The Making of Shaymaa
Shaymaa in TBD parts
Born and raised in the Nubian Village of Gharb Seheyl in Upper Egypt (Southern Egypt), Shaymaa was one of two siblings with an older brother, Ahmed. Their Egyptian father who had married a Nubian, Coptic Christian woman named them. Such 'mixed' marriages are very rare between these two substantially different cultures. For example, Nubians are 'village-centric' in that even marriage between villages is rare where as marrying cousins is preferred. However for Muslim women, the Quran does not permit them to marry outside of Islam. As in the case of Shaymaa's parents, Muslim men are permitted to marry women in Abraham-based religions.
To be best aligned with the village, Shaymaa was raised as a Coptic Christian. As such, the relatively relaxed restrictions of being a female Christian, versus that of a female Muslim, were a significant influence in the development of Shaymaa's character. Indeed, Shaymaa displayed an extraordinary amount of independence beginning in her early years. True to her mother's Nubian heritage, her complexion is of a radiant mahogany sheen. With her height of 6 ft., her presence is exceptional even among the beauty of Nubian women.
With her father being a rug merchant in Aswan across the Nile, she became directly involved in his business at the age of 14. As such, she quickly learned English as a third language to Nobiin and Arabic. Within a year she had been offered several positions in shops in the city. One particular offer really interested her, and with her father's blessings, she became a manager of a small fleet of the classic feluccas for rent on the Nile. It was a very profitable venture for the owner all year log. As such, within another year, she approached her father with a basic business plan to start her own felucca rental business. Her father made the purchase of 2 boats,and Shaymaa opened for business with herself and a Nubian friend, Lisib, as the handlers of the boats. By age 17, she was able to pay back the capital her father had invested as well as get a loan for 2 more feluccas.
By the age of 19, her business was flourishing, as was the male interest in her. She dated several young men, both Christian and Muslim. However, she was too independent and confident for the misogyny of Muslim males, and she was definitely against the Nubian custom of marrying cousins. While some Nubian women were working outside of the home, Shaymaa was the only woman in her village to own her business.
It was one particular evening, as she and Lisib were cleaning and securing the boats for the day, that she was approached by a rather handsome male, clearly English. With his faded blue jeans, folded cuffs stiff white shirt, and a light lavender cashmere sweater draped over his shoulders, he called out to her from the dock. "Miss, I would like to speak to the manager of these feluccas regarding a possible rental in the next several days." Shaymaa turned towards him and responded smartly: "I am the owner of these boats. What is your interest Sir?" Stunned by her beauty as she had turned to face him, he paused: "My consulting firm is in Aswan for the week, and I would like to set up a sailing day on the Nile for my team. We will require all 4 boats." Shaymaa cocked her head slightly and with a friendly smile asked: "Are any of your people qualified in handling sailing vessels in general, and Feluccas specifically. And, are any familiar with characteristics of the Nile here in Aswan?" The Englishman smiled and haughtily responded: "I am an owner of a 40 ft sloop, and I can readily handle the single sale of this craft. However, as to the Nile, I have no knowledge of the river's particulars. We would clearly require at least one pilot." Shaymaa responded, "One moment Sir, and I will be there to discuss the details. She then turned to Lisib and instructed him to finish the tasks for the evening. She then made her way to the dock where the Englishman was standing. The Englishman was a bit shorter than her, and she purposely paused to look him up and down. As he held out his hand to shake hers, he said: "My name is Dr. Peter Martin." She did not offer her hand. "My name is Shaymaa. First time in Egypt Mr. Peter?" "Yes, why do you say that Ms. Shaymaa." "Mr. Peter, in this country with a majority of Muslims, a man never offers his hand to a woman first." With that said, she held out her hand, and they shook. "What in particular are your requirements as to date, time, and area of the Nile for my 4 feluccas? Also, other than a pilot, how many handlers do you require?" "Well! Shaymaa, of my party of 12, I am the only one qualified to handle the 'sheets'.", testing her knowledge of sailboat terminology, "Therefore, I see the need for 3 handlers, of which one is the pilot. Can you provide all 4 boats this Thursday in the afternoon, for 4 hours explore the West side of the Nile around the islands near the Nubian villages that I have heard so much about?" Expecting that he did not know, or even care, to barter, Shaymaa was quick to offer the 'Special Package' that she made up on the spot. "Mr. Peter, for your party of 12, I have an excellent package that is 6 hours on the Nile including a 1 hour stop in my Nubian Village for a light dinner in their style. We are Coptic Christians, and fine Egyptian wine is included with the meal." He paused: "Really?, FINE Egyptian wine?" "Yes, Mr. Peter, Egyptians produce very fine wines. Our vines are older that that of Europe,and we produce more wine each year than England. You will not be disappointed in the meal or the wine. Additionally, here is a special patio in the village were your people will be served that overlooks the Nile. Very lovely!. If we start the trip at 4, you will enjoy a phenomenal sunset view as you return to Aswan by 10." Peter hesitated as he thought about the offer. "What is the total price for this package, Ms. Shaymaa?" She did a quick summation of what she would normally charge, and then doubled the amount. "Mr. Peter, for your group of 12, 3 handlers, 4 feluccas, and a light dinner with wine, the price is 260 English Pounds or 5,200 Egyptian pounds (then-current conversion rate). If you agree, then I require a 50% non-refundable deposit in notes. I do not accept checks or credit cards." Peter was impressed with Shaymaa's presentation and firm business manners. The price seemed reasonable to him for such a large party. "Shaymaa, I agree to your price if Thursday is available." "It is Mr. Peter" at which point he pulled out his wallet and handed Shaymaa 130 English pounds. Shaymaa accepted the money and said she would be back in a moment with a receipt. With a gentle smile he said, "Shaymaa, I do not require a receipt from you, Habibi." She blushed given his forwardness in using the affectionate Arabic term for 'my dear'. "Mr. Peter, I look to seeing your party her at 4 PM on Thursday. Permit me to put my cell number on your cell phone should you need to contact me before that." Once she had done so, she handed the cell phone back to him. "Good evening Mr. Peter." "'Shkran lak" (thank you) Ms. Shaymaa, I may do that." She turned and went back to her boats thinking 'Is this guy playing with me with the Arabic terms? His pronunciation was perfect. Apparently, he thinks I am a Muslim.'
That evening during dinner she informed her parents about the great contract she had closed that afternoon, including a 50% deposit. Her father smiled broadly. After dinner she went to her room to do an Internet search on Peter Martin. This cocky Englishmen intrigued her, both physically and intellectually. What she found was that this Englishmen had an international management consulting firm based in London. Furthermore, he was apparently single and 28 years old. "Hmmmmm" she thought to herself. Before going to bed, she had thought of several ways to further engage with this fellow in addition to the scheduled trip.
She spent the early part of Wednesday setting up the light dinner for the following night. Two women in the village were engaged to do the cooking and manage the service. Additionally, her brother took responsibility for setting up the necessary furnishings on the deck where the dinner would be served. In the afternoon, she went to Aswan where the feluccas were docked. She and Lisib discussed the route to be taken Thursday on the Nile, as well as to ensure that each boat would have bottled water, ice, cups, and life jackets. All was set by 4PM, and she left to go into Aswan to relax at her favorite cafe to meet with her friends. On her way there, her phone rang. She didn't recognize the '44'-country code. She answered the call. "Ms.Shaymaa, this is Peter." Shaymaa inhaled deeply expecting there was a problem for tomorrow. "Yes?
Mr. Peter. Arrrreeee weeeee still good for tomorrow?" "Yes of course. By the way, I would prefer if you call me just 'Peter", that is if I can use just 'Shaymaa'." "Yes!, of course Peter." "Super! Shaymaa." He paused, " I have called because I would like to have dinner with you this evening if you are acceptable to my offer and available." Shaymaa paused. This was unbelievable to her and certainly not expected. "Well Peter, I am actually in Aswan now with some friends ... and I would like to join you for dinner." "Well then, is 6 ok for you at the 1902 restaurant near your boats?" "Yes! Peter I know it well. It is across from my father's rug shop. So then Peter I will see you at 6." "I am looking forward to this Shaymaa."
Shaymaa practically skipped on her way to the cafe to see her friends. When she saw them at the table, she put her hands in the air and swayed her way in. Her friends were startled at her antics. "What's up with you Shaymaa." said Jamila. "Well, my dear friends I am having dinner at 1902 in 90 minutes with this most handsome Englishman." Again Jamila, "Fantastic! But are you not a dressed a bit too casual for that restaurant?" "I just got the invitation 30 minutes ago when I was at the dock. I have. no choice at this point." The 3 friends pressed her to know about the Englishman and how this dinner came about. Shaymaa was brief in describing Peter but more forthcoming on describing the thoughts she had the previous night regarding him. She was too excited already to have her normal Italian expresso. She didn't need any caffiene at this point. She ordered a Karkade, which is the tradiional tea of the Nubian culture made from the petals of hisbiscus flowers. By the time it was necessary for her to go to the restaurant, she had calmed down substantially. The Karkade had worked its magic.
II. The Contract
Shaymaa was on time at the restaurant. The Maître D sighed to himself as he watched her walk in given her casual, but smart attire. The restaurant has a strict dress code for men, but not for women. He politely, but firmly asked. "What can I do for you Madam?" Speaking in English, she said "I am here as a guest of Dr. Martin." "Yes Madame. Dr. Martin has not yet arrived." Recognizing her Nubian accent and her 'appearance' of being at least 21, he continued, "I can sit you at your table if you wish?" He would have had her wait in the restaurant's entrance if he thought she was either a Muslim (therefore not proper to be within the restaurant by herself) or not 21. He led her to the table and pulled out her chair. "Madam, your waiter will be here shortly." He waived at the waiter to come. The young waiter approached her and asked what she would like to have to drink, believing that the Maître D had provided the OK by seating her. She decided to play along as to her being seated. With her very limited social French, she said. "Bonne soirée, Monsieur. Un vere de vin blanc, Egyptian, s'il vous plaît" "Yes of course Madam." The waiter returned within minutes with her glass of wine. "Merci Beaucoup, Monsieur."
