Our landlord is a kind man and looks after us as his tenants very well. Any problem we have he fixes almost immediately and he is definitely not money hungry as he always asks us if we are okay for money, offers us to pay the rent later of even offers us to lend us money. He is very open minded for Egyptian standards. He understands that two unmarried women can live on their own without their fathers and have male friends. Although since our arrival Anna is ‘married’. She is engaged and her fiance is in the army so it makes it easy for her to say that she’s married and that her ‘husband’ is not able to join her in Egypt because of his work. I, on the other hand, have made clear that I am not married- I think two married women living on their own without their husbands is more diffucult to make believable for the conservative lot in our building. People tend to look older than they are in this country but we guess our landlord is in his early 50’s. He is educated and doesn’t seem too poor, yet he is not married which seems a rarity in this country. In our first two months in Egypt we saw him at least once a week or so, but now we only tend to see him when the rent is due. Since we’re western women from the big city on a busy schedule we just want to go in(to his flat, which is next to ours but he spends most of his time in another flat in Camp Caesar not too far way from our neighbourhood), have a bit of chit chat, pay the rent and get out. Landlord seems to enjoy our company and expects us to hang around all evening. We always tend to see him together but I had two encounters with him when I was alone and on those occasions it seemed like hunting season had just opened. During the last encounter a few days ago I had to ask him something and he invited me into his flat. We sorted the matter out and had a little chit chat. I was just coming from uni and was carrying some assignments which he offered to help me with. I indeed needed some help so I politely accepted. When finished he started telling me that his family (which we met on a few occasions) really liked me, that he thought I was beautiful and if I considered staying in Egypt. He then kissed my hand. Thinking for a few seconds how to get out of this rather embarrassing situation I stood up and told him I had some more homework to do which he couldn’t help me with. He then stood up as well and held me by my upper arms as if he wanted to hug or kiss me. I resisted firmly by leaning backwards, thanked him very much for his help and ran for cover. Dealing with Landlord has now officially become a minefield. We do need his help occasionally and I am grateful for what he’s doing for us but I don’t want to be too friendly because that is giving him ideas, apparently. I am saddened by this whole matter; this is yet another aspect that is keeping me from living the life I am accustomed to in which I interact with middle aged men- or men of any age- on a professional or personal level rather than being forced to (non-)interact on a sexual one.
There are also things I don’t really understand. He doesn’t know me, but what makes him think I would swap my independent life in the funkiest city on the planet where I want to finish my studies and gain (self)-employment for a life with a middle aged man in a city where I feel I can’t really be myself because of all the social conventions, in a Third World country with an infrastructure to match. Anna and I have complained to him, when he asked us about our experience in Egypt, about annoying Egyptian men and how less free we feel here than we do at home. Maybe he thinks he is a good match, which I’m sure he might be for some Egyptian women. Maybe he thinks considering my age I must be desperate to get married since Egyptian women in general tend to marry young. Maybe he just wants a visa. Even if I wanted an Egyptian sugar daddy as an independent fairy with feminist tendencies I probably would make his life a living hell. He might be open-minded he’s still Egyptian and middle aged. Although he admires the Continent- in opposition to America which he does not seem to have a lot of respect for, he’s never been to Europe or the States so he can only guess what life would be like where we’re from.
How to be polite and not too nice. If I will successfully dodge this minefield Landlord is gonna miss out on a great deal of my warmth and kindness. This fairy ain’t nice and smiley to you no more.