Ep. 6 – Joyride to Egypt: From a Mermaid Princess Named Scheherazade

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Pulling the printed email out from under my pillow, I read it again by the early morning light. A whole ocean of opportunity offered itself to my imagination. I vowed, Insha’Allah, God Willing, I will make the most of this opportunity, and use every ounce of my imagination. I had made up my mind. Yes! I would trust this man. I decided I had absolutely nothing to lose by accepting his words as honest. Even if it was all a dream, I decided I would swallow it whole. Hook, line, and sinker. I told myself excitedly, “Yes! Head for the open ocean, girl, and see if he can reel you in!” I was ready to swim like a mermaid princess named “Scheherazade!“


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Shahrazad relating a story to the Sultan

The beguiling heroine and captivating story teller of “Arabian Nights,” also known as “A Thousand And One Nights,” Scheherazade was not a mermaid. She was, however, my newest mentor in the art of Love. I studied her fascinating character as much as I enjoyed her stories, focusing on her method of holding the Sultan’s rapt attention, while dancing with his henchman’s sword poised to slice her throat. Now there’s a life coach for teaching self confidence! Every night the Sultan would reply to Scheherazade, “Tell me your story, as you like, my Dear, anyway I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.“ But every morning, the Sultan woke up more interested than the night before to hear the rest of the story. All Scheherazade had to do to stay alive was keep nesting stories within stories, making sure she never came to the end of any one of them! After a thousand and one nights, he was completely head over heels in love with her, and they lived happily ever after.
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'Scheherazade,' by Hermann Emil Sprengel, 1881. Click for original

On the one hand, it seemed like a great strategy. All I had to do was hold my head up and keep swimming – and write emails interesting enough to capture Mr. Answer To My Prayer’s attention. His undying love would be awesome, too. On the other hand, I wasn’t too sure I could play the part of Scheherazade… but I was definitely interested to try!

I sat down for a third night in front of my computer, nestled in the space between my kitchen and the dining room table. The table was covered with a burgundy colored silk fabric from Syria, embroidered with golden threads in a rich pattern of arabesque flourishes, and a centerpiece of plum scented candles burned slowly from five dainty flames.

hit Refresh to display this! The children were asleep, some great new arabic music cd’s were loaded into the 5 disc changer, and the light in the adjoining living room was low. The sliding glass patio door was open, allowing a slight breeze to cool the house and causing the candles to flicker. Shadows danced on every wall from the many houseplants decorating the living room with their lush green foliage and brass Turkish planters. I didn’t know it at the time, but my little condominium was germinating the seeds of an oasis.

I wrote quite a long email, and satisfied with my first dive into the ocean, I hit send and let her swim. “You go girl!” I encouraged myself out loud, and laughed at the giddy sensation in my head. I stood up in the space between the couch and the patio door, and danced with Scheherazade till the cd was finished. The music was over, but I was still dancing, hearing the instruments playing in my heart. It was a symphony of classic arabian music, something I bought back when I was 18, from the world music bin in the Tower Records Store. I didn’t understand the uncanny significance at the time, but the album was the music of Um Kolthoum’s “Inta Omri” (“You Are My Life”).

When I returned on the fourth night to my computer, I found an interesting surprise. A dance partner!

From: Mohamed Abdel Hamid

To: k_aisha@hotmail.com

Date: Thurs, 10 June 1999 11:12:19 +0300

Subject: Re: salam ya Mohammed ;^))

Dear Aisha

Oh my God!!! Where are you hiding, very great lady, all this past time? If you will not be my wife for any reason, I love to be your true good friend forever. What you don’t know about me, Arabic language is my mother tongue, and English is my second language. I understand every word you wrote to me, but I feel my English language and my computer skills are not professional like yours, because I am a self learner for both.

k_Aisha wrote:
issalam alaikum ya Mohammed!
;^)) how nice, your name is Mohammed…

Thank you

… the man’s name in the lesson dialogues of my arabic language book is mohammed… I will say some of the lines of the dialogue, and see what you will say back!

izzayak ya Mahammed?

Ezzayak ya Mohamed

hit Refresh to display this! of course, please feel free to give me corrections, I will be glad to know if I say something incorrectly, or if you think it’s better put a different way, that’s good to know, too.

Well, anyway, thank you for your nice letter and the pictures, too, Mohammed. I have to tell you I think they are all wonderful, but I especially like the one of you on the beach.

I love the ocean very much, it’s so deeply fascinating to me. Where was this picture taken?

it was in Alexandria, Egypt

and I’m soooo intrigued about your life in Egypt… oh, I have so many questions,

feel free to ask it all

but I will be asking them over time… I hope you don’t mind, I prefer to do this slowly

do it by the way you like, some times I prefer to do some special things slowly too.

