-“Don’t you want to take a shower, Mystic Wanderer—looks like you need one.”
A few years ago, we were travelling frequently from Miami to San Dona di Piave in order to carry on our Doctoral studies in Health Policy and Management at Columbia University with extended stays in the Veneto region of Italy. We often bought a ticket from a German airline, which meant a transfer in a major hub like Munich or Frankfurt. Given that there were only a few hours of waiting time, we spent that time in the clean, secure terminal after eating a delicious snack and drinking a good beer. We often dozed off for a one hour or two, without any hassles. Until that day.
Those unsolicited words startled us, interrupting our nap in a super-comfy sofa of the main lounge; it had been almost deserted in the wee hours, with only the din of its open buffet-style cafeteria. Droopily coming out of our REM sleep, we looked askance at the impertinent creature that broke it.
In front of us stood a medium height middle-aged man with the dark complexion typical of Middle Eastern origin. With his wet hair neatly combed and his just shaven face, he was wearing a combo of a short sleeves shirt and a pair of pants, so nondescript that we cannot even remember their colors. He could have passed for any cheeky salesman that, out of nowhere, abruptly accosts you in a bazaar’s alley to peddle a carpet of dubious origins and worse weaving.
-“Sorry…do I know you?” we managed to mumble, rubbing our eyes.
-“Don’t think so. But I do know you. I sensed your presence well before I arrived.”
-“Really? And who are you?”
-“My name is Ahmed, I am a businessman that makes at least this connection once per month. I love this airport…There are nice free showers over there. Try them.”
-“Well, I’m kind of lazy. I’ll have a good one once I arrive in Miami.”
-“You seem to be very ambitious but still quite approachable…No obstructionist pride.”
-“Got plenty of defects, but vanity has never been the worst of them.”
-“Keep it that way…There is a stone inscription at home that warns against the dangers of pride…It says…” He then started to recite some words that seemed like Latin but we could not decipher.
At that moment, a two men-patrol of green-uniformed German police stopped by and asked to see our passport; we reached for our handbag and handed it to them. Once they checked it with a hand-held computer scanner, they politely returned it. We then noticed that our “new friend” was gone, as stealthily as he had arrived. We forgot to mention that he presented to us without any carry on luggage or handbag, something very unusual in a hub airport full of transit travelers.
We buried that anecdote all the way back in our so disgracefully cluttered Unconscious mind. Until a few days ago, when we were reading, out of sheer curiosity an excellent article in the Wikipedia about the Templar castle of Krak des Chevaliers, we found the following:
Note. This picture was taken from Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Krak_des_chevaliers_inscription_latine.jpg
You may have bounty, you may have wisdom,
You may have beauty
Pride alone defiles all these things
If it accompanies them
Wow! The sight and sound of our encounter with Ahmed rushed into our mind. Was this the inscription he had told us about? Why would he call that castle his home? Was he a time traveler that was making a stop-over in our world? Could it really be? Is there a parallel world and time?
Whatever the answer to those questions are, we will surely abide by those sage words. Pour quoi pas?
Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.