Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Man Above Me

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I thought it was strange that my roommate mentioned to me  that there is a former interrogator living in the apartment above us. Yes, this was a bit strange but hardly "need to know" information. On Sunday, I forgot my key on campus and was locked out of the apartment. I was decidedly agitated b/c one of the insufferable staff members at Arabian Gitmo (i.e. AUC) had taken it along w/ my ID and forgotten to hand it back to me. She was supposed to have activated my email account last week and of course, a week later I still could not log in to the system.

After calling my roommates at work, I slumped down on the stairs resolutely to endure an hour long wait before someone could come let me in. A stocky old man with an air of authority comes climbing up the stairs, stops and stares at me for a few seconds. I am in no mood to be bothered so I do not bother to reply misharfar (I don't know) when he yells something at me in Arabic. "Do you speak English," he asks grimly. I nod and slide my things aside hoping he'll leave it at that and continue up the stairs. Luckily, my phone rings as he stands there staring down at me. I answer it and, thankfully, he walks up the stairs. When I get off the phone, I turn to find him standing a few stairs above me, staring at me.

"Do you live here," he asks as if he has every right to know. Something tells me to say no, I don't. "Are you just visiting," he follows up. I hesitate for a second, trying to think quickly on my feet. Where is this line of questioning going? He asks again, a little louder this time. Clearly this guy's used to be answered quickly and directly! Yes, I say. He glowers at me, "..Good."

He looks at me for a second, as if to memorize my face, turns and continues up the stairs.

...Well, it's obvious to me that he was very good at what he did! geez.

2 comments:

Concept said...

OMG! This update made me nervous... :-/ I hope you don't come across him again for the remainder of your trip :-( As a American woman studying overseas, do you feel safe for the most part of the experience?

Frenchie said...

I would say that, for the first time,I am aware of my gender more than ever before.My friend made a similar comment after returning from Morocco and I completely agree with her. I am more alert now than I usually am about a woman's "role" and how any sign of femininity from me would be perceived, and also of the men around me. I can't say yet how much of this heightened sensitivity is due to solely concerns about safety and how much is due to adapting to a new culture and language

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