December 7, 2004

Observations from the Redpath Library

Same faces meet without any prior appointment everyday. They take the same places. They look at each other. Sometimes, they nod their heads, other times they smile, they seldom share a word.

My Indian PhD student friend: I met him in during my first weeks in Montréal in Second Cup coffee shop on Milton Street. We chatted for a while. Since then, I see him every time I am looking across the windows of every café in Montréal. It seems that during the winter he hibernates in the Redpath reading room. Same laptop. Same headphones. Lonely looks. Will I end up like him?

The energetic engineering student: She is always here before me. We always share a smile. I think she is Lebanese. She is always careful of her stuff. Ear plugs are always ready to be used. When she goes away for a short while, she asks me to look after her stuff. I always accept generously. She came in late today.

The tall blonde with the laptop: She always takes the window table. My favorite table especially when I have my laptop with me. Sometimes she laughs at the computer screen. Maybe she is chatting with a loved one. I think she is an MBA student. She has a colorful umbrella that matches the colors of her sweater. I wonder if that was done on purpose.

The brunette: I think she is a political science student. Quebecoise with long brow hair. A big “trousse” full of all sorts of colored pens. Her papers have the colors of the rainbow on every line.

The young short dude: Always shaved. Always messy with his papers. Yet, he looks pretty smart to me.

The old Indian: I think he realized that he missed some education so he returned back to school. He only comes in the evenings at 6pm exactly. Probably, after a long day at work.

My Lebanese classmate: We talk over a cigarette about politics, democracy, growth economics, immigration to Canada, and most of all our own identity. In English of course!

In the outside alley, people are walking speaking different languages. Arabic is commonly heard. It feels like the hallway of one of Mougama3 el Tahrir floors.

As I look outside, people are still breathing in the -10 C weather. Snow covers the whole campus as if I am watching the “Love Story” movie.



Anonymous said...

Your sense of faces is obvious in all your writings and photos, and it is marvellous my friend. Does it reflect a deep longing to finding a 'lost identity'?

Anonymous said...


This sharing is my favourite. I keep reading it every time I browse through your blog. Something in it does touch me, maybe because some of the questions are very familiar, and maybe because I get to imagine you in this library and in my mind, compare this image with your Harris Cafe one: Loud laughs, energetic gestures and endless optimisim. I still hear your voice telling me 'boussy ba'ah ya 3azizati Mayo, moush 3aref bass...'
a muse statement that preceeded your comment on whatever I tell you.