This morning I woke up at 9am. Shit. Late for class. Did the sniff test to see which of my clothes emitted the least detectable odor. Settled on jeans and a rumpled pink shirt. I need to do laundry…
Decided to be an extra five minutes late and stopped at my favorite roadside stand for a manaeesh zaatar wah khudra (hot bread sprinkled with zaatar and filled with fresh khudra – vegetables (tomato, cucumber, radish, pickles, fresh mint, olives, etc)) – basically an Arabic breakfast burrito. YUM. And don’t judge me on the extra five minutes – I don’t function well without breakfast and it’s only 750 Lebanese Lira – a whopping 50 cents. HEAVEN!
Crumbs decorating my already questionably clean shirt I rushed into class after making a mandatory stop in the bathroom to mop the sweat off my face. Walking into class, as you can imagine, I looked…lovely. Ear to ear grin, I gave a warm ‘sabah-hall khair!’ (good morning!) to my teacher, Nadia, who gave me that knowing grin that all my teachers throughout the history of my adult life have given me when I inevitably clumsily stumble into class, late as usual.
Two hours later, proud of the progress I’d made in class, I met Omar for a coffee at Costa where we he taught me how to text in Arabic. Despite the fact that all phones here have Arabic letters written alongside the English letters, everyone seems to text in the English, Latin-based alphabet, instead of using the Arabic alphabet – Arabic words written out phonetically with numbers substituting the sounds that don’t translate. For example, the ‘H’-ish sound in the word ‘rooH’ (to go), is texted as a ‘7’ – roo7. The guttural ‘aiyn’ sound, is texted as a ‘3,’ etc. It’s weird and complicated, but an essential thing to know in a world where texting is the standard way of communicating.
I left Omar around noon, and caught a taxi over to Dowra (area on the outskirts of Beirut) to check on my beloved ‘kom-pew-tair’ as they call it over here in Libnan. My cab driver quickly picked up that I was foreign and proceeded to give me Arabic lessons all the way to Dowra.
Him: ‘Where are we now?’
Me: ‘In Lebanon.’
Him: ‘La! (No!) Be Libnan.’
Me: (Laughing) ‘Okay, be Libnan’
Him: ‘Maabrook habibti! Btheki Arabe!’ (Congratulations darling! You speak Arabic!)
Me: (Still laughing) ‘Shukrun!’ (Thanks!)
Him: ‘Inti Libnanieh?’ (Are you Lebanese?)
Me: ‘Eh, immi libnanieh.’ (Yeah, my Mom’s Lebanese)
Him: (switching over to French) Et t’a un fiancé? (And you have a fiancé?)
I have discovered that inquiring minds in Lebanon always want to know if you’re engaged. In fact, the masculine and feminine forms of the word ‘engaged’ were two of the first I learned when I arrived in Beirut. He proceeded to tell me that he had a lovely Muslim son in his late 20s who loves girls who laugh. I declined, as politely as I could, the following generous offer of a blind date with said son just as we arrived in Dowra. I claimed to be a devout Christian but if his son was willing to convert….The only proven way I have yet discovered to end such conversations. An, ‘aw, tant pis!’ ended that conversation dead in its tracks. Phew! Narrow escape. And I climbed out of the cab and hurried over to the computer shop where my computer has been living this past week.
Ah, good news! My computer is up and running again! So happy!! I’m well aware that it’s no exceptional breakthrough, but I hadn’t realized how completely dependent I am upon this stupid rectangular machine. A new hard-drive + $100 + 6 interesting taxi rides back and forth to Dowra proved to be the answer to all my problems and now I’m up and running again without a care in the world! Inshallah! Now, time for a shower, and maybe I’ll do some of that laundry…