I’d like to tell you a little bit more about myself. First, my divorce is now final, I am a very honest and faithful woman who endured nearly 20 years of marriage to a mean, angry alchoholic, and would not have divorced him except that he was just as mean to our two children. No one deserves to live like that, especially my children! So what I learned was the value of friendship, and the fact that I am a woman who prefers marriage. Hahaha but I will only marry the man who wants to also be my best friend, next time! This means I am not in a hurry…

but to be honest with you, I am in a hurry. I don’t like to force you, but I would like to say I am very tired of being by myself for long, and getting tired of looking for my right partner

I’m in search of a real friendship, with someone who will understand this… and I’ve seen it described beautifully in writings about Islam on the internet. My own preferences are a lot more important to me this time around, and I prefer an arabic man… I think it’s an intuitive thing related very deeply to who I am.
Anyway, since I live far away from you in Virginia, and I’m in no hurry to start dating, I just want to pursue friendship since I think that’s the most important key. And for this, distance isn’t an issue… I think it’s a compatibility and chemistry kind of thing, don’t you?

I am very sure you are right

I’m american, but my looks are mediterranean, or middle eastern. I’m asked all the time if I am Greek, or Iranian, or Moroccan. In Italy everybody spoke Italian to me, assuming I was Italian!

So you are all in one, a wonderful girl. I will be very lucky if I get you all. When I saw your photo, I can think you are an Egyptian girl born in the States

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click for original

anyway, my looks come from my grandmother. I also rather resemble the girls in the fresco paintings on the walls of the ancient Palace of Knossos, in the Greek Island of Crete… hahaha pretty romantic background, huh?! But that is all I know… my family history is a funny story, and what I do know of it is verrrry short!

In some ways, I think it’s sad that I don’t know more about my family history. But I am a thinker, maybe I would drive you crazy because I love to look at things from every angle.

I do, too

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in some ways it’s more fun, not knowing, because I can be anything I like, even a princess mermaid named Scheherazade if I want!

I love to pursue any interest that stirs me deeply!

Recently I bought several arabic music cd’s from http://www.rashid.com, and I love playing them, they make me feel great. I’m smiling all the time and dancing (hahaha when I’m alone), and I even copied them to cassettes for my car!

Can you e-mail for me some? If you don’t mind?

And I sometimes pick up words in the lyrics that I learned in my arabic dialogues from my book. That’s nice, because I see I’m learning a little.

If Allah wants me to be your husband, and your best friend, you will speak Arabic perfectly in three months!

Another thing I’m interested in is reading legends and histories, always of far away exotic lands… maybe I am too romantic!

Yes you are! And I am very romantic, too

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The first book I loved as a child was “The Little Mermaid.“ You probably saw the recent Disney movie of the same story, I love it too, I grew up enjoying the ocean very much and dreaming of faraway, exotic places. I belive that’s why I love the photo of you in the blue suit at the ocean the best…

Right now I’m enjoying reading “A Thousand And One Nights“ very much, and as I’m very sure you already know, Scheherazade is the best storyteller of faraway, exotic places!

My children love for me to tell them the stories after I read them. I only tell them a little at a time, when we are in the car going to or coming home from work/school. I’m currently telling them a story of Shams and Nur, two brothers who were, a long time ago, joint Wazirs to the Sultan of Cairo… they love to hear stories!

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click for original

Anyway, these are some of the things which make me happy, and I’m in the mood to put some more happiness in my life!
And, ohh, the ideas you generate from your email, hahaha come on now, Mohammed, you are painting a very sweet picture!

You are more sweet, and you are the girl I am looking for all my past life

Well, I’m not sure you had in mind a woman with dependent children (a 10 year old and a 7 year old) still at home…

I never think to have children not my own, because I did my part perfectly with my own children and finished. And I don’t like to take over another man’s responsibility, but what can I do? When I find the woman I am looking for, it could be impossible to find her again. And if she has already two kids, I prefer to share with her, better than losing her

hit Refresh to display this! …ahhh but just by virtue of being mine, they are not just average children (trust a mama to say such things!) In fact, we just returned from a very quick 6 day vacation to Rome. It was their first trip overseas, and they were terrific!

I am a woman who is enchanted with learning and seeing, and if it means taking a trip to do so, all the better! So I’ve had to pray that my kids would enjoy such things, too, and alhamdulillah I’m delighted to see they are tickled with traveling, too. I took them to meet my parents and sister in Rome… I’ll tell you more another time if you like… it was lots of fun seeing all the sites. I hope you are interested in ancient History, of course egyptian, but also, for instance, ancient Rome and Greece?

I am a computer engineer, that’s my official title, but what I do is create multimedia training applications on cdrom and for the web. I love to do programming, but there are lots of programmers, so I specialized in the field of computer graphic art, and have done very well.

