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I am an expatriate living in the US in cities of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  And when I go back to Asia I am unused to seeing large groups of people who are of the same ethnicity.  It always makes me wonder, when a foreigner see people hanging out who apparently all look the same, do they wonder, like me, what distinguishes people from becoming friends with some but not others?  To the superficial eye, this group of teenagers, for example, could easily hung out with that group of teenagers, and yet people seem to pick out their friends based on distinctions.  Now, being in France too, to me as a foreigner, this group of French retirees could easily mingle with that group of French retries, yet the two groups sit separately.  This question has lingered for all of my life until I read The Little Prince.

In the story, the little prince takes care of a flower (a rose) that he has on his planet and is convinced by the rose that it was unique and special.  He comes to earth and sadly discovers that there are thousands of roses just like his roses.  In one garden alone, he sees 5000 roses.  He suddenly feels very sad that his rose is not very special and he himself is not very special.  It is then that the fox appears.

Of all the dozens of little towns in Provence, that on the surface look all alike, I have “tamed” Apt, by walking back and forth in it and learning all kinds of little things about it.  This city called Apt…it is now the city that is special in my mind, and it’s the one that stands out!

And look who else showed up a few days later!  I rest my case!!

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