Shaymaa was well into her wine when Peter arrived. He was properly dressed with khakis and a dark blue blazer. "Good evening, Shaymaa. I deeply apologize for my late arrival." Given her Nubian upbringing, she started to rise from her chair, and he placed his hand on her shoulder to have her remain seated. "Shaymaa, apparently you are not a Muslim as I thought, otherwise you would not be at this table by yourself ... and with a glass of wine." "No Peter, as I mentioned briefly yesterday, I have been raised in my Mother's Coptic Christian faith, as well as that of the Nubian village where I live ... where your team will visit tomorrow." "I am very glad you accepted my late invitation for dinner tonight." "My pleasure. Is there some point you wish to discuss regarding the trip tomorrow?" "No Shaymaa. I had a prolonged meeting with my team to tell them about tomorrow. They are very excited. As to my inviting you to dinner, I have something particular in mind that may be of interest to. you. To be candid here, as Englishmen tend to be, I am quite impressed with your evident business acuity. I am not use to that with women of your age in my country, and especially in my profession. So, I wish to know more about you for a specific reason I will describe over dinner." Shaymaa interrupted him. "Please define 'acuity' Peter." as she started to think about what might be coming in conversation. "Sorry. 'Acuity' is one of those words we use in management consulting. It sounds more captivating to our clients compared to 'intelligence' or 'brilliance' or 'intuition'." Shaymaa smiled. The waiter returned at this point and asked about cocktails or wine. Peter asked Shaymaa if she would like another glass of wine or something else. She pointed to her near-empty wine glass. He then turned to the waiter, I would love a gin and tonic using the 'kill me quickly' Nubian gin." Shaymaa interrupted, "It is known to Nubians as 'chang'aa' which translates as you said. It is quite strong, hence its name." The waiter handed a French menu to Shaymaa and then an English menu to Peter. The waiter returned to the bar. Peter noticed her French menu and said, "Well, that was a silly error on his part. I wonder why he would do that?" Shaymaa simply shrugged. When the waiter returned with the drinks, Peter said strongly, "Madam would like an English menu as well, PLEASE! The waiter had a confused expression as he looked directly at Shaymaa. "Yes Sir, I will be right back with an English menu for Madam."
Peter started his inquiry. "Shaymaa, please tell me about your life in your village and Aswan. I would like to hear about your educational background and how you started your business as well." She started to talk about her childhood and working in her father's store but stopped when the waiter handed her an English menu. "Merci Beaucoup, Monsieur", she said with a wink. Peter then asked the waiter to come back in 10 minutes to take their order. "Please continue Shaymaa. Also, may I ask your age.?" "Well Peter, first of all, I am 24", thinking that her actual age of 19 may be an issue for whatever he had in mind. "When I was nearly 16, I started the felucca rental business. I had already spent a year managing another rental business. It did very well all year long given our weather, and I decided to try it myself. Within 2 years I was able pay back my father for the initial 2 boats and then go to the bank for a loan to buy 2 more - as you have seen." "That is fantastic Shaymaa. As to education, what is your background." This was not something she would lie about because it would be simple for her to be found out. "I graduated from the Nubian Village Academy and have not advanced any further. My business requires so much of my time, and further education seemed useless during that time. However, I'm thinking of hiring a manager, perhaps my brother Ahmed, to free me to attend Aswan University". This was good news for what Peter was thinking about. "What major will you be seeking?" "It will most likely be Merchandizing, but perhaps Finance." "I like that Shaymaa. From what I can already tell, you should be a natural for either. Let's order first, and then I may have an idea for you to consider. So, what do you suggest for dinner?" "Since you will have traditional Nubian cuisine tomorrow, I suggest a dish for which 1902 is well known. As you may be know, Pigeon is a popular dish in this country. Typically it is stuffed with a rice mixture. However, there is very little meat on the pigeons we have here. So, I suggest we order a double portion of the pigeon ravioli with fig/raisin sauce" Peter coughed slightly and then motioned to the waiter to come to the table. Their order was placed along with a bottle of the vin blanc. Indeed the chang'aa was strong, and Peter wanted to be clear in their discussion during dinner.
"My team's purpose in Aswan is to identify and support the product and marketing efforts by several firms that are in the process of establishing their business in the international market. My team consists of experts in critical areas such as international marketing, financial analysis, tariffs, etc. However, my team is missing one critical component. We don't have an onsite individual to handle the day-by-day interactions with our clients here." As he was talking, she took notice of his consistent use of the phrase 'My team'. She liked this greatly as to his apparent management style of being inclusive ... instead of just saying 'I'. She found herself staring at his lips as he talked. She was thinking, 'He is such a handsome man'. As such, her mind was wandering a bit when he said: "Shaymaa, I am interested in you being our onsite liason with our customers here." He stopped there and waited for Shaymaa to respond, She didn't respond immediately since her mind was still on this fellow. Until meeting Peter, she had never felt any particular interest in the males with which she interacted professionaly or socially. She blinked and looked directly at him. "What did you just say?" "I said that I would like you to be part of the team as the onsite liasion." She paused and simply said "Wow". He continued, "Considering what you have already told me, you would be available once you found a manager for your boats." He paused for a moment while that sank it. "AND, I will pay your tuition at the university for you to obtain your degree." "WOW!' as she sat back in her chair taking the glass of wine. She then sat up straight and close to the table and then looked directly into his eyes. "Why are you doing this Peter? You barely know me." "Shaymaa, I need a local here as our liaison, and I fully trust my perception of you. You ARE extraordinary, Habibi." Once again, he had used the affectionate term for 'my dear'. No Muslim male would have said that so early in this developing relationship. That was a red flag for her.
At this point, the waiter returned with both the bottle of wine and two pearl colored plates and silver utensils. He placed the plates and utensils and then asked Peter if he wished to taste the wine. Peter staring directly at Shaymaa said "Madam will do the tasting." Shaymaa was glad to have this moment to reflect on what Peter said as she lifted the glass of wine and tasted it. She looked at the waiter and said with another wink "Très Bonne, Monsieur". The waiter had caught on to her game at this point and responded "Merci Beaucoup Madam." With her acceptance, he poured two glasses. With the waiter gone, she made a quick analysis of what Peter had said. "Peter, I am very interested in your idea. But obviously I will need training on what your consulting firm does and its desires with the customers here in Aswan." Peter reached across the table with his two palms up to welcome hers. "Shaymaa, if you are willing to accept my hands in this situation, even given the customs of Muslim women, which you are not, then you are exactly the person my team needs." Shaymaa held back her hands, but then gave in to placing her hands in his. "Lovely Shaymaa, we have a starting point for me to go into detail with you." "Yes Peter, this is just a starting point." Peter raised his glass of wine and proposed a toast. Shaymaa responded in kind. "To your new adventures with our firm. I see great things for you Habibi." Once again with the inappropriate use of the Arabic for 'my dear'. Shaymaa was not comfortable with his saying that, at least not yet. But then again she thought to herself 'such a handsome man and a gentleman no less. But what does he have in mind, I wonder, as to the future?'
The waiter returned with the two servings of pigeon ravioli with sides of sautéed vegetable as well as a basket of bread. Shaymaa sparked up and said, "Peter! this bread is from my village. It is called Shamsi. The dough is raised and baked in the sunlight, and the particular marking on the top is that of my village. Your team will have it again tomorrow during the light dinner of the trip." "Shaymaa, there is so much that we need to learn about the other. I am really charmed by the people here in Aswan .... and if you represent the Nubians, then even more so." As they started to enjoy their dinner, Shaymaa noticed his unique use of the fork and knife by cutting with the knife in the right hand and then using the fork in the left hand to bring the bite to the mouth. It was a silly point granted, but she found this to be inefficient compared to simply cutting the ravioli with the fork in the right hand and then bringing it to the mouth. This was just another example of her analytical mind; a mind that is constantly analyzing otherwise meaningless stuff to look for balance. From her early teens she had thought of herself as an architect, a designer of whatever. For now, she was very charmed by this Englishman who stated a sincere interest in her business skills. She thought to herself, 'Could his offer be a good stepping stone for me?' Romance was just starting to enter her mind. This Englishman was unlike any other male she had interacted with .... and he seemed to be interested her in several ways. Suddenly, she shook her head slightly, unconsciously and thought to herself 'enough of that for now.' "Peter, how do we progress with your offer as it is?" Peter looked up from his meal and said "Shaymaa, first we finish this fantastic meal to which you introduced me, and then we will meet again on Friday for me to offer you specifics. Is that okay with you? I want to make an offer that you will not be able to refuse." Shaymaa was now back on her game, "Yes Peter. That is acceptable to me." Peter smiled, "Super!."
The waiter observed that they were through with their dinner and came to pick up the plates. "Monsieur and Madam, would you like to see the desert menu, or have an after dinner drink?" At this point, Shaymaa wanted out of this discussion. There had been so much, so soon that evening. She started, "Peter, I still have arrangements to be made at the village for your team's visit tomorrow. I need to leave shortly once I call my brother to pick me up," Peter nodded and indicated to the waiter to bring the tab by crossing his hands in an 'X'. Shaymaa noticed this Egyptian gesture and dialed her brother. "Ahmed will be here in 10 minutes. I thank you for such a lovely meeting ... and your offer. We will meet tomorrow at the dock at 4. With that said, she stood and walked away not looking back. However, Peter watched her intensely given the slacks that hugged her body so well. He was smitten.
III. The Sailing
During the morning of the outing, Peter did some research on the Nubian culture. While he learned several Arabic phrases prior to coming to Egypt, several of which he had used (one inappropriately), he didn't realize that Aswan was a major city for the Nubians. He learned that The Nubian culture precedes that of the Egyptians and is known for the 'Black Pharohs' that originally ruled the area of what is now Upper Egypt (Southern Egypt) and Northern Sudan. Having been smitten by Shaymaa, he read about the some basic practices of Nubians as to marriage and Coptic Christianity. He was pleased to read that Nubian women are much more independent and not subject to the same type of male chauvinism as in the Islam world. His appreciation of Shaymaa increased, and he was determined to make an offer to her on Friday for joining his firm. But first he needed to focus on the outing and getting the team together for a 4:00 arrival at the dock.
As for Shaymaa, she had stayed up late the night before imagining what Peter had in mind as to her involvement in his consultancy. He said that she would be the 'onsite liaison'. For her, this suggested that she would be in charge of 'handling" the clients as to the team's activities there, and that she would be on her own most of the time. She liked that possibility given her having been fully in charge of all of her activities since she was 16. Even her father knew to stay out of her business, not that he wanted to. She dived deeper into the website of Peter's firm, London Sage. She read about the services and some of personnel bios. She paid particular attention to the bio of Sarah Collins, a red hair raving beauty, who was the Vice President, Customer Service. "Hmmmmmmm" she thought with a weird sense of jealousy.
