I was at the exhibition of Cairo Photo Marathon the other day, which was a fun, interesting and very eye-opening experience on a number of levels. The participants chose either the six- or 12-hour round and were given a new headline for each hour. They were then supposed to take a picture that to them symbolized this headline within that hour.
While walking around I had a list of the headlines, so I could match them with the pictures. And there really were very many fantastic photos to look at. However, I did sometimes find it a bit difficult to understand some of the pictures when looking at the headlines.
I mentioned this to a friend and she began explaining the background of the headlines. It turned out that many of them were different kinds of terms of endearment or loving experiences like “Me, I die for…” (Amout ana) or “O slipper of bliss, I wish to be the” (Ya shabshab al hana ya raitny kinit ana). Apparently this is something a man would say to a woman to express his devotion to her.
So I thought back to my Arabic classes in an attempt to figure out how it would sound if a woman wanted to say the same things to a man and asked my friend if I was right. She gave me a funny look and said a woman would never say those things.
So what would a woman say, I asked her. Silence. She couldn’t think of anything that a woman would say to show a guy her interest. Apparently Egyptian women don’t initiate flirting. And not even that – it seems that they don’t even say sweet words to the chosen one once the flirt has started (or should I say “if ever”?).
I asked her to think about it and after a long while she managed to think of one – ONE – thing. And when we spoke about it the next day at work with both men and women present, none of them could think of anything either.
So seriously – does this mean that Egyptian women don’t flirt?! Or are my colleagues just too consumed with work to know those kinds of things? Either way, I’d really like to hear from other Egyptians (or any Arabs) what a woman can say to a guy to show him how much she likes him. I’m sure everyone at the office will be impressed if I can actually teach them a thing or two on that front.