Pulling rank in Dahab

Dahab’s waterfront.

“Hello Captain James! Was the wind good?”

“Excellent, thanks, Mohammed,” I replied, returning from a day’s windsurfing at the lagoon.

Being a creature of habit, during my various visits to Dahab in Egypt I always stayed at the same hostel, a ragged collection of bamboo huts in a scruffy compound a short walk away from the beachfront.

Each hut only had a single ceiling fan and a solitary light bulb, and were prone to get roasting hot, but they were cheap as chips and the staff, such as Mohammed, were always friendly, so that’s where I always went.

Mohammed, who was in his early thirties to my early twenties, didn’t know I was in the army but had taken to calling me Captain James every time I turned up to stay.

I never asked him why he called me it. I kind of liked it, so I left it at that. And sometimes I wondered what he’d make of the truth.