In the autumn of 2004 I found myself suddenly relocating to Belgium, at the expense of an attractive job offer in Italy. It was one of those major forks in the road, the kind of big decision that could transform a life. Which, for better or for worse, is exactly what it did.
“Mister Lie-ton, so nice to see you!” he purred in his thick, strangely charming sticky-toffee-pudding-voice. Extending his hairy ape-like arms towards me, I returned the gesture as he locked me into that familiar bear hug, an endearing staple of any Zaid visit. “Happy Birthday!” I cried and he could only chuckle in reply, his cheeks turning just a touch red. “Thank you Lie-ton, thank you”.