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whats in a word that we call tea (still at milan airport)

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yet another airport, this is the second time in my life i travel on my own (first time was in 1995), oh well this calls for another blog post

i want to write about how women are different, i mean look at these two leggy blondes sitting so comfortably with their arms and legs all over the place taking off their shoes playing with their hair all the time

i can never be that comfortable in a place like an airport never seen a man that comfortable (OK there is this guy who is scratching his ass but that's different)

but i am not that kind of blogger so lets just talk about my aunt and tea

my aunt is Ahdaf Soueif who is a sometimes controversial novelist who writes in English (and who btw has no WikiPedia page, better fix that soon)

almost every year she has a talk, a panel, or whatever in the Cairo book fair, the audience always asks about her non existant identity crisis (if Edward Sa'id had one then surely she has one too is how the logic goes), her reasons for writing in English etc

this year she had a very interesting answer to the questions about the difficulty in presenting Egyptian topics in English and about the differences between her original work and the Arabic translation (which she supervises)

she said her only problem was with words carrying cultural baggage and thus having different meanings

her example was the word tea, you say tea to an Egyptian and she would typically imagine black tea with a bit of sugar being served alone in clear glasses.

say the same word to a British and the mental image is totally different, probably tea with a spot of milk no sugar being served in china cups with biscuits

makes sense to me, but i cant see why it matters she is like that though when describing a scene with cloths hanging on lines she makes sure to tell you it was a white wash

Comments

ahdaf souief is ur aunt...! that's...umm.... cool i guess...

you get to be defined as the son of folan, the grandson of 3elan etc all your life, a bit annoying.

also the family seems to consist of overacheavers which sets the bar too high for you, whatever you do you're never worthy.

begad begad Ahdaf is your aunt?? Then Alaa is your uncle! I know Alaa & his wife!

I relate a lot to what Ahdaf said once about why she's writing in English. She said that narrative comes to her in English while the dialog comes in Arabic, so she would write the dailog in Arabic and THEN translate it into English. I mean, I related a lot to that when I used to write in English myself, before i solved that so-called "identity crisis" and started writing in Arabic & to my astonishment I found it much more comfortable than English! However, I don't think anybody who writes in any chosen language that's not their mother-tongue have an identity crisis. It's all about how comfy you are with a certain language.

Nice running into you in this virtual place :)

Rehab

دنيا صغيرة I suppose

about language, I can't write a couple of paragraphs in arabic, I never learned to write properly, in any language or expres myself, I struggle with language everyday, its a beast that won't let me have my way, but I managed to find a certain flow with english even if the result is broken language and frustrated attempts at expression.

with arabic I get lost i form and formality, it feels soo unnatural, from time to time I try to write in 3ameya, thats the most natural of all but I quickly run into barriers with technical terms or anything that involves logical steps.

its not only writing, I don't understand casual fos7a at all, ya3ni the مدونات folks, I can hardly understand a single paragraph they write, I don't seem to have this problem with novels, newspapers, etc but on the web it never works for me.