This past week was Eid. Starting Sunday everyone celebrated the end of Ramadan with visiting/food/presents/prayers. Kids got a week off of school, most businesses were closed, and everyone spends the week visiting and traipsing around in their new clothes.
One day last week my housemate and I went and visited upstairs with our landlord/neighbors. It is a lovely couple with an ornery two year old and another little one on the way. We count ourselves very lucky to have such lovely, good natured folks not only as neighbors, but also as the owners of our flat. We feel well looked after and cared for, which is a great blessing.
They are finishing constructing the fourth floor of the building right now. We asked them what they planned on doing with it and they said they would rent it out. They told us to keep an ear out for any people we know who need a place. Hajaar (the lady) said they didn’t want a local. We laughed, and she did too, but then said, no, really, Sudanese are more difficult. We laughed and said we’re difficult! It is not the first time I have heard this sentiment from house owners who rent out. Foreigners overall are ideal renters because they are known generally to take better care of things, complain less, and have less demands. It is just a little funny to me though because, at least since I moved in, we have not exactly been the easiest tenants. For one, hello!, a house fire! Ok, I guess it wasn’t really our fault, but still Yasser had to oversee three weeks of reflooring/repainting/rewiring in our flat. We also struggle with constant electrical problems and recently my roommates door got slammed shut from the wind, the knob broke, and he had to come with two workmen and basically break into the room. Even with all that (and more) for us to still be considered less problematic and preferable to a local family is kind of nuts.
No less nuts than a lady singling me out on a bus full of locals, and asking me directions on how to get to an area of town. It happened to be the same area of town where I was headed so she said “Ok, I’ll come with you.” We got off together, and got on the other bus. I didn’t know the name of the place she was going, but explained to her where the bus would go and suggested she ask someone else who would probably know better when we got on. I have no idea why she picked me out of the bunch, assumed that I knew Arabic, and assumed that I, a person clearly not from this city/country/continent, would know the area of town she was trying to get to. It felt great to be on the other side of that equation and to help someone else find their way around. A somewhat odd, but lovely interaction.