Lima Al-Azzeh

Dead Giveaway

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2010 at 5:58 am

Over the past year, Vancouver’s ESL schools have experienced an influx of Saudi Arabian students predominantly of the male persuasion. How do I know this? Well, being middle eastern myself, I can easily identify my brethren. For those Westerners suffering from cross-race effect here’s a few tips on how to easily identify Saudi Arabian men from other garden variety Middle Easterners:

(1)They tend to travel in packs.

(2) They will likely always be smoking their very un-Vancouver Marlboro cigarettes.

(3) They will always smell like strong cologne.

(4) They’re “close talkers”, extremely close. If you see a group of Middle Eastern men crowding the entrances of ESL schools all over downtown Vancouver and their faces aren’t within an inch or two of one another, then they’re definitely not Saudi.

(5) Saudi men only come in two sizes, Laurel or Hardy. There is no in-between. They also typically travel in very distinctive Laurel and Hardy pairs. One man represents the usual beanpole prototype and the other slightly resembles an overfed gorilla. If there is such a thing as an overfed gorilla. I’m not saying this to be discriminatory, this is pure fact based on years of observation.

However, there are some arabs who have been so accustomed to life in the west that despite the above tell-tale signs, they can be difficult to truly identify. Being an unusually unidentifiable Arab myself, I can understand how this can occur. I’ve been mistaken for Italian, Greek, Mexican, Persian and even one or two “half-Japanese” claims. I’m rarely, if ever, pinned as an Arab. So what’s to say that there aren’t others out there suffering from a crisis of “no-race” as opposed to “cross-race”? Even my finely tuned “Arab-radar” can be wrong.

Then one day, I discovered it. The one surefire way to identify a true Arab.

I was a waitress in a restaurant in downtown Vancouver. It wasn’t a particularly eventful evening. I had enough tables to keep me upbeat but not enough that I couldn’t spend a little time chit chatting with the customers.

The hostess seated a table and at first glance I thought I had them pegged. There they were, all signs in accordance with my check list. Black, curly hair, naturally tan skin, one Laurel, one Hardy. But just as I started to think I had the whole situation down, a few wrenches were thrown into my theory.

(1) Neither Laurel nor Hardy smelled anything like cigarettes, even their cologne was too subtle to smell right upfront.

(2) When they spoke, their faces remained a good distance apart, they even kept their voices down.

(3) (And this is the part that really threw me off) Laurel and Hardy were joined by a third person who happened to be a woman. Not just any woman, a white woman.

Could it be that I couldn’t adequately identify one of my own? How was I so thrown off? I was intrigued, of course, at the possibility of meeting another “unidentifiable” one.

I go up and greet the table, hoping I can get more clues, maybe a strong accent to cinch the deal. To my dismay, the lady seems to be doing all the talking. I take it as a sign, perhaps these gentleman are exactly as I thought. Perhaps they were just two ESL students out for a little language exercise with their tutor.

I start addressing more and more questions towards the guys and then, Laurel speaks. In absolutely perfect, unfaltering English he asks, “What’s good on the menu?” I take a moment to reassess. Perfect english, so no tutor. I grow increasingly perplexed but intrigued nonetheless. Then I remember the hummus. Thank god, we feature hummus on the menu.

Not to leave Laurel hanging, I answer, “Well the nachos are popular, good for sharing, there’s also the calamari and then I also like the hummus (pronounced with a hard H).”

Laurel instantly glances sideways at his compatriot. I give him time to reassess as I await the moment of truth. He looks back at me, and as he hands me his menu he says, “We’ll take the nachos, and an order of the hummus (hard H).” A sly smile makes its way across his face.

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  1. you are so checky…
    very funny Lima…
    No one can say Hommous as we do.. it is our label anyway…
    But also, no one makes it the way do either.. it is tasty..

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