That was when I noticed that the topic of conversation at the nearby table shifted to: yours truly.(It turns out the strange looking script was Hebrew. "How ironic would it have been: A Palestinian victim of anti-Semitism.") Truth be told, barring one bizarre exception (in Chicago of all places), I've never faced this kind of stuff, this overt, all these years living in the US. I've never had problems flying (and I fly a lot) after 9-11. I never felt I was being singled out I've never been called names. Or anything worse.
I brought the paper closer to my face and attempted to look absorbed while closely following what they were saying. I discerned from the way they were dressed and their accents that they were middle class, probably white-collar or civil servants. Two were making sarcastic references to “reasonable accommodations” (of minorities) the hot topic in Quebec nowadays. One of them refused to go along and insisted on changing the subject (so as not to offend me). I shall call him the Tsadik (righteous one) for the rest of my story.
After a brief and awkward pause, the outspoken head-baboon screeched that since he lived in a free country, he was entitled to say what was on his mind. He then defiantly added that “if certain people didn’t like it, they could go back to where they came from”. I slowly looked around to see if there was another source of stimulus that brought about his bizarre outburst. Given that there wasn’t a veiled Muslim or a turbaned Sikh in sight, I deduced that it was indeed the pile of papers in foreign-looking script as well as my Shaar LaMatchil that got him excited. They went on about how immigrants should be shipped back. One offered to pay for such an endeavor, another said that they should seize our assets and split them among the Pure-Laine Québécois, since we (immigrants) were living off their generous tax dollars. The Tsadik remained unamused and refused to engage in the conversation.
However, now that I sport a full (and quite straggly) beard, I have noticed something that is minor. It was most apparent zipping around the Metro in DC this past week: the stare is slightly longer, just by a second or so, there's the occasional side long glance. Maybe I'm imagining it. [Shrugs] The beard's here to stay. I don't miss shaving in the least. I need to go get batteries for the trimmer though -- I can't have it trimmed every week for ten rupees (~25c) like I did in India :).