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Gayyash Al 'Aatifa

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Land of Milk and Play

My flight back to Cairo included a stopover in Kuwait. Waiting at the terminal before getting on the plane, I was surrounded by the largest number of Egyptians I had seen since February. I smiled at people, said salamo3aleiko, masa2 el kheir, eh el akhbar, ezay el 7al to whoever I felt I might connect with. I was so excited to be back in a space where I could talk freely to people. People are friendly in the US and India but there was no play in either. I was so happy to be heading back, and here it was, beginning.

Inside the plane I had gotten comfortable in my seat and others were still boarding. It was a Kuwait Airways flight but the cabin crew were all European looking and didn't seem to speak much Arabic. I later leanerd they were Swedish and had been hired through a personnel company on a four month contract. Or something.

A tall young man came down the aisle looking for his seat, his gym bag in one hand and his boarding pass in the other. "mesh 7ayenfa3 ma3ana el kalam da," he said out loud (this won't do). "el nabi 3arabi we kan byakol be2eedo. wenti 3ammala te2olelna 'twenty five'? mesh 7ayenfa3 keda." (The Prophet was an Arab, he used to eat with his hand. And you're here telling us 'twenty five'? This just won't do.)

His friend responded from the other aisle, several rows down. "wallahi enta bas elli shaklak mabsoot 3ashan 7atshoof ommak ennaharda." (I swear, I bet you're just all happy because you're seeing your mother today.)


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