06 August 2007

Miscellaneous Bits & Pieces

Some general observations that don’t really fit anywhere else…
  • I saw a McDonald’s delivery motorcycle (Big Macs by bike!) on the streets. Also a KFC delivery cycle. Helmets are required by law for motorcyclists but I’ve seen few people wearing them.
  • I’ve picked up about 5 words/phrases in Arabic since I’ve been here:
    Shakrun - thank you
    La - no
    Aywa - yes – it sounds like “Iowa” which is how I found out about it. One of the people I talked with asked which state I was from and when I told her, she told me that means “yes” in Arabic
    Habibi - my love, darling, honey, etc. – when I was with Shaimaa and her husband we were listening to Arabic music and Saimaa told me that half the songs are about being in love (and contain the word ‘habibi’) while the other half are about breaking up.
    Yala - let’s go

Shima said “it’s so cute” when I try to say things in Arabic. I’m guessing that means I don’t do it very well.

  • The bathroom I have in my hotel is very European. It has a European style toilet…no bowl to speak of and the flush button is on the wall with capability for ‘full flush’ or ‘half flush’. It also has a bidet next to the toilet and a hand shower in the tub. Un-European-like, it also has a wall-mounted shower.
  • In a restaurant, a group came in…several men, a boy and a woman in a burkha. It was the kind of burkha that just has a slit for the eyes. I wondered how she was going to be able to eat with that thing and I tried not to stare while finding out. She pinned the veil part of the covering up on her head but draped it so that she had her face exposed but only on the side away from the men. She was seated against the wall, facing the back of the restaurant. I was the only person who could see her. At one point, one of the men handed a camera to the waiter and wanted a picture of the group. The woman just kept eating. No one spoke to her. It was like she wasn’t there. She did talk to someone on a cell phone for a bit though.
  • I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t know what an “Egyptian looking” person is. When Shaimaa and I were at the Village having mango juice, she was telling me who was Lebanese, Saudi, etc. When we were sitting at the Grand Café, I was looking at all the people and trying to guess if they were Egyptian or not. I was pretty bad at it. What I think of as “Egyptian looking” is fairly dark-skinned and certain facial features. While there are some that meet that criteria, the actual skin tones range from almost as light as me to very dark brown. Most are dark-eyed but Ibrahim has blue eyes. Sherif and a number of others are very tall and lean but some are shorter than me. In short, there is no “Egyptian looking.”