Gilded Serpent presents...
Rhea's Travel to Syria .
5 -Sex and the Single Girl
The Trials and Travails of a Lone Female Traveler
Rhea of Athens
from Part 4
shopping at the Souk (not an ordinary store) any male who approaches you (if
you're a female of any age or appearance) and says "welcome",
"where are you from?", "do you like Syria?", "sit down", "do you want tea?" wants two things.
The first is to take your money for his goods at inflated
prices, while telling you that everything is hand made and,
if it's his jewelry, hand made by him.
The second is to have a liaison with you, the end result being carnal knowledge which
you will be fortunate to participate in, as he is the lover
of all lovers and only deigns to dip his member in the most
the Nubian horse and cart driver taking me around Aswan after agreeing on 10 Egypt pounds for one hour. He would try to take me by his
friend's shops, stop and offer me a coke (you will be offered
and then he will demand you pay if you drink it) and try
various other ruses. When nothing worked and we had exhausted
our conversational gambits (are you married, children, jobs,
etc.) he turned to me with a broad grin full of broken teeth
and informed me he had two wives and that he was too much
for the both of them, but if I played my cards right, or
even wrong, I too could experience this seething cauldron
of untrammeled manliness.
As hard as it was to restrain myself, I gave him the
stock answer I had taken to in desperation, weariness and
self-defense. "10 pounds, one hour, no stopping, no talking."
the best thing to do is point to your throat and grimace
and cough, meaning it is painful to talk. It's better to
have some Lozenges in your hand so that he won't try to
take you to his friend's pharmacy. He will anyway, as his
friends medicine, like his own member, is superior but he
will give up quicker and just drive away.
I was in Damascus, I discovered two lovely restaurants with
live music, dervishes, etc. I had gone to the first one
and the waiter spoke excellent rapid fire English. The
following night I went to the other, relatively close by
the first. I played my cymbals, Bendir
and a little Darboka with the
One of the musicians doubled as a dervish and removed
his Galibiyait to reveal his dervish
clothes and put on his Sufi hat to dance. When he was through,
tourists went wild asking me where I was from. "Greece." "But ow can you dance like
zis?" "I live close to Turkey" I said, not wanting to go into how the American style
effectively combines all styles. I never said I am American
while traveling in the Middle East. Not from fear, although
you never know, but the nuisance factor, unless you like
having inane conversations with opinionated nitwits or even
dance has many different countries in it." Now you can have
Everyone took photos of me and with me. One little
girl put on my cymbals and we posed together for her mother.
They were from Nablus.
At the end,
as I left to go to the other restaurant I turned to find
that the musician dervish was with me. "Where you go now?
You like tea?" Unless you would like to have carnal knowledge
with this guy, don't go. It's as simple as that. "No,
thank you. I go now to Effel.."
"To dance?" "Yes, and play my cymbals with the orchestra."
The previous night I had been invited to the stage and offered
a seat and microphone and played as a comedian plied his
trade. Of course, I became his foil as he told everyone
I was from Greece (everyone is shouting "Younani,
Younani" and giving me the thumbs
up with big smiles. Believe me, it would have put a damper
on the party if I said I was from America). He kissed my hand and we left the stage together
at the end of his act as it was now the turn of the handsome
singer and they rarely want competition.
come with you?" Hmm. What to say, to say no after having
shared those musical moments seems crass. Still I know
this end desire. "We go for tea?" Now I have him. It's
a minimum of 300 SP ($6) and for sure he is only interested
in an easy lay. "Okay" I say "Tea" and he follows me in.
Once inside I see that many of the same people are there
as last night and they begin shouting "Younani,
Younani" and make finger cymbal
playing motions with their hands.
looks a little overwhelmed and retreats downstairs. "Good,"
I think "Now I've lost him." But where is my English speaking
waiter from last night? He is located and places me in
an elevated level close to yet another Palestinian family.
I tell him
about the guy and he tells me not to worry. Another waiter
comes to me and is cheeky, so I ask for the other guy.
Off he goes and who should show up as "the other guy" but
the dervish musician, apparently having waiting downstairs
to see who I will choose to have carnal knowledge with.
"No, no. Not him. The other waiter."
He leaves crest-fallen, his expectant smile slipping
down to his chest, to be replaced by my first waiter, who
now, unbeknownst to me, thinks it is HE that I have "chosen".
