Recently Bss had to go to Twam Hospital to see a doctor. Twam segregates the sexes more than any other public place that I have seen. Each department (e.g. ENT, Neurology, etc) has a separate room (the other hospitals that I have been to just have separate areas, usually with a partition between them).

At one point I was standing right next to this sign (but hadn't really read it) when an older Emirati lady came up to me. I assume that she was Emirati since Twam is primarily for UAE citizens and she was wearing an abaya and shayla; she was also wearing the burka face covering that many older UAE and Oman ladies wear - similar to this picture). She asked me, in Arabic, something like "hadha ash asha3a?" and pointed the same direction as this sign. (I hope my Arablish transliteration is right. I also couldn't swear that those were her exact words, but they capture what I retro-actively figured out that she was asking.) I had no idea what "asha3a" was, so I apologized and told her that I could not speak Arabic. I tried to remember the word so that I could ask someone at work what it meant.

Then I noticed this sign and took a picture of it so I could look the words up. In Arabic it says "qasam ash asha3a nisaa". I knew "nisaa" was women, so I assumed that the other two words had to mean something about x-rays department. So when I got back to work, I asked, and sure enough "qasam" is department and "asha3a" is x-ray. So she was asking me if this was the x-ray department. D'oh!

After I learned all this, I was looking at this picture again. Obviously, like many people of her generation, this lady never got the chance to learn to read, otherwise she wouldn't have had to ask me for help. And while I can read Arabic, it doesn't help me if I don't know what the word that I'm reading means. But, between us we had all the knowledge we needed. We just couldn't get them together.


nurse on duty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nurse on duty said...

Nice experience Brn.
There is a big percentage of emirati people living here in Al Ain who never got the chance to read and write. When I came here 2 years ago, I was surprised to see a lot people using the ink for their thumbmark/fingerfrint when a consent is being obtained by a doctor whether it is for surgery, anesthesia or even for a simple procedure.

By the way, Tawam hospital is also catering expats, provided that you have a valid health card or valid health insurance ( Daman ).

Brn said...

Thanks nod,

yeah, I talked with some of my Emirati co-workers about this and they confirmed that lots of people from the older generation, especially the poorer ones, never had the chance to learn to read or write. Just another reminder of how much has changed here. I had forgotten until you mentioned it, but I have seen people using a fingerprint in lieu of a signature a couple of times.

Marcus Aurelius said...

I had a similar experience.

The Empress and I (at this time The Empress was my wife-to-be) were visiting her sister & brother in law in Muscat. We went for a day drive and I had to take a bio-break so we pulled into a rest stop/mosque. I could not find the CR (aka restroom) and thought I spied one.

I asked a local "wain hummum" he then pointed at a nearby door in the side of the mosque, he then turned and went on his way. I then dashed for the door not noticing the pix of women on the door (or perhaps not regarding it too much I really had to go). So I get into a stall and I hear some people walk in and enter the stalls next to me. Next I hear some chit-chat. Yeap, women.

So I calmly (at least on the outside) finish my business and then waited and prayed. When I thought the coast was clear I made a dash for the car and boogeyed on out! I drove somewhat fast to put as much distance between that stop & us. Fortunately, my prayers were heard and nothing became of it.