She didn't get up until late morning, and was quickly showered and dressed in her sailing attire of tight jeans a loose sweater off her shoulders. Before she left for the boats she checked with Ahmed as to the furnishing for the dinner and with the two women that were handling the food and fine. She instructed them to have a full case of wine available. She paid them in advance for the food and wine that would be required. On her scooter, she was at the docks in 30 minutes. Lisib was already there as well as Bennu, who would be the other two handlers along with her and Peter. She reviewed with them the route that would be taken and noted that either she or Lisib would act as pilots depending upon which boat advanced the furthest in the wind. Bennu was to sail near Peter's boat should he fall behind. For this outing, she had issued each of them with a walkie talkie in the event of separation, especially given the brisk wind that was predicted. By 3, all 4 boats were properly supplied with the water, ice, and life jackets as an option for those individuals that may desire one.
At 4, the party of 12 arrived, and Peter assigned 3 each to the boats. Shaymaa immediately noticed that Sarah was practically hanging onto Peter's shoulders, and she was purposely assigned (in Shaymaa's opinion) to be in his boat with one other. All went to their assigned felucca and were introduced by their handler to the basics of being onboard. Peter as a handler checked out the rigging of his felucca and had no questions for Shaymaa. The wind had picked somewhat by that time, and all the boats were quick off the dock in a SW direction towards a group of islands on the West side of the Nile. Shaymaa had the fastest of the feluccas given the largest sail, and Peter the slowest. Once into the river proper, she looked back to check on Peter's handling. He was doing fairly well, but he did not have the sail trimmed properly. She thought to herself. 'If he would pay more attention to his trim instead of Sarah, he would not be so far behind already.' During the trip, Shaymaa and the other two handlers were providing information to the passengers as to the Nile as well as the Nubile village where they would be having their dinner in several hours. Very subtlety, Shaymaa made some inquiries as to the individuals in the group, slipping in a few questions regarding Sarah. Their was no mention by her 3 passengers of any relationship between Peter and Sarah.
As planned, Shaymaa led the feluccas into narrow passages between several islands. Given the direction of the wind, it meant that there would be the necessity for several rapid tacks to emerge back into the Nile proper. On each tact she would look back at Peter's efforts. He was handling his boat properly by this point. It was near 7 pm when Shaymaa began heading toward the Nubian village. It would take a half hour or so to navigate the passages and then tie up at the docks below the village. All feluccas where relatively close to each other as they approached the village. Once all boats were secure, they gathered at the beach before ascending to the deck for their meal. Peter asked if it was safe to swim there. Shaymaa responded "Actually, this is one of the very few beaches on the Nile where it relatively safe to swim for our people. Although there are crocodiles in the Nile further North, they are not here. But, for you foreigners, it is not safe to swim giving the particular bacteria to which your bodies are not immune." As a group, they headed up the slight hill into the village. Once there, Shaymaa explained that they were to gather in a circle sitting on the rugs that were common to this particular village. They would be served a light dinner of traditional Nubian cuisine served by her two aunts Neilah and Heba. Shaymaa continued saying that there would be endless amounts of wine, bottled water, and Karkade (Nubian tea). She also noted and she and her two handlers would be sitting elsewhere during this meal. Before departing Shaymaa noticed that Sarah had seated herself next to Peter. At that point Heba came out from where the food was being prepared and welcomed the group. Peter was quick to applaud them out of appreciation, and the others followed. Heba explained that this evening that the group would eat 'village style' by sharing all servings of the 'hand foods.' To start, each guest was given a hibiscus-scented steamed towel to clean their hands and freshen their face. It was noted by Heba where the restrooms were and proceeded to provide several baskets of their well-noted bread, Shamsi. Shortly latter, Neilah distributed 4 servings of Kofta (grilled minced meat) with an okra/chili sauce while Heba provide each individual with a plate, utensils, and moist hand towels. Ahmed was there as well to provide the drinks as described by Shaymaa. As the meal progressed several other dishes of steamed vegetables and various kabobs were served, including chicken, Nile perch, and lamb. With each kabob there were saucers of various herb dips. Lastly, 4 plates of small cakes and cookies were provided to conclude the food service. At that point, Ahmed went to each individual to offer a small glass of Port, although not part of Nubian cuisine. Shaymaa had read of the Englishs' Port consumption in a Charles Dickens novel and thought this would be appreciated. It was at that point, Shaymaa returned with her two handlers and said that the feluccas were ready for their return to Aswan. Peter stood and offered a toast to Heba, Neilah, and Ahmed to praise the meal they were served. All stood to join in with the toast. At the completion of the toast, all headed to the beach.
Once all were aboard their feluccas and ready to depart, Shaymaa said that she expected an extraordinary sunset before they reached Aswan at approximately 10. The wind was now behind them and the sails were let out to be perpendicular to the boat. This 'running before the wind' required essentially no effort by the handlers other than to ensure that they didn't accidentally jibe with the sail swinging to the other side ... and therefore providing a potentially dangerious motion to the passengers.
The conversations on board the feluccas were light for the return trip. The serenity of the evening sky, as well as the food and wine had mellowed nearly everyone. Only the handlers, including Peter, maintained a high level of involvement with the handling of their felucca. Shaymaa noticed that even Sarah had backed off as to her attention to Peter.
Once back to the Aswan docks, the passengers remained seated as the handlers secured the feluccas. They each thanked Shaymaa and their particular handler for the trip including a tip. As the group returned to their hotel, Peter stayed back to talk with Shaymaa. "Shaymaa, that was extraordinary ... as I find you Habibi." pause "Can you meet with me, say 3 tomorrow at 1902 to discuss the offer I would like to make to you?" "Yes of course Peter. I look forward to our conversation." With that she held out her hand. Peter took it and squeezed it gently. "Good night Shaymaa - sweet dreams." He turned and walked briefly to catch up with his team. This time Shaymaa watched him walk away in those faded jeans.
Shaymaa stayed at the docks until the feluccas were fully secured and cleaned by her and her 2 employees. She got on her scooter and was home in 20 minutes given the lack of traffic. She was quite exhausted and said good night to her parents before going to her room. She knew that they were curious as to her evening, but she didn't want to discuss anything at that point. Her mind was spinning regarding Peter and the offer tomorrow. Before going to her bed, she checked out Sarah's profile once more. 'Goodness, she is gorgerous.'
IV. The Offer
Shaymaa awoke early Thursday morning even though she was late going to sleep the night before. For the first time in her memory, she was actually anxious about something, and it was the meeting with Peter. This was due for several reasons. First, there was this offer that would be forthcoming for her to be an 'employee' forsaking her independence. Next there was her increasing interest in this Englishman as a male of interest. Lastly, there was this presence of Sarah that was clearly cooing up to Peter. Peter was her first experience with a possible romance, and already there some apparent competition with which to contend. In dressing for the meeting, linen and satin were the clothing of choice. The tan linen slacks she chose hugged her tightly around the waist but were loose along the legs. She then chose her favorite lavender satin blouse that was also quite loose around her body and somewhat revealing as to her chest. Shaymaa was never big on cosmetics and rightfully so given the natural mahogany glow of her skin. Once dressed, she headed down to the kitchen. Her father had already left for his shop in Aswan, but Ahmed was there finishing up his breakfast. Upon seeing her, his first comment was quite revealing. "What are you up to this day Shaymaa. You look absolutely lovely." Being several years older than his sister, he had always been quite protective of her even though that had never been necessary. "Thank you Brother, I have a meeting with Peter this afternoon. He wishes to talk with me about joining his team as the Aswan liaison for this company." "Sis, are you interested in this possibility?" " Actually, I am Ahmed. He also has said that he will pay for my way though the University here to obtain the proper credentials while I work for his consultancy." "But what about your rental company?" "My Brother, I have given some thought to that, and I think I have an interesting possibility. We will talk about that should I accept his offer." She then turned to face him and winked, "He is quite handsome. Would you agree?" "So now I understand why you are dressed so. Sis. I wish you the best this afternoon," and he left. Shaymaa was smiling to herself as she looked in the mirror and brushed her long hair back on the left side. She wasn't hungry given her anxiousness regarding the forthcoming afternoon. She made herself a Italian roast cappacuino and went back to her room to do more research on London Sage.
It was noon when she called Jamila and asked her to meet at their favorite cafe in Aswan at 1. Jamila started with a number of questions about the day before with this Peter guy. "All will be answered when we meet at 1, Habibi." She hung up and took her scooter into Aswan. Although she wasn't to meet with Peter until 3, she also wanted to meet with her Dad at his store to discuss what had occurred the day before. She valued his input, but only WHEN she asked for it. She knew that she was beyond her experience with this possible job offer. Her primary interest was to have his thoughts about her being an employee in a company. But first she would meet with Jamila to provide her the latest.
Arriving at the cafe, she saw Jamila at a table in the corner of the patio. This was THE table where the secrets between friends could be discussed openly without the eavesdropping by other patrons, especially the young men that frequented this particular cafe. Before she could even sit down, Jamila was firing questions one after another barely waiting for Shaymaa to complete her answers. This was typical Jamila wanting to live vicariously through Shaymaa's adventures. But for Shaymaa, it was different this time because she talked more seriously about what she was experiencing with the Englishman. She didn't make statements in a girlish fashion as was normal with her crowd, but with hesitation as she searched for the right words. After 20 minutes Jamila reached across the table and gently held Shaymaa's hands. "My oh my, habibi, I think you are hooked." They looked into each other's eyes and Shaymaa nodded. Shaymaa stated she had to leave to meet with her Dad before her meeting with Peter at 3. Jamila stood first and came to Shaymaa as she stood to give her a gentle hug with a kiss on each cheek. Jamila paid the tab as Shaymaa left the cafe.
When Shaymaa arrived at her father's shop, he was busy with a customer. She noticed another potential customer looking at rugs, so she naturally stepped to assist that individual until her father was free. He noticed what his daughter was doing and gave her nod of approval. He really missed her being in the store with him as before when she was 14. Shaymaa closed the deal before her Dad and waited by the counter. "Habibi, you have not lost your touch. Thank you, but why are you here? You have that important meeting in 25 minutes." "Yes Papa, but I would like some thoughts from you as to approaching this possibility of a job." She paused. "First, this job will be as an employee, and not an owner. Second, should I negotiate what is offered?" She sat down on the tall stool befind the desk. Her father approached her and placed his hands on her shoulders. "Shaymaa, you have the character and experience to work either way. As to negotiations, I have one prime point of advice. That is, DO NOT sell yourself cheap. You should be paid comparable to at least what it would cost for him to bring someone in from England ... and you already have housing that he would have to pay otherwise. BUT, most importantly, you are a local and readily accepted by the people in those possible clients he is pursuing." "But Papa, he is also willing to pay my tuition at the University to get my business degree." "Yes, that is true. Therefore, it is proper for him to ask for a 4-6 exclusive contract with you. So you can offer that contract to him at some point if he doesn't bring it up initially. That could be the honey spot for him to agree to the amount you bargain for." "Shkran Papa", she kissed his two cheeks and turned to leave. He watched her departure expecting there would be much more to this offer than she will know at first. He returned to the desk and said a short prayer for her welfare.
