Saying Yes

Islamic Cairo
 Saying yes has gotten me pretty far in life. 

Saying yes to my husband when we were barely old enough to give our own consent, saying yes to moving to the Middle East with basically a suitcase and a smile, saying yes to graduate school one afternoon after doing some pondering but not that much. 

So when the blind man sitting in front of a Mamluk mosque off sharia khayamiya (tentmaker's street) in Islamic Cairo invited us to come inside, I said yes. Many great adventures have started this way for us. 

This was not one of them. 

I hadn't brought a scarf to cover my head, but the nice man offered me his own neck/armpit scarf. Who could refuse such a gift? Max took it from his shaking hands, wrapped it around my head and whispered "It might be a little soggy". 

Islamic Cairo
What's a soggy armpit scarf in pursuit of a private tour of a 14th century Mamluk mosque with who knows what treasures inside!

Our new friend led us to a small prayer room and beckoned us to sit on the chairs. At this point I realized the mosque was mostly non-existent. A few stone walls, generic carpets and mish mash roof. Maybe it was from the Mamluk period, it probably wasn't.

He took Max's hand and blessed him. After some time he scurried around to take my hand and bless me. His body stood between us and the exit, holding us, perhaps, just a bit hostage. My knuckle cracked under the weight of his grip. He was not unkind, just a little overly familiar. I gave Max the bat signal. Everyone should perfect their "let's scram" face for moments just like this. We thanked the man, paid him and went on our way. 

This is a pretty common tactic to coax a bit of cash out of wide eyed dummies...of which I am sometimes one. I should have seen it coming.   

"Sorry" I said to Max as we stumbled out into the sunlight.

But really, I'm not sorry. You can't let one sweaty armpit scarf get in the way of potential awesomeness.

And yes, Mom, I could see the exit at all times.


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