Omar Shehata

Advice from my photographer

From "Scenes from Egypt"

The main thing I needed to do in Egypt was renew my passport, which I hadn't been able to do for the last 3 years because of the military conscription I was evading.

So, I needed some new passport photos.

I walked over to a little boutique studio down the street. It occurred to me that I've been going to this same little office across from the tram station throughout my entire life. And it was still the same guy!

This man had taken pictures of me with a little teddy bear when I was 7 years old. He took the picture for my first passport at 12. He took the picture for my second passport at 16. And he took the picture for my US student visa application when I left home for the first time, at 19.

I am 28 now. I figured I should maybe talk to him.

And so we start chatting

I tell him I'm living in the US now. And no more than 30 seconds later, he's giving me life advice on how to juggle getting my sexual needs fulfilled with an American woman, without disappointing my religious parents who just want to see me marry a good, Muslim girl.

His solution was this: ask your mom for a nice woman from a good family. Talk to her, make sure she's open minded, & get married. Then, you can go do whatever you want with the foreign woman. But don't do in secret, of course. Both women should be aware. You have a right to up to 4 women, after all. As long as you're making them both happy. The Egyptian woman will probably be happy with this arrangement because she (1) gets the money, since you make a lot of money in US dollars, or (2) she'll get to travel, if she wants. But she might just be happy staying in Egypt while you pay for stuff.

But, of course, the most important thing is to make your parents happy. So you gotta make them proud. They want to see you marry someone from their tribe, y'know? But you only get one life, so you should enjoy yourself too.

Oh, and that'll be $3. Say hi your dad for me.

Read more Scenes from Egypt.