She arrived at 1902 several minutes early. The same Maitre D as 2 nights before welcomed her with an enthusiastic "Bonne journée, Madam." He was impressed with her stylish fashion. "I will show you to your table on the veranda. Monsieur Martin and his associate are not here yet." 'What associate?', she thought. 'Please not Sarah.' The waiter approached her and asked her if she would like a beverage. Not doing the fake French anymore, she asked for an iced Karkade. The waiter returned with her tea and withdrew waiting for the others to join her. Within several minutes Sarah did indeed show up, but without Peter at her side. She was more formerly dressed in a linen jacket and slacks with an open collar satin blouse that was overly revealing in Shaymaa's opinion. Shaymaa stood as she approached and extended her hand. Shaymaa was impressed with her handshake but not her staunch appearance. As they both sat across from each other Sarah started with her compliments for the excursion and dinner the day before. Her English was clearly quite proper as to tone and pronunciation, but yet cordial. "My Dear Shaymaa, we didn't have a proper introduction yesterday, or time to talk, given the way the team was divided between the boats." "Yes, I regret that Sarah." "My Dear, I am joining Peter in this meeting at MY request. Peter has told me of his interest in bringing you on to the team as a Liaison for us in Aswan. I am the VP of Customer Management for London Sage, and hence, you would be reporting to me directly for your activities. Sooooo, I NEED to know more about you and your value for us here in Aswan. To be honest with you Shaymaa, I was a bit surprised by Peter's suggestion given how little we know about you so far." Shaymaa felt a shiver go up her back. She was becoming uncomfortable with Sarah for yet another reason. There was a pause, and Shaymaa decided to go on the offensive. 'Sarah, I can certainly understand your need for more information regarding me and the appropriateness of bringing me on to the team. I am certainly willing to provide what you require." Then she sat up straight in her chair and said with a gentle firmness. "This is a two-way street, Sarah, as the Americans say. I also need to be comfortable with London Sage ... and particularily with you if you are to be my boss. I am considering this possibility with the consultancy for 3 reasons. First, I have already evaluated and like Peter's management style from what I have seen ... and heard. Second, I wish to expand my boundaries as to business experience as to being a team member in addition to being the boss. Lastly, Peter mentioned paying my tuition at the University here to obtain my business degree." Sarah started to interrupt her, but Shaymaa immediately said, "And, I am willing to sign a multiple-year contract given that scholarship." Satisfied with her comments, Shaymaa picked up her drink and slowly took a sip her Karkade as she sat back in her chair. Sarah began to talk again but was interrupted by Peter's arrival. "Great!, You two ladies have already talked some." He first looked at Shaymaa and then Sarah and noticed some tension in each of their faces. Peter sat between them and motioned to the waiter to order drinks.
Sarah turned to Peter, "Shaymaa stated that her tuitition at University her would be pad for her to achieve a business degree. That's QUITE generous Peter. What an unique
incentive." Peter looked directly at Sarah, "That's correct Sarah." Shaymaa then quickly interjected, "Peter, I just told Sarah that I am willing to sign a multiple-year contract in that case." "Great again! Shaymaa. That was my idea as well." The waiter arrived, and a bottle of Egyptian white wine was ordered. Peter knew not to order the 'kill be quickly' Nubian gin, at least not at this time of day. With the waiter gone, Sarah continued with a slight defensiveness in her tone. "Peter, I told Shaymaa that I had requested to be here in that she would be reporting directly to me." Peter did not respond immediately. "Actually, I have give some additional thought to that Sarah since I first mentioned this meeting to you." Shaymaa was all ears and knew not say anything at this point. There was something going on here between Peter and Sarah that she didn't quite understand. Apparently, Sarah didn't understand as well. Sarah stiffened somewhat, "What have you been thinking Peter?" The waiter arrived with the wine and glasses, and Peter waited until he sampled the wine and all were served.
Peter started with a toast to the previous night as well as the possible employment of Shaymaa, should she accept the offer to now be presented. Looking directly at Shaymaa, away from Sarah, "Shaymaa, I wish to make an offer to you that I believe you will find difficult to refuse in that you will be able to maintain your felucca rental business business here in Aswan, at least at first. I wish to emphasize 'at first' so that you will have time to evaluate your position with London Sage as to full-time employment ... AND ... we can evaluate your value for the consultancy. So far, is that an acceptable possibility for you?" Shaymaa reached across the table to place a hand on his, "That is very acceptable to me Peter ... so far." Sarah took full notice of Shaymaa's gesture as she tightened the crossing of her long legs. Sarah interrupted the conversation. "Well Shaymaa, it seems you have an amazing opportunity being offered quite generously by Peter. Like you, I am looking forward to hearing the details that Peter has in mind." Turning towards Peter, "Peter, please go on with your thoughts regarding Shaymaa's position ... and responsibilities."
Peter noted Sarah's angled attitude and started, "Well, as I mentioned, I have come up with a striking idea based upon what I have viewed as future business in Arab-speaking countries. As I initially mentioned, I was thinking of your involvement as an on-site liaison for our customers her. As such you would be reporting directly to Sarah given her responsibility as Customer Management However, this morning I received a call from a B-School associate, Bob George, as to possible business in Saudi Arabia. Bob is looking to bring London Sage into that market under his management reporting to me. I am several months from making the investment to do so. But with you on-board, you would be able to serve as our liaison to our clients here as well as the possible ones in Saudi Arabia. In that case, you will report indirectly to two individuals, BUT, I will be managing your time allocation between the two. In organizational terms, you will be my direct staff reporting directly to me, and you will service the two markets owned by Sarah and Bob." Sarah coughed and sat directly in her chair looking at Peter. "Interesting Peter, I didn't know this was happening." Somewhat apologetically, but firmly, Peter looked directly at Sarah, "Sarah, this has only happened in the last two hours. I will fill you in further in after this meeting." Looking back at Shaymaa, "What do you think so far?" "Wow! Peter. This is amazing as she touched his hand again." Sarah mumbled, "It CERTAINLY is AMAZING Peter." as she sat back in her chair.
The waiter arrived with menus. Shaymaa was feeling quite aggressive at this point given making her points to Sarah in concert with the forthcoming offer, so she said "Peter, Sarah permit me to order for the three of us. I know the menu here." Sarah did not respond as Peter said "Excellent!" Shaymaa turned to the water and ordered a table-style service including a selection of petit sandwiches (e.g., Grazziano, Italian Beef, French Dip), selection of cheeses, and bottled water. Peter added that another bottle of the wine be brought. With the waiter departed, Peter continued. "Shaymaa, given your acceptance so far of what I have said , I will put together a formal, written offer tonight. My team has a tight schedule tomorrow before we return to London the following day. Can you meet with me here again tonight at 8." " Certainly, Peter." "I will be seated in the bar." He continued, while we wait for the food, permit me to briefly explain our business opportunities here." Sarah suddenly interjected, "Should we not have a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) signed with her first?" Peter looked sternly at Sarah, "If I thought that was necessary, I would not be making an offer. Shaymaa stands well with me on her personal integrity."
Before Peter could go any further in his talking points, the food, wine, and water arrived and were placed in the center of the table in reach by all. That was immediately followed by scented hand towels, China plates, and silver utensils with 1902 engraved in the handles. Peter continued to speak as each served themselves to the sandwiches and cheeses "Perhaps the best way to provide you an overview of our clients here, as well as the local coverage we would expect of you, is for Sarah to prepare a briefing of our top 4 possibilities." Sarah interrupted him, "Peter, REALLY!, a briefing?" she said surprisingly. "Yes! Sarah. You just need to write a paragraph or two for the four targets that the team talked about this morning. Also, please get that to me in my room by 7 so as I can include some of the material in my offer." "CERTAINLY, Peter" she said mimicking Shaymaa's earlier response. "Also, Sarah, you need not meet with Shaymaa and me at 8 if you have other plans." Sarah stood suddenly. "Well! It seems I have a lot to do in the next few hours. So, I will take my leave. It was just Super! to have a brief talk with you Shaymaa." Not waiting for a response from either of the two, she grabbed two sandwiches and a bottle of water, turned and walked directly out. Peter paused watching Sarah leave and then continued. "So, once we have finished our lunch, I will go to my room and structure an offer, subject to some changes once I have read Sarah's brief." During the remainder of the lunch, the conversation between Shaymaa and Peter was superficial. Peter didn't wish to further discuss his thoughts until after structuring the offer. Similarly, given Sarah's huffy behavior, she didn't want to say anything inappropriate to Peter. With the meal finished by both, Peter gave the crossed-hands indication to the waiter for the tab. Once paid, they both stood and Peter and Shyamaa shared a la bise for departure. Leaving 1902, Shaymaa headed directly for her father's rug store very close by. She had several hours until meeting again with Peter for the offer, and she could discuss the situation with her Papa.
As is customary with clients in rug stores in the Near East, her father was sitting at a small table with a couplte discussing several rugs and sipping steaming karkade tea. As she walked by them to the small office, she could only hear several key words that her father said with emphasis such as 'wooooolll, haaannnd tied, Perrrrrrrisssannnn'." She really admired her Papa for his salesmanship, but also primarily for his integrity in what ever he did. Integrity, arguably above all other nurtured traits, was that which would be present in all she would do, professionally and personally. It was only 20 minutes until her father joined her in the office excited to hear about her offer. She explained that a written offer would be provided when she met Peter at 8. Also, her tuition for University would be included based upon her offering a 6 year contract. Her father was impressed and gave her the hug that she always wanted from him. "You have done well Shaymaa. I am, again, so proud of your abilities and achievements. Oops! There is another customer." "Papa, I have to leave anyhow. It is approaching 8", and she departed.
