OK, so Hassan's best friend, Shabaan, has helped us with absolutely everything we have in our home. This man is better than gold. I don't know what's better than gold, but he's it.
Last week he spoke with Hassan and said he would help me get my international driver's license so I can drive in the US. Yes, I have an Egyptian driver's license (can you believe I drive in this place?!) but I need a license to drive in the US too -- my Maryland license expired a year ago.
So yesterday, Shabaan called and said he was coming over to pick up my documents to take them to the place where he'll try to get me the license. I asked him if he needed me to come along, he said no, if he needs me, he'll call me. Everything in Egypt is done by connections, connections. Shabaan knows people in all places; and believe me that's a lot of people.
One day we were shopping for chandeliers in Attaba (a really crowded shopping area of Cairo). We just happened to pull into a parking space along the street - we were quite lucky, and all of a sudden Shabaan shakes the hand of someone he knew. It's a big city, but a small town. It's amazing.
Anyways, when Shabaan came to the apartment last night I gave him the documents and invited him in. He didn't want to come in and sit. It is customary in Egypt for men not to be in the homes of married women without their husbands. It goes against Islam, although it doesn't bother me and I don't think anything of it. I mean come on, I'm American, I'm used to mixing with men and women equally. Maybe this is why I have such a different outlook living here. It doesn't matter if I am in hijab or not. I have always felt more comfortable talking with men than a lot women -- no matter where I am in the world. Some of us are just "that way."
In Islam, the strict Muslims - well, what I consider strict, husbands do not allow their wives to go out of the home without a "mahram" meaning a male escort -- a male escort who is a family member. OK, if this were the case with me, I'd never go anywhere. I am not of that frame of mind, although I could see the need, being fair skinned and blue-eyed (ok, my brownish, red hair) and even in hijab I'm still gawked at by men, but I think it's more of a fascination and curiosity than anything else. (Layla can corroborate my story). I am finding out that this is why a lot of American women wear niquab (the full veil) over their entire bodies. However, once their voices are heard by Egyptian men, they start talking anyways. It is even more fascinating to them because they see the full veil but the American voice. Now, I'm not stereotyping here, please don't misunderstand me, but this has been my experience in most situations.
Insha'Allah Shabaan will be able to get my license without me needing to be with him. Otherwise it's an all day event running around; I don't mind, it's something I need to get done.