The setting: Al Ain, United Arab Emirates – the oasis in the desert
The characters: A 28-year-old American girl, her father, and an Arab woman in her 60’s
Our scene opens as the American girl chats with her father in Lulu’s, a popular grocery store. They are waiting for their lunch order to be filled and she asks him to throw a samosa in with the Indian dish because she thinks samosas are tasty delights. Our girl is not wearing a head scarf, but is sporting long, loose pants, a loose-fitting shirt, and a long-sleeved cardigan – quite modest by America standards, and appropriate to the city.
Someone tugs on the girl’s arm and she looks down at a very short, rotund older Arab woman. Hello, she says, tilting her head down with a smile. *tug* It came again. *tug* Sensing the woman wanted to whisper something to her, the tall girl leans down.
“Excuse me, I really don’t mean to be impertinent, but I wanted to tell you something.”
The girl assured her that it was no problem and to go right ahead.
“Well, I just thought that maybe you would want to know so I came over to tell you.”
The girl reassured her to go on.
“You see, if I was in your position I would want to know so I came over to tell you because I would want someone to do that for me.”
The girl nodded, thinking furiously about what this could be about, checked the aisles for other people’s heads…yup, other people's heads were uncovered, too, but maybe the woman wanted her to wear a head scarf anyway? No problem – she had a spare in her purse.
“So I guess I will just tell you because I am in a position easy to see such things…”
By now the girl is thinking ‘Seriously, woman! I’ve got a crick in my neck from leaning down in your face for so long,’ but keeps an encouraging look on her face so the woman will keep talking and hopefully get to the point.
“I believe your zipper is undone.”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, sure enough. In the Middle East, arguably the most modest region in the world, I had omitted to XYZ…and had never been so thankful for the ease of that simple phrase – XYZ – till then. :P I thanked the woman and she gave me a knowing smile and told me to have a nice day. I surreptitiously fixed said issue and headed out to a park with my dad for a picnic lunch…finally modest. ;)