 4 weeks. In total we are 4 adults and 4 children aging from 3 to 6. Things are going well, and we are having a fantastic time here!
Back then, when I initially asked my Oma about any relatives somewhere in the world, I might have hoped for a rich uncle in the US or something like that. Instead I got a cousin (3rd degree) in Australia. But this is also pretty cool, or? By the way, my Oma’s family name on my fathers side - far back - was originally Trump. Maybe I should google that sometime...? :-)