Friday, July 18, 2008

stranger in a strange land

There is a house I walk past on my morning walks.

The bricks are chocolate brown, the cream paint peeling and unmatching. The house stands on a flat parallelogram of over-grown lawn, surrounded by dying plants and untrimmed shrubs. There's a cream vinyl sofa against the side fence near the Hills Hoist.

A family has moved in. The father or grandfather often stands alone outside the house. Brindle-bearded, he wears a large turban. He stands, hands behind back, and stares at the sky, the trees, and surreptitiously at the people passing by. When they approach he turns his back and looks away, up at the sky.

I feel embarrassed when I pass him. He avoids my gaze. Do my clothes offend him? Do women walk past this brazenly, with arms showing, in the land he comes from? Am I supporting stereotypes even thinking such things?

I look down at the pavement. I am trying to be respectful, to lower my eyes in his presence. He looks away.

Stranger in a strange land.

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