Strangers on the Street Corner

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On my way into work one evening, I was waiting to cross the street over towards my hospital and I was standing next to a tan-skinned middle-aged stranger with a beard. He looked to me and apparently noticed I was also a tan-skinned bearded man.

As-salaam alaikum,” he said to me with some hesitation in his voice. This is Arabic for “Hello.” It literally means, “Peace be unto you.”

I am not of Arab descent nor do I speak Arabic. I was born in Virginia. But, I knew the proper reply.

Wa-alaikum salaam,” I responded immediately. (“And unto you be peace.”)

The stranger smiled. “Muslim?” I noticed a very thick accent.

“No,” I replied.

“Where you from?”

“My family comes from India.”

“Does that make you Sikh or Hindu or…?”

“Hindu.”

The stranger smiled again. “Well, we all worship the same God.”

I smiled back. “Indeed.”

We’d now crossed the street and were headed in different directions.

“Have a good night!” he said to me.

“You, too!”

And that was that.

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