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Thursday, January 20, 2011

I'd Like to Visit Egypt, But I Don't Speak the Language

Well, don't worry, Egyptians will speak yours! Most Egyptian children learn English in the early years of grade school, so there will usually be someone nearby that can communicate with you. And any shop owner will have no trouble transacting business in German, French or Spanish. Chinese is the hot new language to learn. I'm told it is quite difficult, but the merchants are adapting.

I only know what I call "taxicab Arabic." Yah-meen, scha-mel and ala-tool. Those mean "right, left, and straight ahead." That seems to be enough to handle getting around in case the driver doesn't speak any English.

OK, but how does that work out in practice? We headed over to Carrefour in Maadi the other night to do some shopping. After picking up a pound of coffee beans at Starbucks, we stopped in at the restaurant on the left for dinner.

The menu is identical to the one you would find at a Chili's back home. I ordered the Chicken-fried Chicken and Linda had the Margarita Chicken. Spicy Southwest Soup and Iced Tea? No problem.

But what if you might want to visit that Carvel Ice Cream shop next door? How would you choose a flavor?
IceCream-1 IceCream-2

I had the Mississippi Mud and Linda had the Coffee Mocha.

It can be a little harder if you are in our part of town and walk into the local Gad. Gad is an Egyptian fast-food operation with delicious sandwiches as well as full lunches. We walked in a few days ago and looked a little lost as we handled the all-Arabic menus. Soon a helpful hostess appeared and handed us another menu in English - and with pictures! About the only problem is knowing to say "take-away" rather than "to go." These pictures are from another Gad that we visited last year:

And if you want to stay and eat upstairs, the hostess will see that your choices are delivered to your table.

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