One of the things I love best about Egypt is the way relationships are valued. There’s a sense that the person in front of you right now is the most important person. And whether it is someone you have known forever or have just met, that person is important.
I experienced that today in a frame shop. Earlier this morning, a couple of members of the church met here so one could take the other to her favorite Cairo frame shop. They invited me to have coffee with them. I had a to-do list for the day, but it’s hard to turn down coffee and good conversation, so I went with them. After good coffee and laughter and conversation, we headed to the frame shop.
When we got there, the owner, who speaks good English, wasn’t in. The three of us each speak a little Arabic, but not nearly enough to explain what we wanted. Lucky for us, a middle aged man was there whose English was excellent. He had stopped into get a couple of photos framed. He was wearing a shirt and tie and looked like he would probably be heading back to work after he finished what he had thought would be a quick errand.
Instead, he patiently translated for us, staying for close to 30 minutes to help us pick out the frames and mats for my friend’s prints, translating and visiting with us. His name was Mohammed and he is a demonstration of so much of the kindness and hospitality we have experienced here. We will probably never see him again, but he put whatever else he had on his to-do list for the day and stayed around to help us. It’s these little things that add up and make up for the traffic and pollution and noise that can make me crazy.
I’m glad I put my to-do list on hold for a few hours this morning. It will all get done. I am well-caffeinated and my heart is full. Thanks, Mohammed, for your time and kindness and the reminder of all of the beauty that is hidden among the dust of this crazy city.