"Hey, Jan, what do you want to drink?" he asks softly with his face slightly turned.
He's always quiet when he enters the room where I'm working, and he always wears the same dirty gray blouse.
Abdul is 23 years old and works for the coffee shop from 10 in the morning till 12 at night. He is the extension of the shop and supplies everybody in and around the gallery with hot coffee, lemon juice and tea. As he walks into the room where I'm working he shakes my hand and asks me what I want to drink.
Today I ask him about his daily routine and future plans. He wakes up at around 9, washes and goes to the coffee shop, which takes an hour to 45 minutes by minibus. When work is finished at around 12 or 12:30 at night he goes home and hangs out with his friends before going to sleep in the room he rents.
He was trained to be an accountant but was not permitted to work in that capacity in Cairo since he is originally from a small town in Upper Egypt. He tried to get some contract work in Kuwait, but again this initiative got bogged down in paperwork. When I ask him why he doesn't go back to his hometown he says he would like to go back, but since there is not enough land to grow food for the whole family and no prospect of a job he is forced to try his luck somewhere else.
Earlier I asked him what his favorite moment of the day was. He said it's when it gets busy at work and he manages to give everyone a drink without forgetting anything. But later, as we wrap up our conversation, he returns to my question because he realizes his favorite time of day isn't at work but late at night, when he's alone in his room, listening to his cassettes and thinking about all the things that come to mind.