Dedication for this essay goes to brother MSG (ret) Raymond Inabnitt

I awoke in my plaid dorm alarmed that some force had crept into it in the dark of night and sucked the life and color completely out of it, leaving a drab carpet, drabber curtains, and the drabbest portrait of some clown in a fez.

I missed the fez I had appropriated my first day in-country, one that had long gone by the way to finance a cab ride to the yelping of my poor feet.

I harnessed my run-away mind before it painted a picture of my room so grim as to drive me to suicide, and realized that the drab was the same level of drab it had been the evening before; nothing had changed overnight. I had to peel myself out of this “bed” and extricate my being from this room; to stay here was to die.

My watch informed me that I had achieved a conventional standard of eight hours of sleep. Surely my watch did not presume to guilt me over such an incidental comfort. I washed up and prepared to depart. This I did in spite of my watch.

I made my way to the train station longing for my wayward fez. But wait… the thought of a Taqiya hooked my mind. It was the little (usually white) sort of knit skull cap hat the most Muslim men wore. Certainly, they cannot be that expensive should I decide not to sin and steal one… I decided to wait to see how much the ticket would cost to determine if was going to invest in a Taqiyah. Later adding a Khafia scarf and with my Tevas I was indeed just another Roman!

Muslim cleric wearing a Taqiyah with a Khafia scarf draped over his shoulders.

With the purchase of my ticket to Fez, it looked promising for my wardrobe. The ride was without negative event, just the usual random local who was dying to practice English on me: “How do you do?” wafted the question from a man inside my eight-seater cabin. Wow, how do you do? I think that was the second time I had ever that phrase in my life; the first being in South Korea. I wasn’t even sure how to answer.