First it was the Asian guy. He was sitting at the table next to us when we arrived and had just polished off his plate of whatever it was. Although he’d done a good job there was enough left to see that it was probably a good choice. After exchanging greetings (it’s the done thing in these parts apparently), I inquired how his dinner was. “Delicious!” he replied enthusiastically. When I asked him what he’d ordered, he confessed that he had no idea; he’d just asked the waiter to bring whatever it was the people next to him were eating.
On the other side of us a young couple were finishing off their main course. He, French; she, Chinese. Students we assumed, they were deep in conversation as they sat over their empty plates. Were they a couple? It was hard to tell. A lot of students hang out together and share a meal while pondering their assignments or discussing the latest school gossip. He was animated and spoke most of the time. She sat back in her chair, listening attentively and chipping in with a few words and a smile from time to time. It was only as they sat over their coffees and they reached across and held hands that we knew.
They soon left wishing us good night and their table was quickly wiped clean before another couple took their place. Slightly older, and this time clearly together. She was Indian, maybe in her late twenties; he looked Arabic, around the same age and slightly taller than her. This time it was she who spoke a lot more; she was clearly excited about something and he nodded with a smile as she talked. Frequent phone calls interrupted her in her flow and she took each one, speaking with the same bright and smiling tone that she shared with her partner. When he went to the loo she immediately called someone, eager to share her news, whatever it was. And then we found out too, as she pulled out a set of scans from her bag and they passed the images between them, their pride at their upcoming parenthood instantly evident.
Finally, as we were finishing our main course at the table where the Asian man had sat two young men sat down. In their twenties, they sat next to one another, rather than opposite as was the convention here. They fell deep into conversation immediately, only to be interrupted when I handed them a carafe of water that the waiter had brought over. They smiled, we exchanged a joke and then they fell back into their discussion.
Eventually we got up from the table, wished ‘Bonne nuit’ to our neighbouring diners and left them to enjoy their meals away from the curious eyes of these British tourists in their midst.