. (kiss_mybutt) wrote,
.
kiss_mybutt

cairo

The smell of incense and spices fill the air, mixed in with cigarette smoke and desert sand. The shops in the bazaar are full of tiny, colorful intricately designed containers and jars that wouldn't look in the least bit out of place in an apothecary. Silver bangles and necklaces inlaid with colorful stones glitter from the stands. Stray cats roam the streets, mewing at the myriad of people walking up and down the marketplace.

The shopkeepers seem to know every language necessary. Here, the girl refrains from letting others know that she's from America. Her first encounter with someone in a foreign country who hated her own was when she was twelve years old. The taxi driver then spoke mostly Arabic, but knew enough English to curse Americans on the trip from the hotel all the way to the airport. After they'd left, her brother had asked, "Why does he hate us so much? We didn't do anything to him."

But of course, the driver had made an assumption. They looked Asian, so of course he had no reason to hate them. Asia was safe.

The girl is fairly impressed by their command of not only Mandarin, but Cantonese as well (not to mention, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, German, and, obviously, English...). Apparently, 15 million out of the 80 million inhabitants in Egypt work in the tourism business. The country derives half its income from tourists alone, which is somewhat reassuring in the sense that this means the government officials will do their absolute best to keep tourists safe.

Their knowledge of her other language makes it slightly more difficult to communicate with her fellow patrons, as she tends to revert to Chinese to convey whether she's interested in something, and whether she'd want it enough to start bargaining for it. However, as talented as they might be, Cantonese slang is generally extremely hard to pick up. This was a tested theory at the Turkish leather store, where her dad responded that his name was "閂門落閘放狗" when the manager of the store mentioned that he had worked enough years to understand Chinese, Japanese and Korean, and sure enough, he had no idea, and will likely spend the next year trying to figure out what her dad meant. Anyway, this applies here as well. She has had enough experience wandering through Hong Kong street markets to avoid making eye contact, and to avoid letting any shopkeeper see her even so much as glancing at anything she's interested in. Somehow, though, her mother seems to have forgotten all of this, and as such, their entire group falls victim to an onslaught of shopkeepers.

"Do you speak English?"

She shakes her head. A blatant lie, but what they don't know can't hurt them.

"China?" They ask.

She nods. It is a blessing that they can't distinguish Asian-American from plain ol' fresh off the boat.

"你好!" They exclaim immediately. "請你看看!"

Her mother once again falls victim to looking for 'pay geen.' The girl is completely uninterested, so she stays outside the shop and glances at shiny objects and pretty jars out of the corner of her eye. They look somewhat like miniature hookah contraptions. A young man gestures to the jars and takes them over to her. "你好! 你很漂亮!"

"謝謝," she answers, feeling somewhat out of place in a different continent, but somehow speaking a more familiar language with a complete stranger.

The man is still staring at her, trying to make it not quite as obvious that he's checking her out.

"You're beautiful," he says, switching over to English. He's still smiling at her, and apparently not so interested in trying to sell her anything anymore. He stretches out a hand and she shakes it; he settles back, content.

"Thank you," she says again, although she's pretty sure she's covered in desert sand and is not entirely convinced that she combed her hair that morning, as they'd woken up at 5:45 a.m. and she, as much as she's tried, is still not a morning person.

Her mother is unfortunately still in the neighboring store. At the pace that they are going, she decide to make a bet with her father that they will not make it to the street corner. Negotiations are under way, and one of the men working at the store comes out and looks at the girl.

"Are you from China?"

She nods.

He lets out a low whistle, and she quirks an eyebrow at him, trying to refrain from giving him her standard incredulous look of disgust. "You make me love China."

(Why thank you, kind sir, but this girl is actually from California. That's also her dad standing right there, about a foot away from her, not that he's doing anything, but you might like to know that anyway.)

Progress is slow, as her mother keeps getting shunted into different stores. Every shopkeeper shouts, "One dollar! Two dollars!" outside the store, but the second anyone walks in, the price jumps to $20. One of them zeroes in on her and says, "You! I like you, you're beautiful. Please come into my store!" Her mother is indeed lured in by promises of better prices, more colors, and more variety than any of the other stores. However, the bargaining isn't working quite as well as they would hope, and the girl is somewhat tempted to say, "I thought you said you liked me. Can't you lower the price to $5?"

(If you're wondering, she doesn't do it because she is reminded of the night she worked at The Buzz.)

They continue their way down the marketplace, and she comes across several more young men who tell her she's pretty, or, her personal favorite, that they love her. The latter is her favorite because her mother's friend, following close behind, has taken to yelling, "I don't love you!" in response to this comment. One, she does notice, has extremely light features for someone residing in Egypt. His hair is a light brown and he's tall, with striking eyes. She decides that this is probably why they have him stand out in front. When he tells the girl she's beautiful, she's tempted to say, "你都幾靚仔" to see if he'll understand her. He also says that he loves her, and when her mother's friend says, "Well, I don't love you!," he retorts with, "Not you, her!!!"

It soon becomes clear that she will be going nowhere of interest to her. As such, she brings light to her own life by spending time with the stray cats weaving through the stores. A black cat resembling Tuxedo Mask, her Davis cat (but with a slim tail instead of the giant fluffy one), appears out of an alleyway. She calls to the cat and it walks over, mewing softly. The cat raises itself onto her hind legs and rubs her face against the girl, twining around her legs. Girl and cat spend time together as they watch the girl's mother bargain yet again for more 'pay geen.'

Before long, the hour is up and the group has to head back. The girl has decided two things.
#1: At the bazaar, people will do and say anything to get you to come into their stores, and if you can talk their prices down by at least 50%, you are a master bargainer.
#2: She hates the roads in Egypt with a passion, as they are especially painful for stomachs that already aren't feeling well. As such, it is unlikely that she will be complaining about Osgood for as long as the memories of Egyptian roads remain.
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