Sunday, 4 December 2011

Izzai ek, Habibi?

"Sabbah Al Khair", "Salaam Aleikum" and all that stuff. Ever since I've come to Al-Masr, most of my vocabulary has been rendered pointless - the English vocabulary at least. Some basic Arabic verbs, pointing and grunting help you fare better than elaborate expressions in English. In fact, in the very beginning, I could converse as well with a camel as I could with an average Arab here. And hence, in a desperate attempt to obviate (or at least delay) the onset of the "Me Anirudh; you who?" stage, I write this post.

The past two weeks have been a learning experience to say the least. From picking up basic phrases in Arabic and learning concepts which govern occurrences sixteen-thousand feet down-hole to mastering the art of picking up pipes which are heavier than most dumb-bells I lifted in the Roorkee Gym, there has been a fair amount of inflow into the grey-cell area. It has been a great knowledge sharing experience for the people around me too! For example, the other day I had to explain to a fellow that Hind was not near Mexique but near Pakistan. He found the information hard to digest but he managed a smile at the end of it all. And then, there have been numerous occasions where I've had to inform fellow members of the human race that Islam and Christianity aren't the only two religions available to mankind. Another stunning fact, no?

As ignorant as they may seem, Egyptians are really friendly people. They make an effort to talk to you slowly and explain things again and again until finally you gather the essence of what they're saying. They're open and warm too. In fact, Egyptians impose their opinions upon strangers all the time. It's not something they consider rude. And they can barge into your room and then ask you  if it's okay to come in. You can do the same to them, of course. They're a welcome change actually after all the stuck-up foreigners we get to see.

And then, there's the food! Salads and salads and a few salads more... There's olive oil, rice, bread and meat. These guys eat everything - from camels to pigeons. My 'bland' diet alarms them as much as a Vampire's would. I never thought I'd say this about salads, but they're quite delightful.

It's all a mix of the fun of discovery and the discomfort of change - something every travel is about, I suppose; the same bittersweet feeling that passes through you when the sun is about to set over a lonely oil rig in the desert. You know it's going a brilliant sight. But then again, it's going to get so cold!


  1. Dude...Welcome to the world of Oil !!

  2. Eat camel meat. Yum!
    Also, for your hair fall, camel pee helps. Or so say desperate baldies.

  3. Nice and light I must say. Was not difficult picturing you and 'camel conversation'. Good that Schlum is taking you to places you would have been less likely to visit yourself.N Happy arabic.. do learn their songs.

  4. Yes, Salads are delightful. Much more than that god-knows-which fish sauce I ate!

  5. Harshit, I had a 27 hour welcome yesterday.
    Anunaya, whatever man...
    Shalu, All their songs go 'Habibi' or 'Habibti'... They're easy :) (Facebook updates later)
    Prachi, Fish, chicken, mutton, prawns... I've sinned a lot :(