The venue was the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi – a villa like those we see in the fino’s films during the sixties. I was looking for Nathanail (Greek actress) to peep out from a corner and running into the huge grass garden to meet ‘Alexi'(Greek popular posh name) .
Instead of this imaginery scene my first encounter was a Pakistani diplomatic couple. The woman said “You should visit Islamabad, it’s beautiful place, there is lately a bad press but the situation isn’t exactly as you read in the headlines…”
Penelope “Don’t worry my country is always under those headlines and I sympathise you”. I knew the feeling so well.
Seconds later, Saddam Hussein was approaching me with the look of a bon viveur. He was wearing a tuxedo, white bow tie and a big cigar. He introduced himself as Iraqui businessman and Penelope as Unani( the Greek in Arabic). As he was walking away, the man next to me murmured in my ears “he is throwing the best parties in town with belly dancers and food! I wasn’t surprise it was a natural attachement to his appearance.
Third Scene in the round table : A Jordanian businessman was enthusiastic about Penelope’s nationality and he started to talk about his hero Alexander the Great (I don’t know how the conquerors settle in people’s mind as heroes, perhaps the power, success and his early death). But he had another card in his sleeves, his homeland was Bethleem and he carried on saying “you know this great guy Jesus, he was born in my town! there is still the cave which is lightened by a big star…….” Μy religious aunt Eftalia came to my mind, perhaps she would be in shock hearing the references about Jesus.
Fourth Scene: A couple of Indian people speaking with perfect English, sign of educated and uppercast Indians. The lady said “India is a vast country, most Indians do not have common things except their name. We are Zoroastries.. “. A that point I could identify them, they looked exactly like my Indian friend Sorop who had the same roots and religion.
The rest of the evening was a stereotype , the cause of the reception was a chilrend charity and the hostess was the wife of a prominent man in the local society. She cares for the children as well as for her connections and the couple’s social status. These things go together everywhere around the globe.
As I was walking away , the minarets lights were on giving a very exotic atmosphere, I had the feeling that I had refreshed my primary school knowledges about religions and history. The lesson was “everything can be used as a talking point when you are in a such diverse social circle”.