On my second day in Egypt, I expected to see some people...or to be more specific, I expected some people to come see Mr. Boo, the nephew they'd never met.
I felt foolish.
I was sitting in my husband's family's flat with no family.
They didn't care.
This wasn't what I expected.
I had thought that my son would be welcomed better than that. Even his own father, when he called, was shocked.
So, I left.
OK, I couldn't leave the city. I was stuck there for a while. But I left the house---despite Mama's many misgivings. I had to just leave and get out and soak up some experiences of new and different.
Americans are way different than Egyptians. For one thing, Egyptians don't just take a stroll, or walk, for exercise. They walk to get somewhere only. I realized that I had to say where I was going, even if I had no idea. So I said I was going to the beautiful mosque down the street.
Turns out that it was Baba Ahmed's mosque. So, perhaps I really was meant to go there. I headed towards it and then found out that it was being renovated. No chance to get inside.
Why did I walk towards it?
Why was I pulled in that direction if I wasn't even able to go inside?
I walked on with my small son. Tried to convince him that the police in Egypt arrest fussy kids. He was maybe going to buy that until the policeman in white smiled at him lovingly.
We walked on. Block after block in the August heat...going nowhere. Was that a phone store? Closed.
I had made all that effort to cross the street ---and then the store was closed. But there was barber shop. Before we left the States, I had thought about Mr. Boo getting a haircut in Egypt. So, being both a little brave and a little stupid, I walked in the door.
I stood there...with my small son...and my little Arabic...and then realized that I was in over my head. I was alone with virtually no way to communicate. I tried to speak. I was interupted.
I traveled half way around the world--ambled around a big city led only by my inner compass and entered into a place I knew nothing about. Only to find that Saleh, an Egyptian man I knew from my hometown, was getting a haircut.
He bought us drinks and heard our story. Years ago, back in the States, Saleh had been one of AbuBoo's closest friends. He did not, however, agree with everything that had happened lately. He knew I'd been a good wife. Saleh was visibly shaken to learn that we had divorced. He couldn't believe any man would be stupid enough to try to go back to a ex-wife he'd divorced three times---especially that ex-wife.
Mr. Boo got a haircut (one of the worst of his life) and Saleh paid for it. I got his business card and agreed to call him if I needed anything. I took a picture of Saleh holding Mr. Boo. Later, I'd look at it with sadness thinking that the wrong man was holding him.
Yet, I had so much happiness at the "chance" meeting with Saleh. It wasn't about him as a person (though it was nice to talk). It was about the incredible plan of Allah. Who could imagine that I would follow an unseen path to lead me to such an amazing encounter?
When I returned home, Mama had company. It was my former sister-in-law, who had stayed with us for four months in the States. She had one of her sons along. I hadn't seen them since they flew back (mad as wet hens) and told everyone they had not been treated well (leftovers; yardwork; no socializing past 11).
My former sister-in-law was happy to see her nephew again, as was her son. They goo-goo'd over my boy appropriately.
"Yosra, you're fat."
Ahhh yes! Egyptians know how to say it like it is.
The next day was going to be the start of Ramadan fasting.