Friends from unexpected places

A few months ago, I found myself in the most unexpected of places. Iraq. That's right, Iraq. For a friend’s wedding.

I was there for a week, and managed to make some really good friends. The bride's family, our driver, our translator, etc. We went jogging and shopping. Some of us even got our nails done. I couldn't believe it, but many of these friends were really avid Gmail users! They'd invited a bunch of their friends and were getting more and more Iraqis using Gmail! So when we launched Google Talk, I was really excited to be able to share it with them--now they could stay in even better touch.

I'll never forget the first time one of them, Azher, showed up in my Friends list. I had to call him immediately! There was some crackling at first, but then the sound came through really clearly. It was just so cool to talk with a friend in Baghdad!

I hadn't really expected to keep in touch with many of the people from my trip. But with Google Talk, I find myself chatting or talking with Azher every few days or so. I tell him about what’s going on at Google and he tells me the latest in Baghdad. It's also an easy way for me to make sure he's safe and ok every day.

Sometimes, I almost don't believe I was in Iraq (my parents still don't know so I hope they don't read this). The whole thing was pretty surreal. But then, whenever I glance over at Google Talk, I see Azher's status message (ironically, it's usually just an update on the weather) to remind me that it did happen after all :)

Ana Yang
Gmail and Google Talk Product Marketing Manager

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