Saturday, February 2, 2008

In which I learn that “Hello, welcome to Egypt,” “You would like some oranges?” and “Nice day today,” all mean “Please marry me and have my children.”

As a woman, walking down the street in Egypt is an experience. You are constantly cat-called, and passing men make these soft clicking noises, like something you would use to summon a pet in the US. I’m not sure any of these men truly believe foreign women are going to pay attention to them. I think it’s more likely they’ve all heard the one story of a brother’s friend’s uncle’s cousin twice removed, who apparently married an American. So hey, it must be worth a try, right?

Apparently the fruit seller down the street is of this mindset. The other day I went to go buy some fruit for breakfast, and the man kept asking me, “Gowz? Gowz?” I didn’t know what it meant. I thought maybe it was another name for banana (mooz), and he was just pronouncing it differently. I just replied, “msh, msh,” which means no. I got back to my dorm and talked to the front desk manager, asking him what the man was saying. When I asked him what the word meant, he just burst out laughing. Apparently it means husband, and the man was proposing. Nice way to start the day, I suppose. Most of the people here are really friendly and completely harmless. I’m sure the catcalling will definitely get old after awhile, but I think of it more as one of the many colorful things that make the culture what it is; a daily tonic, if you will. A proposal a day keeps the doctor away? Perhaps.

2 comments:

Rusty said...

Getting cat called and marriage proposals from people that just see you on the street? Leah I wish I had your problems.

LuLu said...

hey who knew egyptian and spaniard men were exactly the same?! I miss you so much mi amor!