Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ihna Irhabiyeen in 134 days

Now that we've purchased our plane tickets, the fact that we're moving to Cairo is really hitting home.

Perhaps we're both a little too sure of ourselves, but neither one of us have ever applied to more than one school at a time. After high school, Andrew applied to BYU and got in. I applied to BYU and got in. Neither one of us had dreamed of not being accepted and we didn't waste our time applying to other schools.

We did the same thing with grad school, only this time we spent a little more time studying things out before we applied. We even almost applied to the University of Utah as well...but in the end only one application was completed and sent in. And then we held our breath.

I think we both knew that Andrew would get accepted. So it was more of a relief than a surprise when we finally got the acceptance letter. We could finally tell people what we would be doing post-graduation, we could finally start making official plans, we could finally start packing.

As soon as we found out we were accepted, Andrew made a wiki on Google Pages for us to keep track of all the details of our move. Most importantly he added a countdown. Since we didn't know when we would be leaving he arbitrarily chose August 15th as the ending date and we've been counting down from there.

We bought the tickets on Friday. The cheapest day I could find to fly was August 13th, so soon after purchasing them I went into the wiki and changed the countdown date to August 13th.

"There are 137 days until we leave," I announced at dinner (as of today it's only 134).

"Did you change the countdown?" Andrew asked.

"Mmhmmm," I grunted through a mouthful of pizza.

"What was it before?" he asked.

"139," I said after swallowing. Sometimes I remember not to talk with my mouth full.

"No, I mean, how many days?"

"139," I said again.

"Wait, how many days now?" he asked.


"And how many before?"


"Yeah, but how many days was I off?"

"What do you mean?

"Like, it's 137 days from the 13th, but what was my original guess?"

"Oh, Honey," I started, rolling my eyes.

"What?" He asked, innocently.

"You guessed the 15th," I sighed.

"Wow! I was only two days off!" He gloated...but I soon brought him back down to earth.

"You couldn't figure that out from the numbers 137 and 139?"

Apparently those are too big of numbers for him to work with.

I have to tease him while I can because pretty soon I'll be the one making all the embarrassing mistakes. You see, I don't speak Arabic very well at all. I know taxi Arabic, but most of it is memorized and isn't conversational. I could still tell a taxi driver where to drop me off in Amman, and I can ask where the restroom is but it usually comes out meaning "bird" instead of "bathroom," but I'm not too great at forming unique sentences just yet.

When we were in the car on Sunday Andrew was helping me understand how to use "we" a little bit better. For some reason the only verb I can say in "we" form is "to have" and usually I conjugate everything in "you" form. It's rather sad. In fact, I didn't even know how to say "we" before yesterday.

"احنا امريكيين" he prompted.

"Ihna amrikiyeen," I repeated back. That means "We're Americans."

"Oh, this is a good word to know as well," he said, "احنا ارهابيين"

"Ihna irhabiyeen," I parroted, "What does that mean?"

"It means, 'We are terrorists.'" He said matter-of-factly.

"Perhaps you shouldn't teach me to say that," I suggested.

"Oh, yeah," he agreed, "Just add a mish in there."

"Ihna mish irhabiyeen," I ammended.

We are not terrorists. Much better. I can only imagine the trouble we'd be in if on the airplane on our way to Cairo I turned to my Arabic-speaking neighbor to introduce us.

"Hi, my name is Nancy, this is my husband Andrew and our baby, Rachel. We're Americans...and terrorists. It's so nice to meet you."

Somehow I can't see that going over very well at all.


  1. He would teach you how to say that, wouldn't he...

  2. I think the biggest tragedy here is that you will be learning Egyptian Arabic. The humanity!!!!!!!

  3. I know, I know. It's tragic.

    We entertained the idea of naming Rachel an Arabic name--I really liked Jamila for a while there but the fact that her name would be pronounced Gamila in Egypt really put a damper on the thought. It's much less pretty with a hard 'g,' I think.