Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Ruth makes an appearance!

Khartoum is different from Cairo in almost every way... except for its huge stock of pseudo-brands and signs in Engrish (that is, mangled English). I've seen Abercrombie & Kent, Panashiba, and today, Chicken Hut, not to mention that favorite of tinkerers and hobbyists everywhere: Sado-Mastic (sic) Emulsion Paint.
Sign-reading gets especially fun when English words or phrases are transliterated into the Arabic alphabet (which I am gaining a stumbling literacy in). I still can't sound out the word on 7-UP bottles, but the script is stylized so that the last letter (reading right to left, of course) looks like the numeral 7. The word Pepsi, however, consists of very basic symbols, and I am happy to mutter, "Beebsee," whenever it makes an appearance (there's no P sound in Arabic), and "Shweebs," for Schweppes.
Brand names in English are definitely considered chic. Besides the T-shirts that leave you wondering if their owner understands what they say, all kinds of products are sold with non-Arabic names. That which disturbs me most is Fair & Lovely skin-lightening cream, flogged with great intensity on our UAE cable channel. In the commercial, a miserable young woman with a tan any westerner would die for is unable to land a television announcing job until she realizes that a quick fix with Fair & Lovely cream will make everything all right. Sure enough, in 6 regular applications, it does! What does this mean for the black-African members of Sudanese society? I don't know.
Next time: white egg yolks and geckos!


Nathan said...

Sadly, I'm afraid that "Fair and Lovely" cream is part of our cultural heritage. I had some dear friends in medical school who were of Indian descent. Anitra was a stunningly beautiful woman, with high cheekbones, and perfect skin. She could have been a model. One day a group of us were talking (Indians, Pakistanis, and those of European descent). Anitra and Priya both referred in passing to how they were so brown that when they were dating, they felt that they couldn't compete with fair skinned women. It was shocking to several of us, because they both were so stunningly beautiful. We talked about it for sometime. In India (largely because of our cultural imperialism), beauty is mainly thought to be related to how fair your skin is. Kind of creepy, eh?

CuracaoChick said...

Hey girl. I'm very flattered to be linked on your blog, and I'm looking forward to reading and commenting as much as you have been on my livejournal.
Lots of love to your family,

Kizzie said...

I know, I hate this commercial.they did get their point across though, the lighter the better.