In my quest to assimilate to my new life here, my introverted self has taken a vow to break out of my shell and get to know some new people. And even though I may grudgingly resent having to change out of my pyjamas most of the time and go and meet somebody or another, I have been somewhat consistent to my vow. So it’s along that line of thought that I forced myself last Saturday to shower (which I try to do regularly), put on make-up (which I try to never do at all), get into some nice clothes (didn’t put on heels though – that would have been over-kill for me) and go to a henna party for a girl I don’t know organised by a girl I don’t know and attended by a bunch of other girls I also don’t know.
What’s a henna party you ask? Well it’s an Egyptian – or the Middle Eastern – version of an all girls bachelorette party. Except that this particular bride-to-be was not actually a bride-to-be but was in fact already a bride, or the more accurate description would be a happily married wife of over a year. So why the henna? Because her husband was in Egypt most of the past year and was just recently able to get to Calgary. So obviously the Egyptian community ladies jumped at the chance to get together, dance like crazy, eat just as crazily, get henna tattoos (I have no idea where they found a henna lady in Calgary) and make dirty jokes about sex.
Back home in Cairo I usually tried to avoid these parties like the plague; I don’t dance, hate most arabic music, hate all loud music, don’t usually eat that well at crowded functions, hate gossip and find the not-so-subtle sexual belly-dancing half naked ladies prancing around a put off (I seem like such a prude – I assure you I’m not). Which are all essential ingredients for a successful henna party.
So there I was on a typical cold Calgary evening after having driven 45 minutes to get to the party room of a typical Calgarian condominium when I walk in and a blast of pure Egyptian social frenzy hits me. I did my dues, talked and chatted around for an hour and then got the hell out of there.
I walked into my house at midnight to find my husband sleeping on the couch. He woke as I came in and sleepily asked me how it was;
I shrug off my coat; “For the last hour and a half I felt that I was back home in Cairo.”
“Then you had fun, right?”
“No, it felt exactly like home, but not in the good way!”