Arriving 30 minutes early at 1902 for the 8:00 meeting, the same Maitre D as before nodded agreeably to her as she walked pass him directly to the bar. New to her as a 19 y/o, she felt this sense of empowerment to be a forthcoming employee of an international company and not just an owner of a felucaa rental in Aswan. She sat at the end of the long Mahoghany bar on a leather stool with a slight backing. As she cross her legs, the stool twirled slightly to bring her face to face with a gentleman that had just sat there after her. "Well! Hello Madam." "Bonne soirée Monsieur" slipped out of her mouth automatically. She really didn't mean to use French, but her sense of heightened importance, resulted in her use of French, as false and limited as it was for her. He ismiled and continued with a French phrase that she did not understand. Quickly she responded, "Pardon me Sir, but when in Aswan, I should be using Arabic or English." "How charming Madam" he responded. "I am an American. So, I suggest English, American English that is." as he gave a slight laugh thinking of himself as being charming with this striking woman next to him. He continued, "I was on my way to the bar when I saw you walk in. You are so handsomely dressed with those slacks and blouse, I must say." OK, the game was on in Shaymaa's mind. As she tilted her head slightly with a charming smile, "Sir, you say 'handsome'. Is that not a bit of a masculine aspect? As she touched his left knee ever so lightly with her left hand, "Is your 'American English' so limited as to its availability of feminine adjectives?" The gentleman sat back somewhat his chair. "I am so sorry, but I did't mean to be offensive. What I should have said might have been more descriptive as to your IMMENSE attractiveness, but possibly insulting in this country with the Islam influence. Should I start again? ... My name is Bruce, and I think you are absolutely gorgeous in your slacks and blouse. Now, slap me if you wish." He smiled and opened his arms to accept her swing. Shaymaa laughed, "Bruce, you are so charming and clever. I was only playing with you. My name is Shaymaa, and I am Nubian living here in Aswan. Thank you for your compliments, Bruce. I was happy with 'handsome'." Suddenly, Peter was at her side. He had clearly observed the interaction she was having with the guy next to her as he entered the bar. Hence, he hesitated to approach her for several minutes so as to observe how she handled herself, granted from afar. He noticed her body English as she conversed with the fellow. 'My goodness, she is a natural', he thought. 'I definitely want this amazing woman on my team." Peter now appeared with an envelope in his hand. He placed it on the bar in front of her as she turned to face him. "One moment Peter." She turned back to Bruce. "Sorry Bruce, this is my future boss, most likely, and we need to talk. How long will you be in Aswan?" "Two months Shaymaa" "Perhaps we will meet again here Bruce. Good night Monsieur." as she turned back to Peter. She liked that Peter had seen her flirting with the American. She was now entering into the game of mixing business, international travel, and romance.
Peter asked Shaymaa what she would like to drink. She said 'white wine', and he ordered a glass along with a gin Marini specifying Bombay Sapphire, dry, with blue cheese stuffed olives. He planned only a short time with Shaymaa to deliver his written offer. Shaymaa was pleased that Sarah was not in attendance, and she did not ask about that. Peter started, "Shaymaa, in the envelope in front of you is my offer for you to join our team. It addresses both your ability to maintain your business here for the near future as well as your tuition at University with a 6 year contract subject to performance evaluation. Habibi, I believe that this is an excellent offer for you and London Sage. I have also provided some statements as to how the contract may be terminated by you or London Sage. You need to read those statements carefully and consult a lawyer for your own protection. I have been generous in the compensation package because I see phenomenal value in you once you are fully engaged with the consultancy." Shaymaa decided not to open the envelope at that time and placed in her pants' pocket. Shaymaa reached out her hand, and Peter did like wise. She held onto his hand as she said"Thank you Peter for this offer. I will be back to you in two days. I do have one request at this point, however." "Yes Shaymaa?" "Kindly refrain from using Habibi when speaking to me. We do not have that level of a personal relationship .... yet." She withdrew her hand. "Oops, another mistake on my part." Over the next several weeks he would occassionally reflect on the added 'yet'.
The drinks arrived and Shaymaa asked several questions that she had thought of while at her father's store. The questions addressed basic statistics of London Sage without going to deep into sales detail regarding specific clients. Peter was impressed with her implied business sense based upon the type of questions she asked. "Shaymaa, I have a conference call in 20 minutes that involves a major client in London. I need to depart in a moment." He motioned to the waiter for the check. Once paid, they both stood with la bise initiated simultaneously. She left for the front entrance while touching the envelope in her slack's pocket. Once again, Peter watched her walk away with a slight stir in his groin.
V. Acceptance & Rejection
It was a 20 minutes ride on her scooter to get home at 9 that evening. There was no traffic as she took the bridge across the Nile to her village. At every stoplight she would reach done with her left hand to touch her pants' pocket were she had placed the envelope with the offer enclosed. When she entered her house, her father called to her from the Kitchen. "WELL! Did you get an offer Pigeon (his nickname for her)?" "YES! Papa, I'll be there in a moment." She needed to relieve herself first. As she entered the kitchen, she was holding the envelope above her in her right hand and swaying back and forth. She bowed graciously to her father and handed him the envelope. "Papa, I have not yet opened the envelope to read the offer. You are my mentor, and I wish you to read it to me." With a gracious move as well, he took the envelope, held it out in front him, and stood erect as to make a proclamation. He opened the envelope, pulled out the letter and shook it open. He paused while he read the first several sentences first. He shook his head in disbelief. "Pigeon, you have truly outdone your dreams with this offer. Go get your mother please. She will want to hear this. She is out back." Shaymaa hastened around him and returned with her mother. Once the two were in front of the father, he continued. "There is a lot of verbiage in this offer, so I will state the primary points. Your position is to be that of Assistant to the CEO for an annual salary of £50K. WOW! Also, listen to this! You can still maintain your rental business. Here's one catch: You may be required to move to London after the first two years. However, if you do so, you will be provided a stipend of £3k/month while there. You will also be expected to travel in the Middle East occasionally, but not more than 4 times per year for up to 2 weeks each to support the marketing efforts there. Lastly, I love this one. Your tuition to receive a Bachelor's degree in business in Aswan, and possibly later in London, will be covered based upon a 6 year commitment to be employed by London Sage. However, should you leave the consultancy before that time, then you will be required to pay back 1/6 of the tuition for each full or partial year you leave early." By this time, Shaymaa and her Mom were holding each other tightly. Her father continued, "There are several conditions stated that I wish to review in detail, however I see nothing unreasonable yet. Pigeon, this offer is amazing. But, as your father, I wish to meet this Peter personally. Yes, you are 19, but I request this meeting nonetheless." "Yes Papa. I will so arrange. I am going to bed now." She hugged her father and mother and headed up to her bedroom. She did not go to sleep immediately as she mentally composed her acceptance of the offer. In the morning, she would submit her thoughts to paper.
When she was first up in the morning, Shaymaa wrote her acceptance before dressing for the day. She placed the paper in an envelope along with a note stating that her father wishes to meet with him at Peter's convenience. She provided the cell phone for her father as well as the address of his rug store near the hotel. Her plan was to deliver the evelope with its contents to Peter's hotel for placement in his key box. She would do this before heading to the docks for her felucca excursions that day. She dressed in her standard sailing garb not expecting to run into Peter. Her father was still in the kitchen when she came down for a light breakfast. "Papa, I have in my hand the acceptance of the offer as well as a note to Peter to contact you directly to meet. I really want this job, and I your meeting goes well as to you accepting him as a credible boss and individual." "Pigeon, I totally trust your judgment to the extent of your very considerable experience to date as a business owner. I only wish to assess his business overall." "Shkran, Papa." She was out of the house in 5 minutes and at the hotel 20 minutes later to drop off the envelope at the front desk.
It was going to be an intense workday for Shaymaa at the docks. All 4 feluccas had been booked with each having an individual rental period and route. Fortunately, she had a fourth handler that could fill in for her when she had to remain on the docks to manage the excursions. All of the boats had returned by 4, and her team had finished the cleanup by 5:30. She had not heard from Peter as to her acceptance, which disappointed her a bit given her excitement to have the offer. She was on the way to the Cafe to meet with Jamila when she received a text. The message was from her father stating simply that Peter had met with him and 'everything ok'. Shaymaa quickened her step to the cafe. As she approached the cafe, she was tapped on her shoulder. "Good evening Shaymaa." It was the American, Bruce, from the night before. "It is nice to see you again" "Ahhhh ... Hello Bruce. I am just now on my way to the cafe to meet with a friend." "So am I on my way to the cafe. May I escort you there." "Very kind of you, please do ... pause ... I have great news to share with my friend Jamila." He interrupted her, "Is that one of the young ladies you were with at the cafe yesterday?" Shaymaa cocked her head with puzzlement, "Yes" Bruce continued, "I as well was there, but at the other end of the cafe. I noticed the four of you huddling around the corner table. May I ask what your great news is." "Yes! I have accepted the offer of employment from the Peter fellow you met last night at the bar." "Oh yes, the Englishman. Well, congratulations Shaymaa. I am sure you are anxious to share the news with your friend." He paused. "Say? Would you join me at 1902 for dinner to celebrate your offer. It would be my great pleasure to have you as my guest for dinner." "Ahhhh, I have no plans this evening. OK ....Will 7:30 be ok?" "Absolutely! Until then Shaymaa." Upon entering the cafe, Bruce headed directly to the counter to order, and Shaymaa to the normal corner table. Jamila was already there. Jamila stood "Well! Well! Did you get the offer? But first, who was the hunk you walked in with ... and why did you not introduce me to him?" Shaymaa laughed, "All in due time, my friend. Yes! I have an offer, and it is amazing." They both sat and Shaymaa went through the primary points. Before she could order, two Italian espressos were delivered and the waitress pointed to Bruce seating at the bar. "OK, NOW you have tell me about that guy." Shaymaa sat back in her chair looking at Jamila. "I guess I know where your thoughts are right now." she said with a grin. "I expected a bit more enthusiasm for my offer." "Sorry Shaymaa, I AM perfectly amazed with your offer. So tell me how you plan to follow through with it." They continued to talk until 7:15 when Shaymaa said she had to leave in that she was going to have dinner with Bruce at 1902. "My Allah, Shaymaa! (Jamila is a Muslim.) You are stroking on all cylinders."
