Sunday, October 17, 2010
The Other Entrance
Once, in my ESL class, one of our handouts had this question: What is your favorite restaurant?
Some of my students had an answer, but not many. Ahmed explained why.
Our women, he said, don't eat out.
I knew if I parsed his statement too closely I would get offended, so I let it pass. I love Ahmed.
Shortly after that, I visited the zoo with a Somali friend and her son. I paid for the zoo, so she wanted to buy dinner. The problem was, she'd only eaten in a restaurant once in her life. And she didn't enjoy it.
In the spirit of adventure, though, she took me to a Somali restaurant with a separate women's dining room. (The door is pictured above.) She said she would feel more comfortable there. And it was lovely dinner. The staff couldn't have been more friendly and welcoming. But I couldn't help wondering what was happening in the other room, the one where we weren't allowed.
So I peeked in. It was nothing special.
I pass by this door every day on my way to work. I still don't like it, but now I try to think of it as "restaurant training wheels". Maybe in time, it won't be necessary.