A week in Beirut: Wednesday
There is still water today, although there isn’t enough for the washing machine, according to our cleaner (the one from the Philippines who predicts the weather, not the Palestinian one who loves plants– and who from today is officially our ‘gardener’ instead of our cleaner).
I want to ask the concierge family downstairs, but I’m afraid I might confuse matters as I also need to talk to them about a delivery of drinking water for our new cooler, which is due to arrive but hasn’t. There’s only so much you can do with the words (ma) fi (there is/isn’t) and mai (water).
Luckily our ever helpful third floor neighbour is on hand for translation, although before doing so he gently reprimands the concierge’s wife, telling her she needs to learn English.
No I need to learn Arabic! I say
I’ll teach you he replies
Then before I have a chance to respond I drink black tea
For a second I think this is my first lesson and he wants me to translate the sentence, which I start frantically trying to do in my head.
But then, seeing my confusion, he repeats I drink black tea. Invite me to drink black tea at your house and I’ll teach you Arabic.
I smile all the way back up in the lift wondering what the first lesson would really be, and whether we would have water for tea.