A pleasant encounter

There was nothing particularly eventful about yesterday except for one brief, significant incident that will certainly be told for generations to come. The incident took place while the husband and I were on the road in our quiet little neighborhood in Maryland.

While stopping at the traffic right I noticed a man in the car besides us looking in our direction and waving cheerfully. I rolled down my window to find out what he was trying to tell me. To my surprise the man spoke with me in Arabic, saying: "Are you from Madaba?" At first, I was speechless then I realized this man knew where I come from simply from our car tag, which proudly bears the name of my hometown."Yes I am," I said happily and introduced myself.

"I’m from Ram Allah but we have many friends from Madaba," he said while pointing to his wife, who was sitting besides him smiling. We conversed briefly. We talked about our jobs, where we live and our mutual relatives all in the span of barely a minute before the traffic light turned green. We said our goodbyes and then went our separate ways. What a pleasant encounter!

15 thoughts on “A pleasant encounter”

  1. That is too funny yet so true, the way we arabs do that. I find myself doing that all the time i run into arabs around here in LA, especially if they are jordanian.

  2. It is such a small world…my old neighbor told me she had a cousin who lived in Chicago, perhaps I knew would run into her while visiting the US. I told her Chicago was too big. Then while shopping at Wal*Mart in the Chicago suburbs, I heard a lady speaking Arabic at the jewelry counter – and it was my neighbor’s cousin!

  3. My mom once asked me when Jimmy Carter made a visit to the Jordan University during his visit to Jordan ( around 1983 , to ask him if he knew my brother who happened to be living in the USA.

  4. I have stuff like that happen from time to time. Being a regular American white guy Arabs are always surprised, then impressed when I speak to them in Arabic. People are always so nice, they never expect an American to speak their language. I have to tell them I cheated, I do speak Arabic, but aside from a few university classes, I learned it all from my wife who is an Arab.
    My wife and I were at a store recently. She asked me, in Arabic, which colour I wanted of a particular product. I answered, in Arabic, that I wanted black. Then this lady, looked American at the time, blond hair, green eyes, turns towards us and starts talking to us in rapid fire, fluent Arabic. I asked “Inti min fen”? She answers “ana min Iraq.” Turns out she was an Iraqi Kurd. Many Kurds are light enough to pass for white people.
    People are nice, but sometimes worried I learned my Arabic with the FBI or CIA. When I tell them my wife is from the Gulf, it matches my accent in Arabic, and everything is fine from there.
    Arabs, on the whole, are some of the nicest people in the world.

  5. It’s all those little things in life that make us smile and cherish the inherently good nature of people, and in this case, especially Arabs! Thank you for sharing that wonderful annecdote with us.

  6. Abu Sinan you said that Many Kurds are light enough to pass for white people.
    This is one of the most absurd and racist steryotypes I have ever heard. But this is not the first time i hear an american “whitize” an ethnic group they like. Kurds have as much “whiteness” as others in the regions they inhabit. i know, I am a Kurd.

  7. Murad, I was just stating my observation. There are generalisations like that that are rather common in the Middle East, ie people from the Levant(Syria,Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon) are often light skinned.
    There is a real historical reason for this. European colonial and economical interests, including slave trade, and the like. I have blond hair, blue eyes, and I am over six foot tall, yet I have had ARABS ask if I am Palestinian when they hear me speaking Arabic. Any particular reason why they didnt ask if I was Yemeni? Or is it because Palestinians, amoungst some others, are know to have very light skinned people.
    Before you jump on me and accuse me of being racist or whatever get a grasp on the history of the area. BTW, I also have two Arab children with my Arab wife, so I think that the racism part hardly applies.

  8. Whats up with this white and not white crap. What color is an Arab anyway? And are whites really white or are they pink?

  9. I think the point was that Abu Sinan’s intent was not to be racist.
    People need to stop throwing out accusations of racism. Save that for someone who is a real racist. Plenty of those around.

  10. One of the many wonderful aspects of being married to my dear wife is how we seem to either run into someone she knows or someone who knows someone she knows no matter where we go in this great big world of ours. It’s really quite remarkable. Seattle: check. London: check. New York: Check. Raleigh, NC: check. This list goes on and on and on. I think there is some aspect of it that has to do with the wonderful sociability of those from the Middle East. Those connections really are what makes life worth living and they’re things that seem to get lost as societies become more “westernized,” detached and really more egocentric. I, for one, am glad to have found that connection as I revel in the experiences that are the life and times of my wonderful wife.

  11. What a small world! My brothers live in AZ and went to NYC for 2 days.While they were walking the streets of Manhattan they met my mom’s friend who lives in Tunisia and was there for one afternoon 🙂

Comments are closed.