We stood under the eave of an old building but it was raining so hard that our feet were soaked from the water pouring off the overhang and the umbrellas. Meanwhile, a young couple came and stood in front of us and they were getting soaked as they stood waiting with the group. I felt sorry for them and tapped the young woman on the shoulder. She wore a hijab; he was dressed as any western man.
She accepted the offer to share my umbrella and the ride back to Vienna became much more interesting than any tour could provide. They were a young Kuwaiti couple; he was a student in engineering in Cardiff, Wales and like us, they were in Vienna on vacation, taking day trips to neighboring cities. As a young Muslim couple, they always researched the city they visited to be sure to find places to eat which followed their dietary laws. We looked for places frequented by locals.
Luckily for us, there was a huge traffic jam that day and the trip back to Vienna was much longer than usual. This gave us more time to talk which we really enjoyed. We learned about life in Kuwait, how it compares to Saudi Arabia, and their experience in Cardiff. Rick and I had been to Cardiff the previous year so we shared our experiences with them as well. We talked about life in Canada and our part of it, Newfoundland at that time.
Our lives were very similar really. While our cultures, religious beliefs and environments were very different, it soon became evident how much we had in common. Family was as important to them as it was to us. They valued Art, Music and Literature as well as Science and History like we did. What made us similar was so much more than what separated us. Four people who shared umbrellas figured out that fact in a few hours on a bus.
Borders meant nothing to us. Politics was meaningless. Learning about each other's lives was all that mattered. More people need to share umbrellas.