He was just standing in the corner when I approached him for the first time. He has a huge body that would make you think that he has hardship in him. But no, he smiled sweetly when I first greeted him. He told me that he’s from Baghdad. The first man I know from Baghdad in my entire life. However, he spent most of his life in Dubai.
So there it went the ‘ultimate’ question that is always asked to all the expats: “What brings you here?”
“Tiles,” he answered.
I smiled waiting for further explanation that he would like to add to his answer. That was also the first unique answer for such question that I have heard so far.
“I used to work in an Italian company that produces tiles back there in Dubai. Have you been to Dubai, anyway?”
“No, unless for a short transit if I want to go back to Indonesia.”
“It was an interesting city…”
“Not thinking of going there. I honestly hate Dubai because of their city planning system that is not environmentally friendly as well as the arrogance of the native people towards the expats.” I kept only my respond in my head and let him to continue his story.
“So, just like clothing, we have sort of theme for the tiles we produced that has specific color like gray, blue, green. And you also have specific measurement like 30×30, 40×40, 60×60. So, one of the themes of these tiles we produced was Life. So among the colleagues, we liked to joke about the day as if it was the tiles, my life is 30×30 which means ass. Or 60×60, depends how do we feel about that day.”
“That’s a nice story! So, what is the color of your tiles here in Belgium?”
“I’d say… Romantic sunset.”
Short story inspired by the expat meetup meeting I had.