Mira and I went to a birthday party for one of Mira's friends on Thursday. I was hesitant to go because for whatever reason I think I don't get along very well with Egyptian women, but I went anyway. (It is my own insecurities coming out.) Mira's friend's mother, Ola, is just as delightful as can be, and of course she is Egyptian, and she sews, which is something we have in common. She is very welcoming.
One of her cousins, Nahla, was there. I looked at her and thought "Oh my goodness, what am I going to talk about with this woman." Actually, we really hit it off. She is Lebanese/Egyptian, her husband is Lebanese, they have a place in Rehab being built, and they are currently living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She made me feel so comfortable, told me about life in Riyadh and how women gather everyday - every morning to have coffee, talk about their lives, problems, successes, etc. She explained that women in Saudia cannot drive - something everyone knows about, so the best thing they do is shop. Whenever they go out, they must be in full niquab, which she doesn't like because she cannot see through the veil, and stumbles everytime.
We were talking about music and the newest Arabic songs. Since I cannot understand many of the songs, I usually like a song by its melody. They asked me my husband's name, and I said "Hassan." They said, "Well, there are a lot of love songs out right now about Hassan. You ought to learn them and have a little romance." I blushed.
Arabic/Muslim women are very conservative on the outside, but get them in a room or a party with only women and all the stereotypes disappear. It was very refreshing and I felt relieved.
I keep explaining to Egyptians that Americans talk about anything and everything, we are not shy when it comes to conversation. There are no "taboos" in American society. Well, if there are any I'm not aware of it.
On another note, Debbie and I went shopping recently and when we were shopping a man asked me where I was from. I said America, and then I told him that my husband is Egyptian. He turned to his friend smiling and said "She's looking for an Egyptian husband." His friend said "No, she said her husband is Egyptian." They both looked at me and smiled. Of course I didn't know what they said (Debbie translated). Debbie said everytime we go out an Egyptian man talks to me, as though he's interested in me. She told me I need to wear niquab or at least an abaya (a long coat). I cannot dress anymore frumpy when I go shopping, believe me.
A few days later I was with a dear friend of mine, and they told me that I don't need to worry; because I am in hijab it is my protection. No one will ever say anything disrespectful to me. I forget I am even wearing hijab; I don't even feel it anymore - it has finally become a part of who I am - a part of my personality. Alhamdulillah.
I am finally comfortable living here - every opportunity and experience brings me to a new level of contentment.