Scotsabroad's Weblog

February 21, 2008


Filed under: the neighbours,Uncategorized — scotsabroad @ 7:17 pm

We have quite a few neighbours. Our house is semi-detached to the house of Mr. Ahmed and family. He has a wife, Nella, and two children, Ahmed and Cherie. We are not sure what Mr Ahmed does for a living but his jeep has black number plates and we think that this means he works for the government. He also has a pick up truck which is driven by one of our other neighbours (more of them later) and this pick up varies from day to day – either full to the brim with goods (covered up so we don’t know what they are) or completely empty.  We think that the Ahmed family are a bit weird – they play their television very loudly at 2am, are rarely seen outside and when they are seen they are usually in their pjs. The exception is Mrs Ahmed who, when out in public,  is fully veiled in a black hijab. I guess we think they are weird but they probably think we are weird. Once, when I was walking with the boys , who were cycling, Nella drove past me, stopped and asked me where I was going. I said, “Out for a walk” and she looked at me and then drove on without another word.

We used to have a family downstairs in the basement but they were sacked by the family next door and have been gone for a month now. The day they left Madame Fatet, the mother, gave me two tiny little photos of the family in a photo studio. She also gave me her mobile telephone number. They have gone back to their home town of Menia in Upper Egypt and we have no idea what has happened to them at all.

 We are getting to know the children of the family two doors up. Cairo was invited to Youssef’s 7th birthday party and since then has played every now and again with Youssef. His big sister, Dalia, has also been round and once she came over and did some baking with me.  That was a quite surreal experience as she spoke to me as if I was a teenage agony aunt and I had no idea what to say. As soon as her cakes were iced I accompanied her back home!  A bit cowardly of me, I know, but I didn’t want her to start quoting lines back to her mother. They live in a sugar pink enormous mansion with a swimming pool in the back garden.

The other neighbours are the doormen and their families. The house diagonally opposite from us on the corner is empty and awaiting tenants/buyers but a family live in the basement. They are ‘minding’ the building but they also run a street cafe. The wife does the prep, cooking, serving and washing up – everything basically. The amazing thing is that she does this fully veiled with a large overdress on top of her clothes. Andy and I joke that this is our local chip shop as she serves home made chips – but we have never eaten anything from it as we have seen her son use the street as a toilet and this has put us off slightly. I do buy tomatoes, onions and potatoes there sometimes but always give them a good peeling and scrub before I use them and I think that this makes them perfectly safe.  The cafe lady’s husband now drives Mr Ahmed’s pick up and the first day he started this job I met him as he drove out of the basement. He was absolutely delighted with the job and was smiling at me and talking. He looks very severe as he has a huge black beard and his wife dresses very conservatively but he is actually quite nice which reminds me that appearances can be deceptive.Perhaps I shouldn’t classify the pj wearing neighbours as weird!

The final set of neighbours is the family who look after the other house diagonally across from us. They have taken over the role of Madame Fatet and her husband Ale, and now water our garden, clean our car, wash the stairs and generally look after the grounds. They have two sons – Ahmed who is quite a serious nine year old and Muhammed, a 2 year old tearaway who almost never wears his trousers, hates getting washed and shouts “Hallo” at the top of his voice whenever he sees me.

I have had Muhammed and Ahmed over to play with my boys quite a few times and I always feed them with biscuits, chocolate or fruit. They don’t really play with Lucas or Cairo due to the language barrier but they do ‘side by side’ play with whatever toys I have brought out. We always play in the front garden as that way I can see them all and make sure that they are all okay as I am very conscious that I have someone else’s children in my care. Because I am slowly learning Arabic I can communicate a bit better with them now, too, which helps for games and toys.  Last week we played football out on the street and had great fun with Muhammed as every time he got the ball he would run as fast as his little legs would carry him towards the huge building site hole across from our house and try to throw the ball into the hole. There were howls of laughter as I ran after him and pretended that he was too fast for me.

I have one other neighbour. He is a little boy who appears at the gate and says “Nellahab” which means “Lets play”. I asked him his name today and he replied with Aml but when I tried to say it again he got quite annoyed that I wasn’t pronouncing it properly. I did really try but couldn’t get it right so I am not very clear what his name actually is. This sounds terrible but I am not totally sure who he is. I think he might be the son of Dalia’s doorman but maybe he is the cafe owner’s son? I shall try to pay more attention to who belongs to whom. He is the most adorable boy with big brown eyes (yet filthy dirty with grotty hair) and today he followed me everywhere and was quite upset when he had to leave.

I am not quite sure about the ethics of putting photos of these people on the blog so have left them off for just now. Maybe when I know more Arabic I can ask them for permission.



  1. Shona, What a lovely description of all your neighbours. Really interesting. It’s like reading an excerpt from Joanna Harris’s “Chocolat” novel, but swapping France for Egypt. Lovely. Your neighbours children will feel lucky to have such lively and interesting friends on their doorstep. Luv Shari x

    Comment by Shari — February 22, 2008 @ 2:31 pm | Reply

  2. Yes – agree completely with what Shari has said.

    Comment by Linda — February 22, 2008 @ 2:53 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks sis. You are too kind!

    Comment by Shona Davidson — February 22, 2008 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

  4. Yes i loved your descriptions also, you do have a lot of neighbours!!

    Comment by Gordon — March 7, 2008 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

  5. I Think You Are Lucky With Your Neighbours.

    Comment by Ahmed — September 26, 2008 @ 8:42 pm | Reply

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