Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hello, my name is...

In Arabic, the word "ana" means "I" or "me." I knew this coming to Egypt. I did not, however, realize how hilarious the Egyptians would find this. When I was asked my name for the first time in the market I simply said, "Anna." The salesman smiled and nodded. Yes, he wanted to know my name. I repeated it, and he just nodded again, waiting for me to give him my name. "Ismi Anna," I said, which means "my name is Anna" (or "my name is me"). 
He laughed and said "ismuki..." ("your name is..."), expectantly. It went on like this for a while, until another shopkeeper nearby, who apparently knew some English, explained the situation. The first man began to cackle, pointed at me and, unable to contain his glee, broke out in raucous laughter. I have encountered similar situations on an almost daily basis since. 
Some Egyptians feel the need to educate me as to the meaning of my name, most just laugh after they figure it out. Our dear bawab (doorman) Yassin actually made me write it out before he believed me. Two baristas at our local coffee place assured me that "it's a beautiful name," which is also interesting.
Well, at least I don't suffer the fate of my friend Caitlin, whom most Egyptians refer to as Kevin.


  1. Anna, this is hilarious! I'm glad you're having such an interesting time abroad. Do you think you're going to 'change' your name while abroad, or are you just going to put up with the "who's on first" jokes for the rest of the semester?

  2. I'm going to stick with it. It would almost be a shame not too...