Last night, after my husband and I stuffed ourselves with sushis, teriyaki, and udon, we finally decided to go home. At the lobby of our building, we saw this Pakistani vendor holding a cart full of fruits and vegetables struggling to balance the boxes so it won’t fall off. Here in UAE, if you’re too lazy to go to the store or market to buy something, you can call someone to deliver it for you free of charge. When we entered the elevator, this vendor looked hesitant and too shy to share the elevator with us and patiently waited for the next elevator. So I called out to him and asked him if he wanted to use the elevator with us. He gestured something I understood as, “Really? You don’t mind?”

Inside the elevator, I asked the vendor if somebody asked him to deliver all those fruits and vegetables because it’s a lot. He smiled and told me, “Maloum Arabi?” (Can you understand Arabic). I said, “Aahh…shueya.” (a bit). Then he started talking in fast Arabic and I was trying to catch each word that he said so my face was all contorted like that. Then I said, ” Aahhh…for cooking?” even if I didn’t understand a thing. When he reached his floor, he was still talking in fast Arabic and said, “Shukran!” (thank you). And I answered, “afwan!” (not at all).

My husband was so amazed. He told me he didn’t know I could understand Arabic. Then I was like, what? I didn’t even understand a word he said. I just pretended I did. Then he burst out laughing. He said I looked too convincing. He could’t believe that I didn’t know what the vendor was saying because my face looks like I understood every word he said. He was laughing hysterically that I had to signal him to lower down his voice because we might disturb the tenants. He was trying so hard to suppress his laughter that I couldn’t help but laugh also. We looked like two drunken couple who couldn’t walk straight because of our suppressed laughter.

Well, that’s what I do at work. Almost all patients are talking in Arabic. I just let them talk nonstop then I will just answer, “aaaahhhh….” Works all the time. See, I even fooled my husband.😁


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