Luckily, she didn’t ask if they had any Swedes instead

My mother – who is currently lighting up Egypt with her presence – was propositioned only five days into her trip here, which isn’t bad for a senior citizen.

I was not privy to the exchange, because I was slightly ahead of her in a foggy rage after madam refused to get in a flamin taxi and I was forced to carry home industrial size bottles of bleach and General detergent. Apparently, some bloke asked her, “3owzeen 3arab?” [do you want Arabs?] Was it the attractive 45 degree tilt of my right shoulder? Or my mother’s purple duvet coat?

It might have had something to do with the newly polished state of both our heads, for less than an hour earlier we had been at the barbers. We went to one of those super duper extra posh places where woman call their hairdressers ‘cheri’ and don’t take their sunglasses off when they’re having their hair washed.

Getting my hair cut is just above dying in the list of things I least like doing and last week’s visit confirmed its excruciating painfulness. I was given to Ihab, who was a queen of momentous proportions and pronounced his Ts like ‘chee’ without any hint of irony. He lamented my scalp’s sad state of disrepair (which had become apparent when two people were required to comb it. My hair has recently acquired the texture of hangers stuck together). ‘Entchee mohmela sha3rek’ [you’re neglecting your hair] Ihab admonished me through pursed lips, before attempting to persuade me to cut a layered fringe.

I was then forced to stand up and not allowed to move my head while he attacked it with scissors and violently swung my face back into position whenever it moved a millimetre and told me that he had entered makeup artistry and hairdressing because ‘ana fanaan wel wesh tableau’ [I’m an artist and the face is a canvas] to which I had nothing at all to respond with and weakly asked if I could sit down.

I thought the mental and physical torture would end when I eventually did sit down. Alas not. While using his hairdryer to give my scalp 3rd degree burns he asked me ‘entchee 3arfah laih lazem takhchee balek men sha3rek?’ [do you know why you should take care of your hair?] ‘3alashan atgowwez?’ [so I can get married?] I mumbled thinking that any old crap would end the conversation. He looked at me in the mirror scornfully and said ‘Maho ana mesh 3owez atgowwez wana wakhed baaly men sha3ry’ [I don’t want to get married and I take care of my hair] – which was debatable because he had the beginnings of a mullet. It turned out that we should take care of our hair because if we don’t take care of our hair the split ends creep up and up entangle themselves round our brains while we sleep and we are cast out of respectable society as a result and forced to live with woman who have moustaches.

Ihab got his revenge in the end, when I made the fatal mistake of allowing him to blow-dry my hair as he saw fit. The result is not something I wish to dwell on, but suffice to say my mother’s comments were: “did you mean it to look like that?” and “hello, Farah Fawcett gone wrong!”

She herself ended up with a Hilary Clinton helmet-style hairdo and serves her right.

I recovered from the hair experience by going to watch a Nubi vs. Sa3di soundclash in Wikalet el-Ghoury. It was DOUBLE WOWZERS BLAZERS and involved loads of drumming and mawwal and Nubi dancing and bafflingly, all this wickedness was for zero pounds and null pence.

Here are some pictures what I took with my camera. Notice the 4th picture, where the man in the foreground with his back to the camera is about to take a free kick, and the bloke on the right is protecting the crown jewels.

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49 Responses to Luckily, she didn’t ask if they had any Swedes instead

  1. Ahmed Al-Sabbagh says:


    i like your blog


  2. fully_polynomial says:


    i imagine your mom’s presence in egypt is cause for a lot of bloggable material, no? if so, i can hardly wait!

  3. Amir says:

    “ana fanaan wel wesh tableau”
    Hilarious, i can just picture a guy with 3 pounds of wax in his hair, skinny jeans, and some nasty facial hair uttering that comment. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud in my property law class when I read that. Your back!

  4. Forsoothsayer says:

    it actually sounds like it might look nice. anyway, kollaha ghasla. is the cut nice? i want a really decent haricut and to keep my shades on.

  5. Amnesiac says:

    Ahmed: Good.

    Thank you.

    Fully P: I imagine so, unfortunately.

    Amir: He had that disgraceful single stripe of hair between his top lip and his chin.

    Forsooth: He did actually give me a nice cut, but I refused the fringe.

  6. Gayyash says:

    ana fannaan wel wesh tableau…

    perfect. my mom will love this one. and as for nubian excellence:

    nice post.

  7. Amnesiac says:

    I went to a Hamza memorial concert last year. It was stupendous, particularly his nephew, Karam. This is the actual concert:

    Another wicked song:

    Thanks for Poo Tube video.

  8. Gayyash says:

    nice i’d never heard his nephew. good to know someone will be carrying on what he started. check out nancy ajaj, diasporic sudanese singer:

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