Very smart girl! I will be very glad and proud of you if you will be my wife or even if you will only be my friend

My job is one of the things in my life that I know Allah has truly blessed me with, besides my two sweeties, of course!
And I think I should be upfront with you, and tell you I have already taken care of my future retirement

it is my pleasure to hear that

hahaha and for that matter, I was already planning to retire early for exactly the reasons you give, too! So I’m not the kind of woman who is looking for financial security from a man, although of course I understand and appreciate financial security… hahaha was that stated delicately enough? Well, I just don’t want you to think I’m looking for a ‘sugar daddy,’

This is the only one point I don’t agree with you about in all your nice letter. In my opinion, the lady, when she is looking for financial security in her future husband, for me it doesn’t mean she is looking for a ‘sugar daddy.’ It is her right, especially if she did not save well and invest very well as you did. And for me, it doesn’t mean she is a stupid woman if she did not make or save enough money. Also she could be more intelligent than you, but this is her financial fate which Allah gave her. She has the right to look for financial security in her husband, because both of them are like one person, living in one house, and she doesn’t have to look for a broke one like herself. I hope I did not upset you by my different idea.

because I’m not. I already save well and invest very well, and yes, retiring early from the rat race is exactly why I do so! I’m honest with you that I am looking for love and friendship in a potential husband.

That is all that I am looking for

hit Refresh to display this! I’m even more honest when I tell you, I’m an intelligent woman, and I need a man who is challenged by me, and knows how to challenge me… intellectually… and romantically, too, for that matter.

I have a lot of energy, I know this, and these two areas, especially, were big areas of incompatibility with my ex husband. My marriage was a big disappointment for me, Mohammed…

I really want to be sure of happiness in my next marriage that is warm and loving, and sweet and fun, and full of romance… I wonder if you understand…

I am very understanding to every word you wrote to me, and all your feelings, too. You are not wrong, you are very right, and as you said, you felt the similar meaning in my words, too

maybe I’m wrong, but I seemed to pick up a similar sentiment in your words?
I’m sorry if that was too much personal information… well, I just looked back and saw how long this letter is! I think I’ll wait for your response before I say more.
But I do want to say thank you for your nice email… so…
Thank you!
shukran ya mohammed… tisba ala khayr

Tisbah ala khair


Thank you very much for your nice long letter, I really enjoy it very much, and I love to be yours.

When I had hit ‘send’ the night before, I had felt satisfied with the big long email I had written. I had put all my effort into it, and swam for the deep end of the ocean as fast as I could. But that wasn’t his grandfather’s fishing boat he was following me in! Wow, I didn’t anticipate this speed, nor the rush of adrenaline accompanying the feeling of being chased!

I also didn’t miss the fact that he was smarter than the average fisherman. He obviously read my entire letter before hitting ‘reply,’ and his strategy of inserting his responses between my words was not only unusual, it was quite appealing. Changing the font colors was pretty cool, too! Reading his responses this way gave me the distinct feeling of engaging in a conversation, as opposed to the more customary serial approach to correspondence. In fact, his polite speech and his beautiful manners seemed less like chasing, and more like dancing. He not only followed me, he joined me side by side, and it seemed pretty clear he was quite interested to lead, as well.

“Fascinating, Captain!“ I said aloud in my best impersonation of Spock speaking to Captain Kirk, on my favorite TV program, “Star Trek”. Obviously, I would have to swim faster… maybe something closer to warp 7!

I hit ‘save.’ I hit ‘print.’ Then I hit ‘reply.’


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22 thoughts on “Ep. 6 – Joyride to Egypt: From a Mermaid Princess Named Scheherazade

  1. I started off with the link you shared in your comment…and now Im hooked. I just can’t stop even though I know im running out of time, plus I am from cellphone an no wifi connection at the moment. I’ll continue when I sign back in. Thank you for your real life story, it’s an inspiration.


  2. “Seemed less like chasing, and more like dancing” – such a beautiful way of looking at Mohammed’s response to your letter.

    It’s fun to read about the beginning of your relationship. I’m happy that the two of you found each other (and love : )


  3. I am so drawn in by your story. I so wish we lived closer as I, too, have stories which all started in 1999 when I met the love of my life in Malaysia. He was Australian. I have not had the courage to fully write that story but one day I will encouraged by your sharing. I am sincerely happy for you.



    • Lol, 1999 was a great year, wasnt it?! I really do hope you will one day write your story, Janet. For a long time I’ve been flipping through my binders reading the story, and I swear it’s my favorite story! I was so happy when we finally got dsl out here in the countryside last november, and the idea popped up to make a blog.

      Thanks so much for your comments and friendship, blow a kiss to the wind in Oakland, you have no idea how much I miss the bay area! I wish I live right next door to you there! xoxoxo ;^)


  4. Thanks for sharing your story… I enjoy coming back each week and reading a another piece of this exciting life you are embarking on… Brave woman… I don’t think I would be able to do this…


    • You are very welcome, Lor! Thanks for your encouraging words, lol, sometimes I dont feel very brave… I just barely after all these years here got to the point where I can go to the little store down the street all by myself to get some bread… Isnt that crazy??!!


  5. What an interesting read,what a magical story ! I so much enjoyed your introduction and the Scheherazade connections as well as the Greek references and the Cretan fresco from the palace of Knossos.Your life is absolutely captivating and so is your writing style !!! Great share,Aisha ! Doda 🙂


    • Thanks so much for visiting my blog, Doda, and I’m very happy you enjoy my funny joyride to Egypt! I really enjoyed my time in your little slice of blog heaven today, I love your posts and beautiful colorful photos, and look forward to seeing more of you! Welcome and more warm greetings from Egypt! ♥♥♥ ;^)


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