Little Gestures

For those like me, who live a life on the move, little recurring gestures are a very important part of life: they give comfort, make you feel a bit at home and help preserving a certain stability and balance.
They are inconspicuous things that make you smile and give you a peculiar sort of relief.
Like when you reach the Dubai airport on the way back from Kabul. Like when the sliding door of the terminal closes behind you, you smell the air and are hit by a disorienting kind of self-realisation: you have become aware of your smell. You wonder for a moment where that smell may come from and suddenly realise that it is you. That’s when figure that all the clothes you wear – your jumper, your scarf and even your hair – have a slightly tangy and pungent smell. You look around to try and figure if others have noticed it as well. You have carried with you the smell of the sawdust we use in the bukharis to warm our houses in Kabul. You have carried it with you, but it only lasts that moment of awareness before getting absorbed by the sanitised atmosphere of the airport.
Or like when the waiter, early in the morning at Flower Street Cafe in Kabul, smiles at you and tells you: “I know what you will have this morning. You like your black coffee, you like it a little bit strong and you don’t want milk or sugar and you also don’t like the saucer under your cup.” And this warms your heart, but you don’t have the time to smile because he has already gone you make your coffee.
Or also like when you go to the Afghan consulate in Dubai and the young guy at the counter recognises and greets you and says: ”Oh you are back again, incredible that a month has already gone. Time really does fly.” And then from there you go to the visa counter where the older man with a beard and serious face brings back the usual banter and scolds you: “Ah this time you are on time! Last month you were late. But tell me about Italian food, Is it as good as people say?” He does not wait for my answer, checks my papers and smiles. “Oh common, you come every month and you still haven’t learnt that I need a reference number? Ok never mind, you will bring it back next month.”

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