The Unlikely Cartographers of Turnhout

Two weeks ago, I had dinner with a friend of mine, M at my favourite Greek restaurant. At some point during the meal , we spied a black guy who peered in at us every time he passed by (rather too often). Although we thought it strange, we thought very little of it.
After dinner, full of energy and reluctant to return to our homes, we decided to go for drinks at a café near by. After about half an hour, the same black guy entered , ordered a glass of coca-cola and sat across from us. He did not say a word to either M or me. We ignored him, and he had two glasses of coca-cola and left. M let out a sigh of relief and said, I thought we were being stalked. We continued to enjoy our evening out without much thought of the man.
When the café closed, we went over to Franco’s, a really cosy wine bar across the road with an ebullient Italian host. An hour later the same black guy entered! He still did not talk to us. He sat down at a table near ours and ordered coca-cola again. Somehow whenever my friends and I arrive, Franco feels obliged to play “black music”. Rhianna. Alexander Burke. Beyonce. You get the drift. Mercifully he also plays- especially for us- a lot of Marley. As soon as he started to play Marley, the guy got up and started dancing. It looked as if Redemption Song was being played especially for him, as if it meant a lot more to him than we could ever imagine. He closed his eyes and danced around in a state of euphoria that could not have been brought about by the glass after glass of coca cola he had been drinking. It was obvious he was enjoying himself. That was when it hit me. He wasn’t stalking us, at least not in the way we had thought he was. He was simply using us as his cartographers to map out Turnhout Night life, even though it was obvious he was not visiting the city, but lived here.
My friends and I have always been the only black people at every café, every wine bar, every restaurant we’ve been to in Turnhout. It used to bother me before, but I have to admit that I got so used to it that I stopped noticing. Until that one night when we became the unlikely cartographers of the city to one probably lonely man. It must say something about the city though that its black population is locked out (for whatever reason) of its night life, but whatever it is it says , I haven’t got a single clue.
Last week we were at a tapas bar and the same black guy passed by again, and peered in. He caught my eye. I bet that tapas bar has gained a new client.