Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Aleppo-Cairo airplane mysteries

Yesterday, we flew from Aleppo, Syria, back to Cairo. The whole experience of going through security, checking in, passport control, going through security (again), boarding the flight, and the flight itself provided many mysteries. More mysteries than you might expect on an EgyptAir flight from Aleppo to Cairo. I present them here for your amusement/mental exercise.

So many passengers on the flight both checked and carried on to the plane massive amounts of bedding. You know those large, plastic, zippered carrying cases that bedding sometimes is packaged in when you buy it? It seemed like everyone besides us had one of those. And it wasn't like they were using the handy case for other personal goods. As far as we could tell, they were all full of actual bedding. What is going on here?

During the flight, someone actually tried to smoke in the bathroom. Somehow, the crew solved this mystery for us and we got to see who it was and everything. There didn't seem to be any consequences for it, though, aside from a public shaming by the chief steward.

Two women traveling together who were unveiled through the check-in and boarding process suddenly veiled themselves midway through the flight. I know this sometimes happens, but Aleppo is very conservative and so I was surprised to see it happen on the way to Cairo.

Speaking of veiled women, here is the biggest mystery of all. Jeremy and I tried to come up with multiple explanations to solve this one, but we were stymied at every turn. Some minor piece of evidence kept derailing our theories. Here goes: On our flight, there was an elderly British woman wearing the veil. Whatever, I know, but stay with me.

She didn't appear to speak Arabic.

She wore the veil somewhat awkwardly, and it was pretty obvious that it was not something she had done all her life. I might add here that she was wearing a fanny pack with her muhajjiba outfit.

Still, whatever, I know. But wait - she was accompanied by an elderly Hajje man (a Muslim man wearing a white cap to signify he has gone on the Hajj), in a wheelchair. And he didn't appear to speak any English.

Ready, set, solve the mystery!


JosephJ said...

I know! I know! I've seen a similar cultural example. I taught a divorced British woman as a missionary who was your typical Essex resident (not to be confused with "Essex girl") with 4 kids. Maybe the family wasn't typical, as they had a pet goat... but anyway, for the explanation:

At one point she was working at a Turkish restaurant and fell in love with one of the fellows working there. She learned a little Turkish, and taught him just a little English. They married, opened their own restaurant, and started a life together. Now, she is LDS, but she began to wear a traditional headscarf out of respect for her husband's culture. When Jen and I went for a visit, I also didn't know quite what to make of the interweaving of cultures... but she was just as lovely as when we taught her. They have since divorced, so now I wonder if she is still maintaining the scarf?

Crys said...

I was thinking late in life romance as well :)

Merkley Jiating said...

Hmmm. Too many words I can't understand are causing my brain to shut down. :) The other two ideas sound like good ones though.

Liz Johnson said...

British Mail-order Senior Citizen Wife? That's my guess. :)

Andrew said...

Egyptians overpack. Big time.

Like this car we saw going from Aqaba to Nuweiba. Yeah.

That solves the bedding issue, I guess.

Steven said...

A FANNY PACK?! Oh dear.

Kristen said...

He was holding the elderly British tourist hostage, dressed her in the veil so she would fit in, and she was desperately hoping someone would notice the fanny pack and rescue her. Duh.


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