Saturday, September 01, 2007

Not quite a Disney song...

I had an interesting encounter last night...

I came back to my hotel after attending a couple of the parties that take place every night after the convention. I was stopping at the "konbinni" or convenience store to get something for breakfast. While shopping, I noticed a man there that was obviously a foreigner. It's relatively easy to spot people who are not native in a country where 97% of the population are from the same ethnic group.

The man turned and spotted me. He clearly had the same understanding as I had. I was trying to place him in the world (I was thinking he was from India at first) as we moved toward each other in the aisle.

"Hello," he said as we reached each other. His English was accented, but I couldn't place it. "Where are you from?"

"America," I replied. "U.S.A."

"Really?" I could tell that my answer had increased his interest. I realized why in the next moment when he said, "I'm from Iraq."

"Really..." I immediately felt somewhat awkward. "Did you...?" Leave the country, I almost asked, "Move here, or..."

"I'm here on business. Training..." He went on to tell me that he was in Japan to study security measures for sea ports. When he returned to Iraq, he was going to be working on security for the port at Basra.

"That's very important these days." He nodded in agreement, smiling as if my stating the obvious was insightful in some what.

We chatted for a little longer. He then shook my hand, giving me his name and room number. "If you need anything or want anything while you're here, let me know." He repeated his name and room number to make sure I had it.

I thanked him for his offer and said good night. I bought my breakfast and went back to my room. One of the 'neat things' I had mentioned to my tour mates was how, just a few months ago, I had been looking at this distant part of the world through the internet and other media, and now I was here, standing in places I had only dreamed of coming to. The encounter made me think about the other side of the coin; this security man from Iraq, trying to get someplace he could only dream about, and coming to the other side of the world to get there.

Small world, huh?



Post a Comment

<< Home