Whenever we go anywhere Rachel is swarmed by people snapping pictures, pinching cheeks, and blowing kisses. It’s not uncommon for people to come up, twist her face around, and kiss her right on the lips. Or to pick her up and walk away with her. Or to give her things, usually candy, cookies, or fruit.
Around Maadi it’s not so bad. All the guards on our usual walking routes are familiar with Rachel and ask about her if I ever walk by without her. Her picture is the background to more cellular phones than I can count. And we can’t take a subway ride without ending up with at least one candy. It slows us down a little, having to talk to everyone we see, but it’s bearable.
Touristy destinations, however, are another story. We’ll be walking along, minding our business, and suddenly find ourselves completely surrounded by camera-wielding Arabs. Ten, twenty, thirty at a time, maybe more.
They all want to take her picture. Sometimes they want to take individual pictures with her. Sometimes they want to hold her while taking individual pictures with her. They all want to touch her hair, her cheeks. “Beautiful” they call her.
When we were visiting the Karnak Temple with Uncle David in January we found ourselves accosted by such a crowd and Rachel was stuck posing on some ancient stone for about 15 minutes.
I suppose that’s what we have to deal with for having such a cute (and white) baby. I’m fine with it, for the most part, but Rachel is not. She has this strong aversion to Arabs, to no fault of her own. Whenever she sees one that has spotted her, she screams and runs for me. She refuses to say hello, smile, or flirt for the camera.
“Lei?” they ask, “Why? Why? Why?”
It’s because she knows that you’re not going to say hello and then leave her alone. It’s because she knows there is a 95% chance that you are going to try to pick her up and kiss her face. It’s because she believes in stranger danger—and you taught it to her, not me.
(And that’s my segue into our Luxor trip. That happened like a month and a half ago…)