15 February 2012 § 1 Comment
Usually, I love nothing more than engaging in a long, meandering conversation about life, politics and everything after with a Cairo taxi driver. Many of my female friends here seem to eschew this, on the basis of some sort of belief that encouraging conversation will encourage other, less desirable behavior. I don’t know. I’ve always been lucky in this respect, as my cabbies always seem to just want to “fad fad” – get a few things off their chest and exchange ideas.
This morning, however, I got into my taxi to work with my finger stuck as a placeholder in my finally obtained copy of Love, Inshallah, and I wanted nothing more than for the cabby to be quiet so that I could finish the story in which I was currently enmeshed. (Remember when I posted the call on this here site nearly a year ago? And then I gamely submitted a piece thinking there’s no way I’d be selected? And then I was. Although, the more I read the book the more I wonder what the editors saw in my twee little tale. Readers of this blog (all one of you) will easily be able to pick out which piece is mine.)
Anyway, despite the fact that I was clearly not interested in talking this morning, the young cabby clearly had a lot on his mind, and dove right in with a series of invasive questions. “How are you this morning?” “Fine.” “You’re not Egyptian, are you?” “Yes, I am.” “But you have a funny accent. You must have lived abroad?” “Yes.” “It’s just that you talk so funny.” “Ok.” (Usually, this is where I provide a falsely cheery explanation of how I lived abroad until 7 years ago (wait, now 8!) and how I’ve worked as a translator so take that! And how I understand Arabic perfectly well, despite the fact that I sound like a khawaga when I speak. See? I am going to make a joke now, and we will laugh and you will realize that I’m a very awesome bint balad.) But this morning, I was not having it because I was too busy reading about the intricacies of “the dip”. (Get your hands on a copy of the book. You’ll understand.)
Despite my obvious disinterest the dude would not let up. And he insisted on talking to me about politics and the state of the country, and then randomly asked, “Are you married? Do you have children? Wait, why don’t you have children yet? You must be newly married. No? Rabina yihdiki.” “Is your husband Egyptian? Why didn’t you marry an Egyptian?” “Naseeb, ya akhi!“
This is probably the point where I should have cut off conversation with a stern tone and gotten out of the taxi, but I was almost at the office by this point, and also by this point (6 months since moving back to Egypt), I have heard these comments about my marriage to a Farangi and my lack of children after *gasp* over a year of marriage that I’m just done with feeling anything about it. I mean, if I can survive my uncle asking – in front of the entire extended family, mind you – about my husband’s virility over some Eid kahk, and then playing the “your-father’s-dying-and-wants-to-hold-a-grandchild-in-his-arms-before-he-does” card, then incessant questions from nosy cabbies really ain’t no thang.
All this is to say – after a blissfully peaceful 10 months in England, we are back in Cairo and experiencing what it means to be a married couple here. And let me tell you it’s all fun and games until an old Salafi in Tahrir accuses your husband (dressed in his “I love Egypt” t-shirt) of being a “foreign journalist.”