In college, I had a surprise waiting for me when I came back for my second semester. My original roommate was gone! A week later, my new roommate showed up: a young man named Khalifa from the United Arab Emirates–among other things, he sometimes slept with his eyes open. Which freaked me out no end when I came in to find a strange Arab man sleeping in my room. With his eyes open.
It’s a bit like having a conversation with a corpse. (Not that I’ve had a conversation with a corpse, mind.) He was also a deep deep sleeper. After a moment or two of “hello? hello?”, I promptly fled.
Later, when he was awake, he turned out to be a delightfully friendly, if a little daft, young man. He also showed during the middle of Ramadhan, which I had never heard of before. I didn’t really understand why he was bringing back pizzas in the middle of the night (1-2 AM). (He sure liked pizza!) I’ll never forget the night that I joined him and one of his friends on the floor, eating rice and yoghurt with my hands, at 1 in the morning.
Or the time that he told me that he was sorry for me because I could only ever have one wife. (At a time, my friend, at a time! I should have said.) Instead, I just laughed nervously. I had no idea how to respond. The thought of having more than one wife (or girlfriend, for that matter) is not an appealing one!
Later in my schooling, I had another roommate from the UAE. He was far less pleasant.