Fusha not spoken here

OK, for the record, I do not speak Fusha. Not a lick. Not a word. I can recognize about one verb when I hear it, and that's itathakur or something like that. I can't even remember what it means (study? remember? speak?), I just remember hearing it all the time in the one week of Arabic classes that I took three years ago.

We finally got our internet connection up and running, with a surprising lack of resistance from the Wanadoo employees. I went to their office this morning thinking it would take yet another week (it's already taken almost a week), but no, the nice lady behind the desk went right upstairs and got our username and password. I can't help but think that Miriam's cute antics in the office with the other employees had some part in greasing the wheels.

Anyway, in the taxi on the way home, the driver wouldn't stop talking to me. Usually, they completely ignore me, which I really, really prefer. There's just something so unwholesome about chatting it up with an unknown Arab male, for however short a time, even though I'm married (and thus, "off-limits").

Fine. If he wants to talk with me, whatever. It's just a short taxi ride. But the problem was that he would only speak broken Fusha with me. And when I told him, over and over again, that I didn't speak Fusha, he would just dumb it down even more until he was repeating individual Fusha words entirely devoid of context so that even if I did understand Fusha, I wouldn't have understood what he was saying.

I had to wonder why he didn't notice that as he was stumbling through a one-sided Fusha conversation, I was speaking to him semi-competently in amiyya (dialect).

This awkward taxi ride ended in him offering to teach me Arabic (Fusha, I assume) if I would teach him "ajnabi." Apparently, he wasn't even sure what language I spoke natively, just that it was something "foreign." Needless to say, I declined his offer. Although, now that I think about it, I only guessed that's what he was trying to say. After all, he said it in Fusha.

It's a mystery

From Beirut to Damascus