As she entered 1902, the same Maître D graciously greeted her. "Good evening Madam, Mr. George is at the table to which I will escort you." He thought nothing about the sailing garb she had on at this point. This gracious woman would always be welcome here since she seemed to know the right men. Bruce stood as she approached the table, and he held her seat, stepping in front of the Maître D. "Thank you Shaymaa for joining me for dinner." She was into the game again as she was the night before. "My pleasure Bruce." He motioned to the waiter to come to the table. "Shaymaa, would you object to me ordering one of my favorite Champagnes to begin this celebration of your achievement?" "That would be wonderful." He turned to the waiter, "Abottle of Vevue Clicquot please" As the waiter departed, Bruce turned back to face Shaymaa. "You told me last night that you are a Nubian. I know little of your culture, your people." "Actually Bruce, my father is Egyptian and my mother Nubian. However, I have been raised in a Nubian village speaking Nubiin as well as Arabic. I speak English as the result of working in my father's rug store in Aswan." Bruce cut in speaking softly "I would like to know more about Nubians ... and about you Shaymaa." She recognized that the game is definitely on now. She looked directly into Bruce's eyes, and with a firm stance she started, "Really Bruce? I am charmed, but why are you in interested in my culture ... and me." The Champagne arrived, was opened, and 2 flutes filled. The bottle was placed in a chiller as the waiter departed without further interference. The waiter had seen this Bruce fellow in action for the last month in the restaurant with a variety of attractive women, and he knew Bruce's routine. 'Oooooooo' Bruce did not expect such a direct response from this woman; from this apparently most challenging woman. "Well Shaymaa, to be quite forward, I find you to be enchanting, and I expect full of surprises for most men ... and perhaps even women. I really like that. So now, I offer this toast to you in your new job." He made the toast, and they clicked flutes. "Thank you for that. This is the best Champagne I have ever had." as she took a second drink nearly empting the flute. Actually, it was her first taste of Champagne and not aware of its possible effects on some people. Bruce refilled her flute only and purposely made a second toast. "Here is to our getting to know each other." Again the click of the flutes, and Shaymaa nearly emptied the glass. In a moment she burped given the effervescence of the Champagne, and then giggled covering her mouth with her free hand. Bruce smiled and again refilled her flute. He motioned to the waiter to bring the menus. "Shaymaa, what do you recommend for dinner." Recovering from her giggling, Please excuse my burp. I drunk the champagne too quickly it seems." "I thought it was very charming." He said with a smile. He reached across the table to take one of her hands in his. "I find your giggle to be endearing." She was starting to feel some effects of having quickly drank 2 glasses of Champagne. She wasn't use to even this level of flirtatious charm, that she figured was due to him being an American. With the menus delivered, Bruce asked her to order for the both of them. She ordered 1 large serving of a mixed grill, a side of sauteed vegteabnle, and a bottle of Egyptian red wine. Robert nodded approvingly. Shaymaa was determined to stay in the role of an international businesswoman, and proceeded to ask him what she thought were the appropriate type of questions, as if she was in a Wall Street movie scene. He responded respectfully, returning with questions for her as to her forthcoming job. She felt that she was handling the conversation well. The wine was delivered. Bruce did the initial taste, and 2 glasses were poured. Bruce kindly 'insisted' that she have first the 'drops of happiness' remaining in the Champagne bottle. She accepted and finished the flute. With the wine now in front of them, Bruce took a different tack in the conversation. "So Shaymaa, as you may know, or have experienced, American men are fairly direct in their thoughts." She replied. " I am starting to realize that." she said with a smile. He continued. "I find you to be excitingly unique and attractive." She blushed, "Thank you sir. Likewise, you are indeed very handsome." This was the Champagne speaking for her. "I am curious, if I may ask, are you romantically involved with this fellow from last night?" She cocked her had as being shy. "Interesting, why do you ask that?" "Again, I am an American, therefore I am naturally straightforward. That is, I would like to see more of you after tonight." "Really?" she said with a sense of false dignity. " First!, I am NOT romantically involved with Peter. As to future dates, I will consider that possibility at the end of this evening ... as you should." she smiled. "OK, I gladly accept that challenge." The waiter arrived with the food as the previous conversation was taking place. The waiter took his time in serving the food as well as the Nubian bread. He was attempting to hear part of the conversation so as to perceive how far along Bruce was with his routine with this woman compared to a number of previous episodes the waiter had observed. He sensed that this woman was handling the situation quite well, and he was correct.
Once they started eating, Bruce continued the conversation in a very personal way asking about her family and life as a Nubian. She noticed that he used his utensils differently than Peter. That is, he only used his right hand to cut the tender meat with his fork and then to place the morsel in his mouth. Rarely did he use a knife in his right hand with a fork in his left hand to hold the meat. With one particular cutting effort, she noticed that there was a pale band around his ring finger. This was a stark contrast to the tan of his body. 'Oops' she thought. This is the first time in her limited dating that she actually took notice of a man's left hand. That hadn't been necessary in her dating experiences in Aswan. She would hold this point for now, and let Bruce proceed with his inquiries of her life and desires. During the meal, the waiter would come to the table several times to refill the wine glasses, again to listen more to Bruce's routine that the waiter knew quite well by now. He was hoping to hear Bruce's closing line for the night which would likely start with "Have you ever been to Paris?" Whether 'Yes' or 'No'., he then would follow with "Would you like to join me in Paris for the weekend?" Quickly he would follow with "If you may think so, then let's discuss later after dinner ... in my room. I will order another bottle of that Veuve Cliquot. And of course, I will provide you a taxi to take you back to your village." "As I said Bruce, we will discuss the possibility of future meetings at the end of the night. However, for now Dinner will be the end of this evening for us two."
Before they had finished their entrées, his cell rang, and he excused himself stating that it was a call from the U.S. that he needed to take. In his absense the waiter came to the table. "Madame, I feel that I must tell you something. This man has had numerous dinners here over the last month with attractive women as yourself. The few parts of your conversation I have heard so far are very like what he has had before with those women. I know you are Nubian from your accent, and I like your spirit including your faux French." He smiled. "I ask you to be cautious as to accepting what he tells you." "Merci beaucoup, Monsieur." she said with a broad smile. "I have already picked up on this American's not-so-hidden intentions."
Bruce returned to the table as she was finishing her entrée. "Sorry about that Shaymaa. I really had to take that call." She smiled as she looked directly into his eyes "Is everything OK with the family, Bruce?" "Ahhhh yes." He paused and began "Let me explain." She cut him short. "No, don't bother. I don't want to hear your 'alqarf' (Arabic). You are a scoundrel. So! To address your earlier point, we will NOT HAVE any further meetings. With that she stood and exited the restaurant slipping E£50 to the waiter along with a wink.
As she prepared for bed that evening, she realized that the 'Bruce experience' was a valuable lesson for her future occupation. She had not shared what happen with her father.
Shaymaa rose in the morning to her cell phone ringing. She first glanced at the clock to note that it was 9:15. She recognized the country code for the call to be 44, suggesting that it was Peter's London number. She answered to hear a female voice asking for Shaymaa. "This is she." "Shaymaa Dear, I am Martha from London Sage. I am the Administrative Officer for the consultancy. Are you free now to talk for several minutes?" "Ahhhh .. Yes! Hello Martha. I am just getting up." "Sorry Dear, I can call you back when you wish." "Now is fine. What do you wish to discuss?" "Well, I am so glad to know of your acceptance of the offer Peter has made you, and that you accepted. He and I talked for an hour last evening to instruct me to set up the necessary papers for your signature to begin your employment." "Ok Martha, what type of papers?" "First, is the contract itself to formalize the offer. Second, are your personal data as to address, phone, and email." Also, since you are our first employee from Egypt, I will have our tax consultant call you to clear all of the necessary steps for you working there. That includes securing any necessary visa requirements and dealing with your Tax Identification Number." "You mean my TIN?" "Yes, Dear." Shaymaa provided her father's FAX number. There were several more comments by Martha including that Peter would call her at 11 this morning to set up a meeting for a formal introduction to London Sage and your position as Assistant to the CEO. "That will be fine." "I wish to note, Dear, Peter is quite excited about having you work for the consultancy, especially as his personal assistant. You will find that he is quite an amazing individual and a leader for the firm." Shaymaa already believed that.
At precisely 11, Peter called. "Hello Peter. "Good Morning Shaymaa. Martha told me that all is moving forward as to getting you officially employed by London Sage." "Yes, she will be faxing the necessary documents to my father's machine." "So! I have only several days left in Aswan. And I would like you to meet me for dinner this evening to provide you with an indoctrination to the consultancy as well as to work out a mutual understanding of what your role will be as my Assistant." Not waiting for her response, he purposely kept talking to make it clear that this was not actually an invitation, but rather a requirement. He had plans for her this evening that went beyond that of only a discussion. Shaymaa intuitively understood that she had to be there that evening. She was no longer the boss, but an employee subject to such requirements. She simply replied, "Where and when Peter?" "I will be at 1902 at 7 and looking forward to your joining me." This was again subtlety stated as a requirement therefore not needing her to accept. "I will see you then Peter. Goodbye." "Until then, my Assistant."
Shaymaa dressed in her favorite linen slacks with an open collar satin blouse. She had no sailing engagements that day. She went to the kitchen to get a light lunch before returning to her room to do more research on the London Sage website. Her father was still there before heading for his shop. "My-oh-my Pigeon, you are dressed very stylishly today. What's up?" "Papa, I am having dinner with Peter tonight to be more formerly introduced to the consultancy. We also are to discuss what my responsibilities will be as his personal Assistant." "Super!. May I ask why you seemed to be upset when you came in last night? I didn't want to ask you at that time. I know you too well to interfere in your thoughts when you appear to be intense." She briefly explained the 'Bruce experience' to him noting that it was a valuable lesson for her in working outside of the Village and Aswan. "You are entering a steep learning path now with this position. It seems you did quite well. I am so proud of you Pigeon." She gave him an intense hug and kiss on his cheek. She grabbed her sandwich and a bottle of water, and returned to her room.
She was at 1902 at 7 and was affectionately greeted by the same Maître D as the times before. "Good evening, Madam. Always a pleasure to see you here." "Likewise Monsieur. May I ask your name? "Madame, my name is Joseph." "I'm Shaymaa", and she followed him to the table. Peter rose from his chair as the two approached the table. Peter placed himself in front of the Maître D to seat Shaymaa, just as Bruce had the night before. "Good evening Shaymaa." "Indeed it is a good evening Peter, now that I am to be part of your team. I am very excited about starting my responsibility as YOUR assistant." "Yes, this is a first for both of us. Therefore our time together tonight is two-fold. First, tonight is in celebration of your joining the team. Second, you and I will make the first effort to define your responsibilities as my Assistant. Let me place your mind at ease to the second point. Your responsibilities may likely change as you get more involved with London Sage. For example how your services are used in Arab-speaking countries, as notede in your contract, may fluctuate significantly. However, I have purposely provided a limit to such services given what I expect is your desire to remain grounded in Aswan, at least for the first several years." "Peter, I greatly appreciate your sensitivity in that matter .... which enhanced my desire for this offer even more. I think your offer is very generous. Thank you for that and your confidence in what I can do for the consultancy." "To be candid with you, I understand that you are somewhat of an unknown to me, but I see intelligence and perseverance in you that is so unusual for your age." "Ahhhhh .... I need to tell you something Peter. I exaggerated my age the other night. I am not in my 20's, but actually only 19. I'm sorry, I felt slightly insecure in mentioning my actual age." Peter laughed out loud. "Habibi... oops sorry, that came out naturally being in this environment. Shaymaa, the fact that you are only 19 is even more to your credit... sort of. But also you did not tell me the truth at the beginning ,,, but then again you just confessed. So, I'll say that all of that has now evened-out, if you will." Shaymaa shyly smiled, "I greatly appreciate that." The waiter, the same as the previous nights, arrived to deliver menus and to ask for drink orders. Shaymaa interjected, "Peter, with your permission I would like Veuve Clicqout Champagne. I have come to enjoy that particular Champagne on special occasions." "That's perfect!" Turning to the waiter, "So it is Monsieur." As he left, the waiter turned towards Shaymaa smiled and winked his approval.
