Friday, May 14, 2021 | Shawwal 1, 1442 H
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Should we talk to strangers? Depends!


I appreciate my personal space and peace of mind. Unlike my mother who owns a smartphone with a WhatsApp application.  

Rasha al Raisi -


I’m not a fan of smartphone technology and its numerous applications. I still own a good old fashioned, flashy yellow Nokia with buttons. And yes, it doesn’t have an Internet connection as I don’t see the point of being connected the whole time. I appreciate my personal space and peace of mind. Unlike my mother who owns a smartphone with a WhatsApp appl

Every night after dinner, mom would sit comfortably in the living room to checking her WhatsApp messages (while I’m trying to watch TV).

I keep hearing the annoying voice messages she gets from people around the world with so much trivia to share and the technology in hand to spread it.

One of the messages she received was from a woman with a Gulf dialect who was warning other women not to trust ladies from certain nationality (even though if they’re wearing an abaya, she said) as they cheat others. She claims that her daughter was cheated by one.

The lady entranced her with a few words, pushed a brown liquid in her hand to drink and then took her to the ATM machine and made her withdraw some money for her (new fraud technique if you are wondering).

Being my usual logical, killjoy self I asked mom: “Abaya or not, why talk to strangers to start with?”

This weird story brought fond memories of the time I spent in Malaga in 2014. I was doing a month course in a language school and shared a flat with multinational students. On my way to school every day, I would meet a homeless man sitting with his dog in front of a supermarket.

Other than his rough looks and huge beard, what caught my attention was the huge volume of book he had in hand and read so intently despite the street bustle around him.

There will always be a smile between us and the usual ‘hola!’ that we greeted each other with. If I ever pop into the supermarket, I’ll grab him something along. He would thank me graciously and continue his reading. One day, I noticed that his dog had a bandage on his ear.

This made me stop and ask him in Spanish what’s wrong with the dog. He said that he got into a fight and the vet was kind enough to treat him. I patted the dog’s head while noticing his German accent. Upon returning to the flat, I shared the news with my German friend Saskia.

She exclaimed that she’d noticed him too. She even bought his dog some biscuits that was in her bag the whole time but felt shy to approach. I assured her that he was a nice man and she should have a chat with him.

The next day, Saskia returned with the most amazing story ever: the gentleman was a German indeed who had a villa in a posh area in Germany. He got tired of the pressure of modern life and decided to roam around Europe, living on the streets.

He had been in Spain for a few months now. One day while he was sleeping in a drunken stupor in a barn, the place caught fire. He heard a dog barking and yanking his arm. It was this dog who had saved his life. They’ve been inseparable since.

The story filled me with awe and I decided to go the next day to salute him for his bravery and perseverance. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find him in his usual spot and didn’t see him till the day I left. I wish that he and his dog are doing well.

The wrtier is a certified trainer and the author of The World According to Bahja. She can be contacted at:

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