Dude, Where’s my Camel?

Blaming a Japanese person for mispronouncing my name would be really pointless. For one thing, the Japanese don’t have the “dee” sound in the alphabet in the first place. Plus, the Japanese mispronounce all foreign names, so I know for sure that I am not the target of  some evil name mispronouncing plot.

What did bother me, a little, was how -almost- all of the  international students misheard/mispronounced my name. Especially during the first week, when the name/age/hometown info exchange occurred as regular as Japanese bus arrivals (that is, every minute?)

“Oh hi! I’m X. What’s your name?” They’d ask.

“Dina.” I’d reply.

“Oh, Gina, where are you from?”

“Not Gina. It’s Dina”, I’d say, while maintaining a smile.

“Zina? Wow! That’s such a cool name!”

“Dina. Starts with a D…. A, B, C,  D, you know?” I’d often explain, making sure I won’t be mentally affiliated with Xena, the Warrior Princess for the rest of my stay in Japan.

I don’t mind it anymore. Actually it’s kind of fun…. My name is problematic: Dina Salaheldin ElSayed, (Jeena Sarafuerudinu Eruseidu when transposed to suite the Japanese key). If you call me with my “proper” name, most likely I won’t reply…

At least now I have an idea for a Halloween costume...

But what really irks me, saddens me actually, is people’s response after I say I’m from Egypt:

“COOL! The pyramids, right?”

Every. Single. Time.

Yes, it's freaking huge.

At first, I would laugh, joke along, and even talk about the pyramids… But now, it has been three weeks, and almost every new person I meet  gives me the same pyramid-centered reaction, and for some reason I have just come to hate it.

That said, I am not a nationalistic person by any means. In fact, I have always complained about living in Egypt, always said I wanted to get out of Egypt as soon as possible and even though I have no concrete plans about my future career, if there’s one thing I know for sure about my plan, it’s that it won’t be set in Egypt. If you’re reading this then we’re probably friends and so you know how many times a day I curse Egyptian traffic, Egyptian corruption, Egyptian weather, and Egyptian Egyptian-ness… It’s probably nothing to be proud of, but it’s a fact.

But knowing that being Egyptian has boiled down to whether I have seen that fascinating 6,000 year old bundle of rocks just makes me sad. I mean, I certainly agree that the pyramids are out of this world and all, but that’s a little bit too much for me to handle… Then again, whose fault is it? It is our fault. Egyptians. This proclivity to cling to the past is the proof that there’s nothing to be proud of anymore, so just boast about those pharos, whose blood, most probably, is not running pure in my veins (Kush/Nubian/Ottomans/French/British variations are applicable…)

I have had evenings through which I had to endure questions like whether we have “like.. like…cars and like..buildings and stuff”. Or whether I can “wear like colors and like…like, you know, like, walk on the street”.

And it ruins my day…


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Etienne
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 17:42:30

    As much as I do understand the bit about the pyramids (“you’re French? Ahhh, Paris…”), I think you may be going a bit far when you say that this is the proof you Egyptians have nothing else to be proud of. I just think people say that because it’s THE iconic thing in the country, just like the Eiffel tower for France, the Sagrada Familia for Spain, the Manneken-pis for Belgium… people tend to think of what symbolizes the country for them at first, and in most cases, it ends up being a cliché.

    What I’m saying is that it basically is a proof that people are stupid, not that Egypt sucks (which may or may not be the case, but that’s a different question altogether 😉 )


  2. Dahlia
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 18:09:10

    At least they know the pyramids.


  3. Dina
    Sep 18, 2010 @ 14:03:47

    I don’t mind pyramid comments, but… “do you have streets?”…. Please!


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