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vendredi, mai 06, 2005

 Buffets all around

Yesterday, Ade and I went to People's Park Complex for a tour briefing and to finish all the administrative stuff we had to do for the trip to Egypt. (Yep, I'm heading to Egypt for about 9 days.) I'm a little boggled by the fact that a lot of old people want to go on this kind of trip (it's EGYPT man!) and also a little sad that we're going on a seriously package-package tour, but it's Egypt, and unless I've got a hefty boyfriend that loves to travel that I don't know about, looks like I'm stuck with package tours when I want to go to the off-the-beaten-track places. (Although on the upside, there aren't cases of snatch-theft and violence in Egyp;, it's more rip-off trade than outright violence, which makes me optimistic about a solo return trip if this one goes well.)

After we had paid off the balance, bought insurance and collected our surprisingly not-gross travel bags, we went to eat dinner at the food court they had. After sitting with another older couple on a shared table for a while, the couple left, and we continued our discussion on who-would-bring-what, like toothpaste and moisturiser etc. A sudden movement caught my eye. This man sat beside us, and started wolfing down the food on the plates beside us. At first, I didn't think that it was anything out of the ordinary - one old guy looks the same as the other to me. But I found it strange that he would leave with his wife, then suddenly abandon her to come back and swallow the rest of his food. The speed and ferocity that he was attacking the cabbage was rather disturbing, to say the least. I tried to continue the conversation - Ade was trying to tell me about a good deed she witnessed that day involving an Indian scholar and someone who bought him lunch - but this guy suddenly stood up, and sat at another table, and starting eating that food too!

My eyes opened really wide, and I think I must have interupted Ade's narration quite a bit, but it was a really disturbing sight, seeing someone feed off the leftovers of others. He was dressed quite well too - a shirt, long pants, a belt, loafers with dark socks - he didn't look destitute or smelly or unwashed. We wondered about him - was he lost? Really hungry? Forgot to bring his wallet out that day? Mentally unsound? Where did he stay? Did he have family? Did the hawkers know him? So many questions, but no answers. After that second plate, he went roaming around the (very small) food court, looking at plates and cups that had been abandoned.

I guess I'm very naive or underexposed or something, but this brush with society's less fortunate at home was really... shocking. It would have been less distressing if he had looked bad and smelled bad you know? Looked the part of the destitute person? But this guy looked normal. Has our desire to not "lose face" resulted in the creation of facades that hide our true state in life, no matter how desperate?

[Buffets all around]
Sngs Alumni @ 6.5.05 { 0 comments }


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