Independent me!

Today after class I went to the grocery store all by myself!  I think there may be one closer to my house, but I went to one that was closer to Kalimat, but on the way home.  My immediate family can tell you: I do not shop well, ESPECIALLY grocery shop.  Let me tell you, it's way harder in a different language and when you need to make sure you can carry all of your purchases.  BUT IT DID IT!  I got a lighter (but I still don't know how to light my stove).  I got dish and washing machine detergent... I think I did anyway.  There seem to be more additives than detergents on the market and I really couldn't tell the difference between them.  I also got some frozen corn.  I really want to eat the fruits and veggies here, but I am waiting for my stomach to adjust.  I figures frozen corn that needs to be cooked it is a nice sterile compromise to I get some veggies in my diet.  I also stopped by a little tiny minimarket by my house for water this morning.  I hoping to get in good with the men who work there so they will keep the little boys and shabeb (young men) from calling after me.

At first I didn't want to tell the story that follows because I didn't want Mom to worry, but I think it is a good cultural lesson for others coming to Egypt.  This is about clothes.  I wear black skinny jeans and t-shirts most of the time.  I have been specifically wearing not tight t-shirts these past few days, and I haven't been bothered other than a couple of awkward stares.  Yesterday I wore a tank top with an unbuttoned long sleeve over shirt.  No cleavage or anything, but still.  "Too much collar-bone?" I asked Sherif before we went out.  He thought it may be fine for going to class on the normal routes.  A few minutes after going outside he said, "Maybe I was a little too  optimistic about the shirt..." What surprised me was that the Egyptian boys were making stupid faces, and hollering at me when I was clearly walking with another Egyptian guy.  Have they no dude code???  I asked Sherif if he would fight for my honor.  He responded that if the kids got really out of line he would walk me home first and then come back and fight them.  I found this response unsatisfying.  If I can't fight for my honor, I at least want to watch when someone else does and maybe get a shot in.  "That's not very nice," Sherif said.  I don't think sexual harassment in the street is very nice either, but I didn't belabor the point.  Ultimately, the walking home bit is for the protection of the girl in case the cat-caller's friends turn up.  That walk with Sherif was a good little social experiment, and I was glad I tried the outfit with him and not when I went out alone.

So the cat-calling is unpleasant, but not too bad, especially if you dress mildly.  The only upsetting thing, is that I feel like I owe it to woman-kind to tell these guys off or sock them in the face.  I'm pretty sure even the Egyptian girls just have to take it.  No worries concerned family, I don't plan on starting any fights, especially not so close to my house.  I am going to do this strategically.  I'm going to be a good customer of the minimarket near my house and then as the man in charge to reign in the boys who hang out there.  Once I am a regular face there I think a firm "BESS" (enough) to the boys be acceptable.

I think it's interesting:  Sherif keeps telling me that I'm in a really nice neighborhood, but if my mom was here she would be mortified.  (She may be consoled slightly by the terrifying gate around my house and padlocked inner gate.)  As it stands I am quite happy with my area, but it certainly isn't Northwest DC, and that's fine by me.

This weekend (today, Thursday, was the last day of the work week) I am off to 6 October to see Hagar and my host family.  I think I may even get to see my host sister's ballet recital!

No comments:

Post a Comment