If you admire something - and by admire I mean that you just happen to offer a polite compliment (sincerity/insincerity notwithstanding) - what a nice bracelet you have - then poof! it's yours. Such is the extent of my ignorance that I don't know if this is an Iraqi thing or a Kurdish thing, but since I am in Kurdistan, we'll make the rash
Eastern hospitality is notoriously - well - hospitable. Mr. This Cat's (Not Abroad) and I are continually inundated with invitations for dinner, picnics in the mountains, and whatnot. Recently I met a student at the mall in town and, after our obligatory kiss-kiss, I was severely upbraided for not stopping by her house first. My explanation that I didn't know that she lived near the mall - or where she lived for that matter - or that I had not received a firm invitation to her home withered on my tongue. It seemed churlish to add that
After a mercifully short bout with the flu (for which I had to cancel one class), one of my students cornered Mr. This Cat and demanded to know why he (Mr. This Cat) hadn't contacted said student when I first became ill - he could have arranged a doctor and prescriptions, et al. So in addition to the joy of having to empty the contents of my entrails every 2 hours, I had a heaping helping of guilt added to the mix.
All of this is bearable. I have perfected the art of declining the Terrific Tsunami of Tea that engulfs this country. I now excel at accepting loosey-goosey invitations with equally namby-pamby acceptances. But the complimenting ... that's a horse of a different colour. The other day when I told one of my students that I really liked his eyeglass frames, he took the glasses off and handed them to me. To keep. Fuck. I remonstrated. He insisted. I thanked Allah that were no Westerners in the wings delighting in my discomfiture. When would I learn? Finally, I tried them on and further thanked Allah (not really) that my student was far-sighted rather than near-sighted as I am. The fact that the prescription was woefully out of whack for me was the only reason he accepted his glasses back. He promised to buy me the frames for me to have filled later. I know full well that they will show up any day now. I just hope he selected the right colour.
Seems silly? Behold:
I walked into Mr. This Cat's office a few weeks ago and my nose was assaulted by a most malodourous and sickly-sweet stink. What is that? I cried. He pointed to a plastic bag sitting in the far corner of the room. Knowing that I would regret it, I poked and peered inside the bag, releasing another fetid tide of Crap Cologne from this Pandora's Bag and saw a shirt.
It's a shirt, I say.
Yes, he concedes.
Whose is it and why is it here? I try to seal the bag to staunch the stench, but, as I have neither a flamethrower nor liquid cement on hand, it is to no avail.
It was Muhammed's*. He wore it to class the other day and I said I liked it. He hangs his head in shame.
NOOOOOO! You didn't!!!!! I cry.
I know, I know. He brought it in for me this morning. What was I supposed to do?, head still hanging in shame.
Couldn't he have at least washed it? I ask.
I would add that Muhammed is 5'2". Mr. This Cat is 6'3".
In the end, the woman whose sandals I
Bitch. I really wanted those sandals.
*Requisite name change.