He tells me reassuringly. "But don't dance. The boss is
angry." Completely perplexed, I agree but soon the musicians
are inviting me to the stage and the audience urging me
to dance so I say "what the hell" and go for it. It is
only in the final denoument that
I realize that the waiter is the one who didn't want me
to dance as no casual carnal knowledge sharer of his is
going to disgrace herself on stage with this sharmouta (Arabic for prostitute) dance.
I sit down
to satisfied smiles and applause and receive the sweets,
fruit and tea that your 300 SP entitles you to. 400 would
be the whole menu - what I had plus food aplenty.
The Palestinian family spokeswoman, the grandmother,
takes me around and introduces me to other tables where
everyone seems to know her.
I am invited
to dance a little at every table and finally return to my
seat. The grandmother stuffs all the leftover fruit and
sweets into her capacious bag and seeing, that I didn't
eat mine and smilingly admiring my semi-slim figure, asks
if she can have mine. "No problem." And off they all go,
smiling and waving, each one stopping at my table to say
goodbye, down to the children.
my waiter and invites me to go to a disco. "No, thank you.
I go now to my hotel." "I take you?" "No, I go alone." "What
hotel?" "I can find it." I don't want to go from the frying
pan into the fire. He disappears. I prepare to leave.
He is downstairs, waiting outside the door. "We go to the
disco?" Oh Boy! Now I am curt. The Souk
is empty and dark and I don't want anyone following me.
It's not the safety issue.
It's the annoyance factor. I have only mastered the
teasing bantering with Middle Eastern men when I want to
work somewhere and only with the top dog or the guy who
I know many
women who dance because of the male attention. As a cute
little girl I was a warrior princess, disdaining any and
all male attention. If a boy asked to be my boyfriend I
would tell him he would have to beat me in a fight and I
never lost a fight till I was 14. I could take on 5 or
6 boys at once and the teenage boys used to set me up in
fights and bet on me, like a fighting rooster.
deflated him and he left. Another man follows me later
closer to my hotel and I try the usual diversionary tactics:
walking not on the sidewalks but on the road, crossing from
one side to another, nothing works. At the last lonely
stretch, I see two men approaching.
I scream at him. He scurries off. They raise their
to ask what happened. Maybe I prefer one of them. That
can be the only reason a woman alone rejects a man in the
Middle East. She wants another,
because if she didn't want to be bothered by a man she wouldn't
go out alone. If she didn't have her brother, father, husband,
etc. with her, she takes a taxi.
if you are unaccompanied by a man in the Middle East (not
in major hotels usually but don't count on it) but are alone
or with a group of women, you must know that whatever your
stated purpose for visiting their country - tourism, shopping,
business, a kidney transplant - you are there to find a
man. Once you have found him, to ---- him, because you
don't need a man to protect you financially. That is obvious.
You only want sex and, for some reason are unsatisfied with
what you have found so far, or want a change. Otherwise
you wouldn't want be unaccompanied.
Because if you have a man, he will NEVER let you go
with a bunch of women covered up with head scarves, etc.
all holding tightly to each other and adverting their eyes
or giggling). And if he does, he doesn't care about you
and that's why you are looking.
I have heard
the most elaborate stories that seem to have nothing to
do with this carnal end result. After hearing the stories,
you wonder why the guy doesn't write a book or a screenplay.
The Egyptians are best at this and you wonder why all that
creative energy doesn't find some less carnal purpose.
Perhaps it's a combination of the natural romantic poet
inside the Egyptian combined with the restrictive access
to available females.
It's said that the Egyptians write, the Lebanese publish
and the Iraqis read.
So it must
be the writing instinct in its oral expression.
might ask - well Rhea, if you know all this why subject
yourself to it? When I was little, I wanted adventure.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
Rhea’s Travel to Syria,Part
4 – Damascus
Rhea’s Travel to Syria,
Part 3– Surrounded by Men in the Airport
Rhea’s Travel to Syria,
Part 2 – The Airport Nightmare
Rhea's Travels to Syria, Part
1 - The Delusion is Shattered
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Playing them well can greatly enhance your dance performance.
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by Linda Grondahl
Unlike most of the music that we are familiar with from
the Middle East that are usually unrequited love songs or patriotic
love of country songs, the rai songs are about drinking, suicide,
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and the passion and pain of actual love making.