Thursday, August 04, 2005

Walk Like an Egyptian

When I went to Kuwait, to help put together the first Gulf Unix Conference, my friends were worried. I figured I was totally safe because Kuwait hadn't blown up a U.S. embassy in, like, a decade.

Of course, I was right. Saddaam Hussein invaded six months later, but I was long gone by then.

I knew that it would be different, but I figured at least I could read the numbers. That one, I was wrong about. Turns out Arabs don't use Arabic numerals. I felt so disillusioned. Next, I figured, someone would tell me the Romans didn't speak Pig Latin.

One of the local organizers was a successful, Lebanese businesswoman. The first day, she was sitting at the registration table, handing out packets. Luckily, I sat down to talk to her. Men with long dishdashas and full beards would walk up to the table to register and be at a loss. They simply couldn't talk to her.

I figured that having to deal with Condi Rice would improve matters substantially. This makes me think I was right.


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