Sunday, July 15, 2007

Home at Last

"You're back!" The shoeshine man outside the President Hotel was happy to see me.

I crossed the street to greet him.

"Where did you go?"

"New York."

"You are living back in this apartment?" He motioned up the block.

"No," I shook my head sadly. "I am staying at a friend's. I am only here to go to the cafe."


I walked up the block, to where Adel, my baowab (doorman) sat outside the hot landlord's flat.

Adel and I did our usual routine. We shook hands (remember to shake limply with a loose touch in Egypt), and then I babbled incomprehensibly to him in English while he babbled to me in Arabic. We both smiled, satisfied that we'd no idea what the other one was talking about. Would he call the hot landlord to say I was back?

The waiters in the cafe greeted me.

"Have you been trvvvvvvvvvllg?" asked Mohammed.

"Er, yes... I mean, what?"

"Have you been trvvvvvvllllg?"


"Yes, trvvvvvvllllg."

"Yes. I was in New York."

"Welcome home."

I smiled and got my usual salad and sandwich.

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