As they waited for the Champagne, Peter started the conversation in a light fashion asking about her felucca rental business. Thinking that he might have a certain point in mind, she responded that she had plans to possibly bring in her brother to manage the business while she maintained ownership. Howeverm, his real purpose was simply to start the evening's conversation in a fashion comfortable to her. The Champagne was delivered, opened, and 2 flutes poured by. the waiter. "Well! Shaymaa, I never expected that this trip to Aswan would result in hiring an Assistant. Here's to your new profession." They clicked their flutes, and Shaymaa now knew not to drink it so fast as the night before. Nonetheless, she gave out a slight burp. "Sorry about that Peter." "NO apology required. I thought it was charming." Shaymaa put her flute down thinking to herself, 'is that not the word that Bruce used the night before?" In addition to Peter heading off the Maître D to seat her, this was the second remembrance of the night before. That was not to be the last of the similarities of this dinner with Peter as the night before with Bruce.
With additional light conversation, the bottle of Champagne was finished in short time. The waiter arrived to take their dinner order. Peter turned to Shaymaa, "Please order for both of us Shaymaa. (#3 similarity she noted). Turning towards the waiter, "We would like a large order of the mixed grille, sautéed vegetables, and a bottle of Egyptian red." Waiter cocked his head "Of course Madam. That has been a favorite lately.", again with a smile and wink. The light conversation continued until the wine was delivered, tasted by Shaymaa, and poured into 2 glasses. "Shaymaa I wish to explain 2 primary introductory points to you this evening." She sat up close to the table with the glass of wine in her hand. First, he spent some time stating the basics of the consultancy. Second, he then provided his thoughts about what he believed would be the primary responsibilities of the Assistant. She listened intently as ahe mentally placed the responsibilities into several categories. When he stopped talking, she started, "What I hear as to my responsibilities as your Assistant fall into 4 categories. Specifically, I will assist you in the following: First, I am to ensure that all documents you need to handle in the company are properly presented and handled; Second, I am to provide you with Arabic translations for such correspondence; Third, I will coordinate and track your social and business events once I am in London; Lastly, I will attend meetings with you in Arab speaking countries as your interpreter. "Excellent, you understand what I have said and organized the information effectively. We are off to a jolly start."
The food was delivered along with Nubian bread. Peter ordered another bottle of the wine. As they ate, he continued to ask more questions, but of a more personal nature. Shaymaa began to perceive a similar pattern to what Bruce had asked (#4). She was also starting to feel the effect of the Champagne and wine. At one point she realized that he was quite attentive as to keeping her wine glass full. (#5). "Shaymaa, if not too intrusive, are you involved with anyone here that may make it difficult for a possible move to London, as I stated in the offer?" (#5½)" "No, I have found the Muslim men to be misogynistic, and in the Nubian culture you are pressured to marry within your village as well as a cousin. Both of those possibilities are repulsive to me." She paused and decided to make a forward statement for her. "Actually, you are the first Englishman I have met. And, I had dinner last night with the first American. Both of you are very unique to me. Hence, the possible move to London may be quite agreeable for me as to my social life." She took a long sip of wine not knowing how to further her thoughts. "As to that American, I saw the two of together last night. I was at a corner of the bar with Sarah, and I happen to see you walk away somewhat briefly without him." "Yes! He was a bit of a rascal, it turned out. I wish to go no further with discussing him. But, it was a good lesson for me in dealing with people, men in particular, when outside of Aswan. I am referring to my travel requirements for the consultancy to Arab speaking countries." "Sorry for what took place last night, I greatly like that you realized that as a lesson of value for you. I dare say that there are many other such lessons in the future as you adapt to your position in our consultancy. I made the offer to you based upon what I have perceived to be a resilience and sense of responsibility in you that will service both you and our consultancy in the short and long term." Shaymaa could feel herself blushing, although barely noticeable given her radiant mahogany skin. Shaymaa decided to turn the table. "Peter, in that I am going to be your personal Assistant, I would like to know about your life in London and your social interests so as to be aligned with servicing you the best that I can. Or, is that too personal?" Peter laughed out loud. "That is totally appropriate. One more example why I am so pleased to have you as my personal Assistant. When you come to London, I will directly involve you in my activities there. You will be requested to join me on some social events as well as business meetings. As to the former, I will be proud to introduce you as my date, and not my Assistant, if that will be OK with you." "WOW! I didn't see that coming Peter." For the first time she glanced quickly at his ring finger. There was no ring or pale band. "To be honest, I am a bit uncomfortable with what you have suggested as being your date." "We will. be discussing this when the opportunity comes about. Your job is NOT dependent upon doing what I request if you are not comfortable, I brought that up too early actually. Neither of us know where we will be as to our personal relationships in the future. I am only stating a possibility. Please understand Shaymaa that I respect you and will not offend you at any time." "I believe you Peter. Thank you for your candidness."
There was still a half bottle of wine when they finished their meals. Since neither one of them wanted deserts, Peter signaled the waiter to bring the check. "Shaymaa, I have a document that you need to sign. It will let Martha to begin the process of getting permission to hire a foreigner. This is a new law in Britain as to hiring expatriates. Unfortunately, I left it in my room upstairs. So, once I pay the tab, I will grab the bottle of the remaining wine, and you can come up to my room to sign the paper so as I can FAX it tomorrow morning." (#6½). Shaymaa paused and then said timidly, "Peter, I am not comfortable going to your room, especially after last night given rascally efforts of the American. Sorry." Peter looked directly into Shaymaa's eyes as she turned to face him. "I do understand Shaymaa, but I do need this signature for tomorrow morning since you have officially accepted my offer How about this? Come up to the room and I will leave the door open when you enter. You will be out in less than 2 minutes." "Thank you for your understanding, and YES that is fine." "Jolly! Oops, I just got a text from a team member. Permit me to respond quickly before we go up." He turned slightly in his chair in a way that she could not see his response.(#7½). Peter left cash on the table to pay the tab. "Shall we go?" He got up and pulled out Shaymaa's chair as she stood. "The elevator is this way." She followed him and entered the elevator when the door opened. He said nothing else until the elevator opened on the 3rd floor. "Shaymaa to the left to 304." Once at the entrance to the room, he turned to her. This will take less than 2 minutes and you can leave." " I'm okay Peter, really! Her touched the pad on the door with his room card and pushed the door open for her to enter first. The lights were out, and as she entered he operated the light switch. She was greeted with a loud 'WELCOME TO OUR FIRM, SHAYMAA'. It was the entire team there to celebrate her hiring. Shaymaa was speechless as Peter lightly placed his hand on her back to guide her further into the room. She turned to face Peter and only said "WOW!" Peter looked at her with a broad smile. "There is no document for you to sign. I told you a lie. Now we are even."
Her parents were not awake when she got home after the surprise celebration. Peter had arranged for a driver to take her to her village that evening as well to pick her up in the morning to bring her back to Aswan. He also had her scooter placed in storage at the Hotel. As she went up the stairs to her bedroom, she laughed at herself for having associated Peter's actions as being similar to those of Bruce. Dealing with these male motivations had been a lesson indeed, but interacting with Peter had brought her back into focus about men that were neither Muslims nor Nubians. It had been a stressful evening for her, not in a bad way, but rather due to the intensity of the interactions she had with each of team members. Sarah wasn't even her normal haughty self. She also noted that there had not been male/female flirting going on between Peter and Sarah. There was no doubt in her mind that joining London Sage was a wise move, and she had Peter to thank for it. As she was changing into her loose satin nightgown, she smiled thinking about the possibility of being Peter's date at London's grand social events. Once again, she raised her arms above her head as she swayed her way to the bed from the WC. Her last thought before she lay down to sleep was a bit mischievous. 'Hmmmm ... a date with Peter may take some air out of Sarah's patronizing balloon,'
She was up at 8 in the morning. She had 3 excursions scheduled in the afternoon, one of which would be out until 7 in the evening. She had most of the morning to write a short list of questions for which she required more detail information from Peter. Specifically, they had not yet discussed the tactical details as to when she would start, how she would receive the necessary training, and which clients in Aswan would she deal with initially. As to he last point, she assumed that Sarah would make the introductions for her to the clients since Aswan was Sarah's 'territory'. As she was dressing in her sailing garb to go to the dock, she received a call with the '44' -country code. It was not that of either Peter or Martha. "Hello, this is Shaymaa." "Good morning, this is Sarah. First of all, I am glad you are a team member." Shaymaa felt that she was sincere. "We need to have a talk to provide further detail on how you will start, the necessary training, and the clients here in Aswan as to their needs and their appropriate contacts for you." Yes Sarah, I have been putting together a list of my requirements, including all of which you have just mentioned." "Capital! What time do you have today and tomorrow?" "I have 3 excursions this afternoon, but I can bring in one my team to handle what I would normally be doing. So! Name when and where today after Noon. Also, I suggest the cafe 1 block down from the hotel entrance by turning left when you exit the hotel. The cafe is called Al Oahwa. There is a table at the far corner where I will be seating." "Very well. We'll go for 1. See you there. Bring a notebook and pen to take notes of what I will be providing. Bye Shaymaa" and she hung up not waiting for Shaymaa's response. Shaymaa decided to change into her tight Capri slacks and a loosely weaved cotton sweater. She did so subconsciously so as to present a physical presence at least equal to that of Sarah's. She called Lisib and informed him of the change in plans for the afternoon. She then called Jamila to ask her to go to the cafe no later than 12:15 to secure the table for her until she arrived. Therefore, when Shaymaa got there, she would have some time to bring Jamila up to date.
