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Egyptian Culture, Part 4: Powdered Sugar Mustaches

Hospitality is every Egyptian’s middle name. I swear I’ve been lifted to an unbelievable level of good manners here, and I’m enjoying it much more, now that I’m getting used to it. Our first year back, we lived in our city apartment. All of my husband’s huge social circle beat a path to our door, welcoming him home and greeting his new foreign wife. I cringed whenever the doorbell rang, but now it’s getting easier, as I’m learning the rules guiding everyone’s behavior. For example, Islam encourages nicer replies to any greetings received, and often this inspires beautiful rounds of compliments and blessings. It’s lovely, but so much sugar is rich for my etiquette-challenged blood. There are huge numbers of correct responses to correct greetings. Also, speaking to different classes of people requires an unending variety of appropriate titles to address your guests, particularly in gatherings with people whose names are found (or needed) in your contact list!

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