A Journal of chimeras (brief postings that vanish)

Copyright Mel. White, 2011-2020

Thursday, October 8, 2015

I Know Ten Words In Arabic and I'm Not Afraid To Use Them

I spent six months trying to learn Arabic (fairly unsuccessfully), but I've been using the few phrases and words that I learned on everyone.  I'm trying to learn (or re-learn) a new one every day.  Sadly, one of the necessary phrases is "get away from me" - every charm seller and trinket seller along the Nile is desperate to see tourist money, and some of them get rude and aggressive and won't take "no."  There were two women today who managed to irk many of us.  They sold scarves, and the "hook" was "by women, for women, won't you support a sister?"  They wanted to sell as many as they could, so they got impatient with some of the women who were trying to buy (they wanted to make a 3 second sale and then run to "hassle" (that's what the Egyptians call it) another woman.)  I would have bought a scarf on the way back but their aggressive approach turned me off.

The ship itself has a little store with a vendor who will haggle for prices.  He lets you come in (really, you're a captive audience since you're on the ship and he's there, too) and look and ask questions.  Our tour guide mentioned him, and Bruce bought a gabeyaah (man's robe) from him.  I've gone in to look at things, and others have also bought from him.  Those of us on the tour understand that these little vendors are eager to sell and do need the income, but when they flock around you and won't take "no" for an answer, it's off-putting.

The first day (at Giza) it was amusing.  By now, it's not.

Bruce has acquired souvenirs, including the now-famous "one eared cat."  Someone bought a large-ish (1 foot tall) statue of Bast, but when they tucked it in their bag, it knocked against something and lost an ear.  The husband and wife were on the bus with Bruce (I think I was off climbing around a pyramid at the time) and the husband held it up and in best vendor manner called, "I have nice cat for sale!  Only one dollah!"

Bruce yelled "20 cents!"  ... and ended up with the one-eared cat, which he gave to me (I think we may need another suitcase!)  He added "buyer of one-eared cats" to his self-inflicted persona name on his name tag (he calls himself "Abu Abyad' (Grandfather White))

I have also acquired souvenirs... mine are more expensive.  I have a silver amulet of Sekhmet, who wards off plagues, and a book by Hawass that's basically a catalog of items on display in the Cairo Museum (which I can excuse as a book for my classes.)

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