Room 252

In room 252, a family had checked in. The father and his son--whose voice hadn't yet broken--were both making the sound of a power saw, like it was in full sawing mode, right through to how it chugs and fades as it completes a run. Sometimes the sound they mimicked resembled a horse neighing, but the animal doesn't keep it up so long, nor does its neighing trail off. The boy was still at his exasperating game at nine-plus, when I started to doze off, in spite of the nuisance from next door. I was tired from the walking I'd done all day, even if Dubai was cool now in December. Then, when I got up feeling thirsty at 2:00 am, I could hear the boy was still at it, sawing perfectly with his throat, less frequently now than at 9:00, and less loud. His father joined him now and then. Through it all, mother, father, and son kept up a conversation. The faintest voice was the woman's.

"Damn Indians," I cursed.

"Why don't they ever behave," I thought. I recalled all the numerous Indian faces I'd been seeing during the last three days at breakfast, and in the lounge, and at the gym on the rooftop. I recalled how they were handling food at the buffet counters, and how they were taking away breads others had loaded in the single toaster in the restaurant. I fumed, but I decided not to call the reception for help. "I'll go through this," I told myself, and picked up my Kindle and read Hemingway, a short story of a hunting trip of a Francis Macomber. I read slowly, and with some Kindle-pages of the story still left, and which I could savor upon waking in the morning, I switched off the device and went back to sleep. The sounds in the next room had gotten faint. At almost 3:00, they must've considered sleep a worthwhile alternative to oral sawing.

I was late waking up. Looking with groggy eyes for my glasses, and for my handphone, I thought, "They mightn't be Indians. They could be Arab; or East European; or South American. What certainty is possible that the muffled voices I've been hearing, and the expert throats making sawing sounds belong to Indians?"

I started getting ready. At 6:30, it wasn't too late for a spot on the treadmill.