Useful Arabic 1: Ma fi karaba
Ma fi karaba
‘There’s no electricity’ is one of the first complete sentences I learnt how to say in Arabic and it has come in extremely useful ever since, as a tentative question, an exasperated exclamation or a resigned statement.
Lebanon has electricity issues, to say the least. I won’t go into the ins and outs (or the ons and offs) of them here, except to recount a brief episode from the other night, when not only was there no government electricity (normal) but no private generator either (not normal). I lay awake at 2am wondering why. Then I realised with a certain degree of satisfaction (only a certain degree because it was nearly 30 degrees in the room without the air con) that I actually had enough Arabic to ask the conciege for an answer in the morning.
In the end there was no need as our English speaking neighbour was there to translate for us but if I had had to use my Arabic I would have said:
Bil layal, kan ma fi karaba bass kan ma fi motor kamen. Laysh?
In the night, there was no electricity, but there was no generator either. Why?
Apologies to any Lebanese Arabic speakers for my terrible phonetic spelling and probably grammar too (corrections welcome), but I felt it was important to record my sentence somewhere as I have a feeling it may come in useful again.
p.s. The answer to the question I didn’t have to ask was:
the concierge couldn’t switch on the generator because he was sleeping
(wish I had been too)