Whether it’s a casual gathering at grandma’s house or a family ‘iftar’ in Ramadan, the same statements are usually repeated by the same people. Adding to the fact that Egyptian families never get over themselves, sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the repetition of the same old comments comes in context of making up a conversation or if it’s just a way of assuring that Egyptians are born comedians. Below are some of the typical statements we hear in Egyptian family gatherings, carefully chosen to fit the context of the article, otherwise the list can go on forever.
1. ‘Winta sayim wala zay kol sana?’
In Ramadan, it doesn’t matter who you are, how old are you, or what color your car is. On the first family gathering for ‘iftar’, you must hear, ‘winta sayim wala zay kol sana?’ Probably told by an older figure in your family, all you can do is give that “you’re so funny” laugh and deep inside swear at him. However, you can break the frozen ice by telling him ‘ana aslan mesee7i ya uncle’.
2. ‘Mish hanifra7 beek/i wala eh ba2a?’
Girl, boy, or panda, you are going to be asked, ‘mish hanifra7 beek/i wala eh ba2a?’ You have three options to choose from: Either tell them you got married behind their backs and couldn’t invite them because it was a small wedding, OR, before going to the gathering write on your forehead “mish hatifra7o biya”, or simply play panda. PS: going with the second option does not guarantee that you will be not asked that question.
3. ‘Winta hatitkharag imta ba2a?’
I am not so sure if this question should go before the previous one or after it, but it’s certainly asked as frequently. Once you set foot in university, your family will relentlessly bombard you with “winta hatitkharag imta ba2a”. Why does it feel like you’re the ones paying for my tuition fees or waiting for me to graduate so you can live a healthy life? The best reply to this question would be ‘ana madakhaltish gam3a ya uncle’, even if your commencement is a week away.
4. ‘W akhbar el mizakra eh ba2a?’
Post the graduation question, or can be prior too, comes the most annoying, ‘w akhbar el mizakra eh ba2a’. To be honest, I never understand the point of asking this question. Like if I told you, it’s going horrible, would you actually care to help me? How is it useful for you as an obliged member of my family to know how my studies are going? Ask them these questions the next time you meet.
5. ‘Matla3ibo ma3ak ya 7assan.’
This is my favorite one; those who have irritating young members in their families will relate. You’re playing a game on your phone, tablet, Ipad or whatever, then comes the most annoying kid in the family and asks to play with you. You dare to say no; it won’t matter. His mother will sincerely ask to ‘matla3ibo ma3ak ya 7assan.’ There’s no way out and absolutely nothing to say.
6. ‘Mato3odo tishrabo shay; lisa il sahra taweela.’
This one just shows how generous we Egyptians are. When the gathering comes to an end probably way after midnight, and everyone is ready to go home and yawning as loud as a lion’s roar, the host shocks everyone with ‘mato3odo tishrabo shay; lisa il sahra taweela.’ Post to dropping this bombshell, emerges a 30-minute debate of staying some more vs. going home.