Thursday, April 13, 2006

A funny thing happened . . .

A funny thing happened when we were buying our balcony furniture on Monday which was a holiday - the Prophet's (saw) birthday.

We were downtown on Ramses Street where a lot of bamboo (rattan) furniture dealers are located. I was sitting in the car waiting for Hassan and Shabaan to finish giving the deliveryman directions to our flat. They were parked two cars ahead of us. Hayam - Shabaan's wife, wasn't feeling well (sinus problems). She was in the backseat closing her eyes and Mira and Maryam (Hayam's daughter) were playing in the back of the car while little Malak (Hayam's little baby) was sleeping.

A youngish looking man - maybe in his late 20's early 30's walked in front of the car and made eye contact with me. Of course, me being the person that I am, smiled at him. Big mistake. He walked over to my side of the car (and me seeing him out of the corner of my good eye - haha), and stood there. I saw him but didn't want to make eye contact with him because it was a strange situation about to get even stranger. The man walked up to my car door - the window was down, and asked me my name. He said "Welcome to Egypt." I responded with a polite thank you. He introduced himself as "Engineer" - somebody - can't remember his name. Everyone here has a title - "Mohandiss" is "Engineer" so just about everyone is either a "mohandiss" or "doctor." Then he reached out to shake my hand and I shook his hand and then he went to kiss my hand. I pulled my hand back. Of course Hassan didn't see anything - his back was to me, but thank goodness Shabaan saw, told Hassan, and Hassan came and asked the man what he wanted then asked him to move along. The man said all he wanted was to welcome me to Egypt. Yeah, right. OK so I'm overweight and have gray streaks running through my hair -- best of all, I wasn't even wearing make-up that day. I guess it just doesn't stop some people. The man walked off - Alhamdulillah.

Then I started to think in a stereotypical type of way -- maybe it's a defense mechanism -- do Egyptian - Arab men think "western" or "American" looking women are easy? Who knows. I don't wear hijab or long sleeves when it gets hot, but at the same time I don't wear shorts either. I'm trying my best to dress modestly and compromise on my clothing, but I just don't seem to feel comfortable.

I've thought about wearing hijab and will probably wear it somewhere along the line. This is a different blog topic altogether which I will write about as the weather gets warmer.




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