Saturday, March 26, 2011

In Egypt, two marriage proposals and a tough question: Cousin or neighbour?

After three years of planning to, for the last few weeks I have been studying beginner's Arabic. It is freaking hard, but then again totally worthwhile. Already I can spot letters and parts of words on signs and pick up numbers and days of the week when I am out in public (mostly at Aramex, when they say "counter 2").

My teacher is a lovely man from Egypt. One morning he came to class and told us about a conundrum that had arisen the evening before: his 18-year-old daughter had received two marriage proposals, and although they were both from very impressive men, they had placed him pretty much between a rock and a hard place. The problem was that one was the son of his neighbour and the other was the son of his sister, and each would be bitter if their child was not chosen.

Of course he's telling this story as if it's the most natural thing in the world that his 18-year-old daughter is getting two marriage proposals on the same day – let alone one of them from her freaking cousin. Why is he telling us this? I thought to myself, uncomfortable and ready to be embarrassed for him.

That's when I really looked at him – he was positively beaming – and I realised this type of thing is totally normal in this part of the world. I just don't get to hear about it very often.


Rina said...

Marriage of cousins happens.

Religiously, It's not preferred but it's not that it's not allowed either but it’s well known that it’s not preferred.

Anonymous said...

"Marriage of cousins happens …"

Which is why places such as the UAE have the highest incodence of genetic diseases in the world.

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