Hello, he says. Hello I reply while shaking his gnarled hand.
He looks like my grandfather. Where are your from he asks. I’m from Canada I reply. I tell him that I’m mixed up. I was born in Germany, lived in France, spent the rest of the time in Quebec, Canada. Really, he asks. I’m mixed up too!
What are you doing here? I’m studying, writing, teaching, I reply. I sit down next to him and he asks me where my parents are from. I say that they come from Kerala.
Really, he asks. I come from Kerala too! What is your father’s name? I tell him my father’s name and he says that he knew the village from which my father is from. There was an instant kinship, something that happens only when you meet people like yourself.
I teach at Fujen Catholic university, in Xinjuang. Yes, I know it I reply. I study math at NTNU. He says that he started teaching there when Taiwan decided that it no longer wanted all these older people, over 65, teaching. So he started teaching at Fujen.
The polite Taiwanese man serving as his go-between finishes and they get up to leave.
It was nice to meet you, he says, I wish you the best. Yes, it was nice, I reply. Good luck. He leaves.