ALL of the tables in the coffee shop were taken. I looked around and saw an Indian man in his early thirties at a large table near the entrance. I raised an eyebrow, and he smiled and nodded, so I slid my tray onto the table and took the seat opposite him. A large handbag was hooked over the edge of the table. He noticed me looking at it and laughed.
“No,” he said, “it’s not a man-bag. It belongs to my wife.”
“Oh, I hope I’m not…”
“No,” he said. “She’s gone to pick up my son from the school bus.”
He introduced himself as Kapil, as in Kapil Dev, the great Indian cricketer. “But call me Kap. Everybody does,” he said. He told me he was a banker, adding that he is ”between jobs.” That’s like a lot of bankers in Hong Kong during the global financial crisis that never seemed to end. He had a British accent of indeterminate provenance, and I asked him where he was from. “Harrow,’ he said. “Just outside London. I was born and raised there but have spent most of my working life in Asia – Singapore, Tokyo and now Hong Kong.”
I finished my coffee and was about to depart when Kap’s wife appeared with their four-year-old son. The boy rushed to his dad for a cuddle, and then produced a painting from his backpack. He pushed it across the table for Kap’s approval.