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The Syrian lodger

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 12, 2016

In the Guardian, an English woman named Helen takes in a Syrian refugee as a lodger and shares her story:

What does he make of my bourgeois life? He does not appreciate the middle-class obsession with sanded floorboards, when we could all afford wall-to-wall carpets. He cannot believe I own a cook book holder. Cook books themselves he finds hilarious; the women in Yasser’s life have always cooked for him (he is an excellent washer-upper) and his early forays into gastronomy appalled and amused me in equal measure. One morning he asked me how to turn on the oven. I showed him, asking what he wanted to warm up. “Safari eggs,” he said. No amount of miming or Google Translate could make me understand. It was something he’d bought the previous night, he said, rummaging through the bin for the packaging of what turned out to be “savoury eggs” — scotch eggs. “Two things you need to know about these eggs, Yasser,” I said. “One, we eat them cold. Two, they contain pork and you don’t eat pork.”

And her lodger, Yasser, shares his side:

Soon after I moved in, Helen threw a Halloween party — my first. She dressed up in a fake white beard, with black rings round her eyes. “I’m Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour party,” she said. “Then I should be David Cameron,” I replied. I didn’t really mean it, but Helen liked the idea. I borrowed a suit and shaved my beard. She taught me some catchphrases about hard-working families, low tax something and housing benefits. The idea of a Syrian refugee dressed up as David Cameron was very amusing for other people. People drank so much at the party. I couldn’t believe the recycling bin the next day!

I had a good time and things began to be less awkward. Every one of Helen’s friends offered to help me if need be. Some of them offered to help me with my English. You hear things about British people; that although they might smile at you, they never show their true feelings. This hasn’t been true for me. Although I come from a completely different culture, I found something very familiar. People are loving, thoughtful and compassionate, both here in Britain and back in Syria.

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