From my vantage position, the Atlantic Ocean was a few feet away and I could see the dancing waves frothing up the shoreline. The sun was shining brightly in the clear blue sky and the palm leaves were swaying in the gentle breeze. An elderly gentleman sat two tables down from me. A group of four athletic youngsters were on my left and a middle-aged couple, on my right.

There were various activities going on in these three diverse areas. The old man wished everyone as he came into the cafeteria, smiled in all directions, complimented the waitress by saying how pretty her red shoes were and settled down with a steaming cup of coffee.

The sporty youth went directly for the buffet section and plied their plates with large quantities of food. They were all in their swim gear and seemed as if they had come straight from a strenuous swimming session. The moment their hunger was satiated, they whipped out their smartphones and with heads bent, started tapping on them.

The middle-aged couple looked like they were into their second or third marriage. Either that or they had recently met through a dating site. I assumed this with absolute certainty because the pair could not keep their hands off each other. Let me clarify, I’m not a cynic but why would normal people who have been married for several decades demonstrate their affection so publicly? A casual hug here or there is acceptable but to smother one another in kisses every few minutes is doubtful. Seriously doubtful, that is.

The old man was eager to talk to anybody who had the time or inclination to converse with him. He had a pleasant face and repeatedly kept glancing up from the newspaper that he was reading to absorb the scenery around him. He seemed calm, unhurried and looked like he was privy to a happy secret that he was dying to share with the world.

The youngsters were very busy communicating with the other denizens of the cyber world and had eyes glued to their phones. They hardly spoke to anyone though a wry laugh would escape occasionally from one of them but they never divulged the joke. Their fingers moved with lightening speed over the keypad and they only realised the passage of time when their phones beeped a previously set alarm, which signified a specific allocated activity.

The love-struck couple was, of course, caught up in their own universe and were either feeding morsels of food or showering more kisses on one another.

Generally speaking, when one is people watching, one can readily jump to conclusions and weave fantastic stories about what one observes. I had already surmised that the old man was an affluent businessman who had somehow lost his fortune, the youngsters were Olympic athletes and the lovey-dovey couple was unmarried.

To verify my deduction I decided to check with Rose, the cheerful waitress.

“I don’t know anything about the athletes or the elderly gentleman,” she confessed

“And that couple?” I questioned, pointing discretely towards them.

“Ah! The kissers?” she asked.

“They are not married, right?” I inquired.

“Yes and no,” she replied.

“What do you mean?” I was curious.

“They are married” she said.

“Ok” I said.

“But not to each other”, she laughed.


Nickunj Malik’s journalistic career began when she walked into the office of Khaleej Times newspaper in Dubai thirty-one years ago and got the job. Since then, her articles have appeared in various newspapers all over the world. She now resides in Portugal and is married to a banker who loves numbers more than words. 

Nickunj Malik