Last Updated: Mon Sep 05, 2011 19:01 pm (KSA) 16:01 pm (GMT)

Sarah Sfeir: Questions, anyone? Just don't ask the obvious

While thinking about a subject for today’s blog, a subject that would be as far as possible from politics (we all need a break once in a while) and economy (too depressing to tackle), I realized something: I shall talk today about the OBVIOUS. If you don’t understand what I mean, keep on reading please.

I believe everyone has the right to knowledge. Everyone is free to ask any question he/she’d like. However, sometimes, people ask you one of those questions to which the answer is way too obvious and you wonder for a second if you’ve heard it right.

For instance, I was sitting the other day in the waiting room at my dentist’s clinic, checking my watch every two minutes, eager to see those endless minutes end to go back home (not that I’m afraid, no! not at all), when a friend of mine entered the room and upon spotting me hit me with one of those questions: "What are you doing here?" I still don’t know why she frowned when I answered “Well I’m here to have my hair cut!” Some people just don’t understand irony.

Another time, another friend, same situation. I’m home, watching the news on TV, when the landline rings and my mother answers before handing me the phone, whispering "it’s for you". Right after the usual salutations, my friend hit me with: "Where are you?". Excuse me! But you called me home and I answered, where am I supposed to be? What do you expect me to say: “I’m in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and brought my landline with me?”

In Lebanon, when people ask you for the time, they say: “What time is it “now”?” as if you were going to tell them what time it was in the morning or maybe last evening!

Another popular expression in my country is when someone enters a room and sees you there. Their first question is: “You are here?” I wonder what their reaction would be if I answered: “No, I’m the ghost of Christmas past!” or even: “No, I’m not. I’m at the beach but you’re hallucinating!”

Once again, another situation that I have faced lately and found annoying, is when my grandfather passed away. I was returning home when I met a friend that I haven’t seen for so long. He asked me: “Why are you wearing black?” I answered: “I was at my grandpa’s funerals.” He continued: “Oh, is he dead?”. Well I hope he is, otherwise he won’t be happy being locked in a box, 5 feet under.

Our neighbor Rima, is a caring, loving old woman who has lost her sight several years ago. Every morning she comes at our house accompanied by her nurse to have a cup of coffee and my mom insists to pound her between each and every sentence with: “Do you see what I mean?” and Rima always answers: “Yes, I see!”

I can still remember the look of my sister-in-law and how offended she felt when people would ask her when she was 7-month pregnant: “Oh! Are you pregnant?” and how she thought about answering: “No, I just swallowed a baby elephant!”

Situations like these happen every day, and whether we like it or not, it is always wise to grit our teeth and be pleasant, otherwise we’d lose all our acquaintances and friends.

Questions, anyone?

(Sarah Sfeir, who holds an MBA from USEK University in Lebanon, is a Ph.D. candidate in translation. She can be reached at:

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