Saturday, February 10, 2007

Self-sufficient or 3ayb?

So, while I was doing my shopping just the other day, I decided to grab my groceries and haul them up the stairs myself because a) I didn't have any change for a tip and haram the poor fellow who would help me and b) I hate driving around to pick my groceries up. As I was grabbing all my groceries, a woman and her friend were having the bag boys load their car and I heard them talking about me. Now, my Arabic is limited, but of course I can understand tone. The tone of this conversation was distinctly condescending and dismissive. One of the bag boys said something to the woman. She responded in her tone, Khalas, hiyyi Americaniyyi. I suspect the comment was about the fact that I wasn't letting this guy help and was doing it myself. I was rather tempted to say something to her. She was, after all, rude enough to talk about me with me RIGHT THERE. But then, I think it would have been rude of me to so highlight her rudeness. Perhaps I should ask Anne Landers about that one... But it did get me thinking today. Was the issue that I was carrying my own groceries? Am I supposed to act like a wilting flower who is totally dependent on a big strong man to help me? What really is the bottom line deal? Culturally, what did I do that would occasion such rudeness? A big part of me wonders if this woman was threatened by Arab males seeing a woman who doesn't just sit around and wait on them to take the lead. Or maybe it is just because I'm American and, therefore, no common courtesy is due me. It highlights an Arab tendency that I've noticed. I'm polite and very welcoming to people I know and their friends, but as rude as I want to be to everyone else. The problem with that is, when you meet them again with someone you know, they will remember. A little courtesy goes a long way. So, to that very rude woman I say, Ana Americaniyyi and I'm proud to be so. As a result, I won't be rude back, I'll just smile and tell all of my friends how rude you are. And if you are telling all of your friends about your experience, maybe you'll run into someone who heard the other side of the story... That'll make my point most effectively.

Happy gossiping!


At 3:06 AM , Blogger Me said...

"A little courtesy goes a long way" said it all MommaBean!!
to me living in both worlds, i know for a fact that most Americans are very friendly, very helpful, very nice and they smile a lot to strangers!! this is not heard of in most of the Arab they consider it being nice (or being a true human being) is a sign of weakness...Most Arabs have a chip on their shoulder i feel, not all, but most and i hope i do not get hate mail!! do not worry about it, i hope she gets your story from the grapevine and knows how wrong she was!!

At 1:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, just come across here .. I like the 'beans' expression :)

Back to your story, i hope the rest of the blog has something more useful than this negative image.. actually i dont even find it a big deal, an impolite woman found ur action strange and wanted to express her thoughts and that what she came up with! So what?! I don’t mean her remarks were fine and acceptable but I wonder why they got on ur nerve that much!! lol . people has even started giving us some of their experience in a ‘polite’ way !
I wonder how would you;ve felt if she said u were a terrorist or radical or whatever of those words were hear on daily basis.

Calm down, it’s not worth it, stop thinking that you are the centre of attention wherever you go or u’d get exhausted. Enjoy!

P.S. Have some change next time, it really looks weird carrying your stuff by urself, oh please save me the man and woman story, it's just how it works :)

At 5:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear anon: calm down. if you dont like the fact that a blogger can blog about their thoughts then you dont have to participate. it's just how it works.

mommabean: the wealthier spoiled women in the country have people to do things for them. the other 88% of the country have women who do twice the work of a typical male.

when she said you were american she was being condescending.

as well as pathetic.

At 6:45 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Nas, yeah I know my sentiments exactly. And anonymous, thanks for dropping by. In fact, I'm pretty used to hearing condescending things about Americans. And, I assure you I didn't get particularly upset about it, more amused if you want the honest truth. After all, if the worst thing you can say about me as an American is that I'm a weirdo because I carry my own groceries, that's pretty good. But, the reality is that I blog about what's on my mind. It usually gets it off my mind (as this did) so I can move on to the next topic. My blog is as diverse as my mind, from traffic curiosities, to making cookies, to strange shelf placement at the grocery store. If you find that the wanderings of my mind are interesting, please come again. If they annoy you (as this post seems to have), you may find another blog more enjoyable. And, I certainly hope I'm not the center of attention even 1/100th of the time, but once in awhile it seems I inadvertantly am. As for the things she could have said, it would have been just as wrong for her to generalize that all Americans are terrorists because of the mistakes our government has made as it is for uneducated Americans to call Arabs terrorists. But fortunately, if that's what she DID say, I don't know that word in Arabic, so no harm/no foul.

At 2:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hehe , not at all .. i liked the post .. to be honest, when i read the comment again, i realize it was a bit.. unkind, but didnt mean it. it's just i felt u were over reacting.

it's definitely nice to see how Americans and other people coming from 'the west' find and feel Amman.

imagine going to a restaurant and insisting on serve urself while you have waitresses around.. lol .. ok , kind of.. :)

differences in cultures are quite interesting phenomena .. but there is one main common point: in every place u go, u'll find good and bad people, it really doesnt have anything to do with a 'chip on the shoulders' or whatever.


At 7:59 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Anon, Thanks for the follow-up. Actually remember that in the US we have entire restaurants DEDICATED to serving yourself, so not such a foreign concept, teehee. Oh, and on the whole people in Jordan are amazingly warm and welcoming. If you read back, I suspect you'll find the common thread in my posts is poking fun at things that I find interesting. I also hope that it is clear how much I enjoy love this country and its people...

At 10:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Most Arabs have a chip on their shoulder i feel, not all, but most and i hope i do not get hate mail!!"

Summer, what a funny thing of you to say, it'll take Americans ages and ages to get to the friendliness of Arabs and I mean true friendliness not the fake hi you get on the American street. American friendly? that must be a joke


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