We met Sami at the Duomo grounds in Florence. Slightly hunched, he sat on his foldable aluminium chair, contemplating.

One among the several street artists who have put up their colors on display at this popular tourist attraction, he had his canvases on the modified easel, which depicted scenes from the Tuscan countryside, with Brunelleschi's dome pervasive and strikingly visible on most of them. Landscape format paintings for your living room wall or postcard size ones for your work desk, not too big and not too small, he had all the in-demand sizes for tourists with space constraints in their handbags or checked-in luggages. 

His visage openly screamed out his arab lineage, and Shams struck a conversation with him in arabic. Pleased to meet a fellow-artist and arabic speaker, what followed was an outpour of his personal life struggles.

 It has been thirty years since Sami, a trained sculptor from Baghdad, reached the Italian coasts. He's never been home since then, he says. Whether he never saved up a lot to go home or he had reasons not to go home, I am not clear. But he misses his wife and kids back home. 

Sami does not like to paint for money, he does not like to do caricature for money, but he must, else he has no money. The classic dilemma of the artist.

 Eagerly, he shows us his sketches and painting, framed and kept in black plastic holders, which can easily be packed up in a black suitcase, as he heads back home for the day. 

 The external self is indeed a caricature of our true inner self....