Fe baytoona regl

Having a mother in the house has proved highly inimical to blogging, and in fact to all and any activity outside:

Watching the Fatafeat cookery channel
Listening to complaints about dust
Listening to complaints about lack of grandchildren
Listening to snoring

She watched Bored at the Ring one night while I sat behind her, trying to block it out, and for two hours she delivered a series of remarks addressed to no one. I noted them down, for posterity:

Look at the power of the ring.

Oh no! Haye7’osho el myya! [They’ll go into the water]

Quick! Quick! Quick! Quick!

Dah ye7’awwaf sheklo dah [He’s frightening, that one]

Ya boy. [Jesus he’s ugly]

Yeeee. Oh my God. Look what he’s doing to him.

Ah look a bird took him away. That’s good.

“The Shire”


She’s got a marvellous voice.

Ya ommy. [Yikes]

No, it’s evil.

Yeeee 7aram. We23oo. [Poor things, they fell]

Fatafeat in particular has been the soundtrack to this state visit, and the mother has been particularly delighted with Chef Andrew, a corpulent, Chavvish, red-haired individual who announces during trailers that he is ‘masry-canady’ [Egyptian-Canadian] and that ‘el 3araby beta3na mkassar bass el 2akl mesh mkassar’ [our Arabic is crap but our food isn’t]. He also addresses his mother, saying ‘insh2allah enty mabsoota men el 2akl’ [I hope you’re happy with the food] which always sends my own mother into paroxysms of laughter mixed with choked comments about skipping the country because of the embarrassment of having a red-haired son who speaks appalling Arabic, which, quite frankly, is rich coming from her.

Her second favourite channel after Fatafeat is, inevitably, Rotana Zaman [Rotana Yesteryear]. For the first two weeks whenever she put it on she would cry out in delight ‘Allah! Bossy ya Amnesiac, film 2adeem!’ [Oh how nice! Look, Amnesiac, an old film!] until she proved Pavlov right and noticed a pattern.

We had another houseguest during my mother’s visit, a long lost cousin who was born in Egypt but left decades ago and now resides in Miami. He wore slip-on loafers without socks, which I thought was only allowed if one is a member of Wham. He also sported a variety of violently-hued V-neck sweaters one of which, he remarked, is the exact same shade of orange as the uniform sported by employees of a rubbish collection service in Cairo.

My mother shares with me an urge to create codenames for people, and the cousin did not escape this affliction. She recycled an old joke which revolves around the film ‘fe baytoona raglun’ [there is a man in our house], replacing homograph ragl (man) with regl (leg). The cousin became known as regl, as in ‘howa regl fein?’ [where’s leg?] and regl kharrag [leg’s gone out]. It was all harmless fun and we thought that he had forgotten all his Arabic anyway until my mother witnessed him conversing with a gentleman from west Sudan. Sudanese Arabic to my ears often sounds like it is being spoken underwater, but alas Regl demonstrated an alarming proficiency.

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