Thursday, June 17, 2010

Assorted moments . . .

Hey Guys,

Once again, it has been forever since the last time I blogged. Oops . . .

Here's a collection of anti-cultural anecdotes from the last few days:

I had to go to another town the other day to pick up some scuba equipment that I'd loaned to a friend. It was a really busy day, and I hadn't had time to eat anything. I stopped off at the first store I found and bought a sandwich. You know, one of those saran-wrapped ones that's guaranteed fresh some time this month. I was wandering down the street munching on my sandwich when I realized something . . . HAM IN MY SANDWICH!! I was eating pig, the forbidden animal. There aren't even any pigs in this country. How did I manage to find a ham sandwich in Egypt of all places?! In case you're curious, yes, I did finish my sandwich! :)

I visited a friend yesterday to fix his computer. It breaks every couple of weeks, so he invites me over at least twice a month. I'd fixed it, and we were sitting around drinking tea. There was a knock at the door, and a bunch of guests came in. One guy, and all the rest were women. Half of them were wearing the ni'qab and half were wearing a complete shroud. Okay, now you guys need to read the cultural lesson so the rest of this story makes sense.

(Cultural lesson - The general rule around here is that you don't speak to a woman that you're not related to. The main exception is if you're buying or selling something. There are also three main types of coverings that women wear here. There's the head-scarf, which basically just covers their hair. Then there's the ni'qab, which covers both the hair and the face. And finally there's the complete shroud, which covers everything. I'm not kidding . . . everything! You don't know if you're dealing with a 20 year old or an 80 year old. Generally speaking, the more completely a woman is covered here, the more strict she is in her religious beliefs.)

That being established, my friend invited everyone in and introduced me to all of them. The guy came over to shake my hand, which was totally normal. Then all of the women came over, greeted me, and shook my hand. It was a very awkward moment. I remember thinking, "I'm not even supposed to be in the same room with you, definitely not supposed to talk to you, and absolutely not supposed to touch you." It was just a very strange moment. I asked my friend if he wanted me to leave, but he said no. So I hung out for a little while longer, then left. I still have no idea what was going on.

Okay, that's it for now. Hope you guys are all having fun. Don't forget to root for the USA in the World Cup. We play Slovenia tomorrow and Algeria on the 23rd.

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