Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Man Above Me


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.


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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