Before anything else: the electronic music festival was a blast. We danced, we sweated, one of the DJ’s wore a gigantic mythical bird helmet, it was free, there were no injuries that I know of (though I did hit someone while I was dancing), and no one got an accidental boyfriend. All in all, a great success. I even got to use some of my sweet hip hop moves.
Onto more pressing matters. We’ve been having issues with our landlady regarding ‘irsh or dinero or money. We first met our landlady and her daughter about a week ago, shortly after we moved in. The landlady’s daughter, a student, was extremely nice and spoke excellent English. The landlady herself, on the other hand, a stout woman of about fifty or sixty, was a little brisk and wore sunglasses the entire time she was in our apartment. She didn’t speak very much English and what little she did know she shouted at us (VEDY GOOD).
When transactions are being conducted in translation or in Arabic, there is always a chance that something has gone awry. Right before they left, the landlady asked us for 100 pounds to give to the bowab and to pay for some other expenses in the building. The bowab is the man who “guards” the door and runs errands for the tenants and stuff like that. They’re a part of Egyptian culture, usually living a very sparse life on little money, and subsisting oftentimes on bread, eggs, and pickles. It’s important to have a good relationship with the bowab because they’re the ones who can either make your life miserable or be a great person to practice Arabic with.
Long story short, the money never reached the bowab. Furthermore, it wasn’t clear what we had actually paid for. Over the course of several telephone calls with both the landlady and her daughter, it was said the money was for a) the bowab and utilities for the building, b) our utilities and the building’s utilities c) the bowab and our utilities d) just the building’s utilities. What’s going on here? What are these games?
So….I called her daughter today and we’re going to set up a time to meet together, all five of us plus an Egyptian guy associated with the program (I told her that there would be a man in our apartment. Her mother conceded after a short conference.) On the bright side, I am now completely knowledgeable about the concept of paying for utilities. The daughter told me at least five times with different examples: “When you take a shower, you use water and you need to pay for that. When you clean the floor, you use water that and in Egypt we have to pay for these things” Ohhhhhh……I thought it was sent directly from heaven in a golden chariot. I guess I need to pay for your mother’s Krispy Kreme habit too with the money she’s squeezing out of us.
Hopefully this will turn out okay in the end and we’ll all be able to be facebook friends. We shall see…..
[…] bowab (see previous post) and one bowab’s brother. Both are respectable gentlemen currently employed in […]