At 11:45, she called the hired driver from the night before to pick her up to go to Aswan. He was at the entrance to the village at noon, and she was at the cafe at 12:20. Jamila was at the table when she entered with two Italian espressos at the ready. With a la biss, Shaymaa sat across from her dearest friend. "Well Shaymaa, what's the latest?" "All is moving forward wonderfully. At 1 that Sarah individual, I told you about, will be here to provide the necessary details to get started. While I report directly to Peter, she wil be my indirect boss her in Aswan. So far she seems to have become more accepting of me. But, we'll see. After all, she is going to be greatly dependent upon my handling the clients here in the best way." She then explained the need for her to be Peter's possible date for social events when she is in London. Again, she ended that point with "We'll see." "Habibi, this is going to go very well for you in so many ways, 'iin sha' allah'," The conversation changed somewhat as to what her responsibilities would include. At 1 on the dot, Sarah presented herself at the table. "Hello Sarah, this is my friend Jamila. She is just leaving." Jamila stood, and simply said, "Hello and goodbye, I know you two have much to discuss. Later habibi." With Jamila gone, Sarah turned to Shaymaa. "Well! Your friend is quite blunt." "Not really. She knows that my time with you is very limited and valuable. Unlike me, she is Muslim and therefore respects the time and privacy of others. So, would you like something to drink as we get started? I will be having a Italian expresso." "Yes, I would like that as well with cream on the side." "You got it" as Shaymaa went to the counter to order. Returning to the table, she started, "Sarah, how do we start?" Sarah took the queue, "For your understanding, I wish to start with my viewpoint of your role here in Aswan. To be candid, I don't believe you are qualified to do what I require for our clients here." Shaymaa stirred in her seat. "Wait, hear me out Shaymaa. Actually no one is qualified given the cultural and language challenges. But, it is both my opinion as well as Peter's, that it is quicker to teach you the basics of what we do then to teach our current team members how to speak Arabic ... or Nubiin. Plus, you reside here which is too foreign for our team. Peter sees immense capability in you, especially at your age. So, to be blunt, you are the best of all evils, so to speak." Shaymaa held her composure. "I'll take that as the back-handed compliment that it is." The espressos arrived along with some complimentary Belgian chocolates. Shaymaa noted, "By the way, the cream is pasteurized in this cafe, which is not always the case across Egypt." Sarah laughed easily. "That is an example, although a small one granted, of why cultural knowledge is important for our team to work here in Aswan." She paused as she pulled a number of documents out of her soft-leathered attaché. "Shaymaa, in preparation for this meeting I have prepared a number of papers for your understanding. They include briefs for each of our possible clients here. Of course, they are not to be shared outside of the consultancy. Additionally, I have provided several brochures regarding our consulting services. You will not be required to interact with the customer on any of the business objectives. The other team members provide that expertise as required. To that point, I have provided a brief CV for each team member. I have also provided a table of the team members as to whether or not they are primarily qualified as to 15 specific talents. However, since you do not have a business degree ... yet ... , you need to know the keywords of what we do as to their basic meaning. I have provided a glossary for many of those keywords that you can further research in the financial/technical papers I have provided. Lastly, I have created a rough timeframe for your tasks for the next 6 months, including your visit to London for indoctrination there for approximately 1 month." Shaymaa reached out to take the documents. She was genuinely excited when she said, " Sarah, this is absolutely great what you have provided. You clearly have put an effort into getting me off on a good start." "Of course! That is my job. You will never receive less from me as you progress in the consultancy. You should find that true for all team members whom Peter has personally and purposely chosen. That will be evident when you review the table of skills of the individual members. The team is very well balanced. Given your specific tasks in Aswan, you will be assigned by me to assist the efforts of a number of these folks when they are here. That will be the same when you are sent to the other Arab-speaking countries to support my counterpart there, Bob George. In both cases you do report directly to Peter as a staff member, however you are under my direction for the assignments here ... as well as with Bob. This is a unique reporting structure for the consultancy, but it is Peter's desire." Sarah stiffened slightly, "Peter sees and expects your talents to be used beyond just that of field support." "Again, thank you for your assistance, and I look forward to your guidance as required when handling tasks here in Aswan. I say that with all honesty in that I am now an employee and not the owner, not the boss. So, yes, I know that I have many things to experience and learn in that capacity." "Shaymaa, at this point, do you have any further questions or comments? "No I don't." as she glanced at the stack of documents that Sarah provided. "Then with that said, again welcome to the team. I am off now to meet with a possible client." They both stood and shook hands. Shaymaa took her seat again as Sarah departed. She placed her head into her hands and thought 'Oh my God! What have I taken on?' She would reflect on this meeting over the next several days as she went through all of the documentation.
Shaymaa woke up early the next morning with a feeling of apprehension. It was due to her dream of being in school and having not studied for the final exam in mathematics. Quickly coming to the realization of where she was, she was not able to get back to sleep. As she stood to take a shower, she saw the stack of documents on her desk in the room and let out an audible groan. She took a longer shower than usual hesitating to face the inevitable task she was assigned. She then dressed in light cotton slacks and a loosely weaved cotton blouse and headed downstairs. Her parents were not in the kitchen as she walked through towards a foot path along the Nile. She was heading for the library in the next village to study most of the documents she had been given. As usual, it was a bright, cloudless morning when suddenly a 4 ft. shoebill stork landed on the shore just ahead of her. She was startled and dropped a number of the files. As she bent to gather them, the stork slowly approached her and then stopped staring at her. Shaymaa knew that this imposing type of bird was docile. She continued on her way laughing at herself that she had so reacted. She had to get a hold of herself with these new responsibilities.
When she arrived at the library, she positioned herself at a desk in a corner behind a book stack; she wished to not be distracted. She remained there until 3 reading and taking notes about her team members first and then their individual skill sets outlined in the table. Next she reviewed the keywords in the glossary and correlated them to the 15 primary skills. She was mentally exhausted when she packed up her documents and headed back along the footpath. Once again, the stork flew in and landed at her side. She was not startled this time. She had regained much of her confidence as to meeting the challenge of this new career.
Once at home, she dropped off her documents and took her scooter into Aswan to meet Jamila at the cafe at 4:30. When she got there, Jamila was not there yet. So she checked her phone for calls and messages since she hadn't all day. There was a call from Peter with a message. "Shaymaa, this is Peter. I understand that Sarah met with you last night and provided you with a mountain of documents. When you get this message, please call me to discuss the continuation of your indoctrination. No hurry. While the rest of the team leaves Aswan tomorrow, I have extended my stay here by another week. Thank you. Cheerio!" Shaymaa smiled when she thought there may be more meetings with Peter in the next week ... and without Sarah. Her smiled broadened. Jamila arrived as Shaymaa was ordering Italian espressos for the two of them. With a la bliss and a hug, they both sat down. Shaymaa was beaming with excitement to bring her friend up to date. Without being asked, she began talking with a string of rapid thoughts. She started with her confidence as to getting a handle on what she would be doing and ending with the point that Peter would be in Aswan for another week. "Whoa my friend. Catch a breath." "Sorry, I am on a high right now for all of the right reasons." The espressos arrived with Shaymaa sitting back in her chair. Taking a sip of the espresso, she started again in rapid fire. "Did i already tell you that when I am in London that I am to be his 'date' for social events? When he first mentioned that I was a bit taken back by that point. But now, ... but now, I am starting to truly understand this tremendous opportunity I have to break away from the constraints of my life in the village as well as the Islam culture of Aswan. Did I also tell you?" Jamila interrupted her. "Whoa!, again Shaymaa. You are my dearest friend, and I feel I need to be the Devil's advocate here." "Yes!, You are correct, and I treasure your understanding of me as well as your sound judgment over the years. After all, it was your 'meddling' in my mind when I was 14 to urge me to start my felucca rental business." "Meddling, really!?" "Just kidding habibi; do your stuff." Jamila continued, "Where is your mind?" "Having gone through much of the documentation I have been given for London Sage, I instinctively believe that I can do the work with ease. Additionally, should I stay with this job for at least 6 years, given the terms of my contract, I will have a business degree as well as exceptional international experience that will permit me to work in amazing places outside of Egypt, for example London or Paris... perhaps even the States." "First, I must say until several minutes ago, I was really concerned that you were stepping into a situation in which you could be taken advantage of given your age. However, I am now in sync with your excitement and expectations. I believe I need not challenge you anymore, if for no other reason than what you are pursuing is beyond my ability to comprehend." "Thank you for that." "By the way, do you have contact info for that American, Bruce?" "Ok, let me turn the table and be your Devil's advocate. Please don't go near that guy. He will simply take advantage of you. He is a 'player' here with a family in the States." "Ooooo, thank you for that." For the rest of their time together that late afternoon, the conversation focused on comments and inquiries by Shaymaa and Jamila, respectively, as to Peter, thereby revealing that Shaymaa was now clearly smitten with this Englishman. Shaymaa now fully understood and accepted that about herself.
As she and Jamila were getting ready to depart, she received a call from Peter. "Hello Shaymaa, this is Peter." "Hello Peter." "Can you meet me and the team at the bar of 1902 this evening at 6:30 for a celebration of my team's efforts here before they leave tomorrow?" "I would love that. I will see you shortly. Goodbye." "Goodbye Shaymaa."
Shaymaa was at the bar on time having spoken to the Maître D' for several minutes. Only Peter was there. "Hello Shaymaa. The rest of the team will be her at 6:45, as I requested of them. Without them present, I wish to pass something by you." Shaymaa sat down on the bar stool next to him. "Yes Peter?" "This is short notice, I understand, but can you return with me to London this coming Friday?" "Wow! Yes, of course, but I will need a passport." "Martha can provide such by then." "But why the urgency Peter?" "There are 2 reasons. First, an important Saudi Sheik is to meet with me in London regarding a major contract, and I want you to be my Assistant and interpreter. Second, I know you have no experience in air travel, especially internationally, and I wish to be your guide to address the challenges of an Egyptian citizen entering Great Britain to do work there. If I am with you, then I can directly handle any problems with my contacts in the appropriate government agencies.: He paused for a moment. "We will meet in 2 days to go through the details." As he was making his final point about the trip to London, the other team members began to arrive. All of them were seated at a large table that Peter had reserved, and the farewell dinner began. As before, Peter had arranged a driver for Shaymaa for her trip home that evening, and then a return trip, as she desired the next day. Her scooter was once again stored at the Hotel.
IX. London Bound
Shaymaa fidgeted throughout dinner. She was both excited and anxious given how things were advancing quicker than she expected. She would be in London in a week and without her family and Jamila, especially. She was surprised that Peter did not tell the staff at dinner of her forthcoming arrival. Therefore, she said nothing as she said goodbye to everyone after dinner. Her driver was waiting for her as she left the restaurant. Once at home, she found that her parents had already gone to bed. She went directly to her bedroom with her mind spinning as to what she should pack in her luggage. Not being familiar with London's weather, she decided to take several of her warmest outfits and then plan on shopping once there.
She did not sleep comfortably that night, There were a number of things she had to do before leaving, including assuring the continuing management of her felucca rentals. Surely, Martha would assist her in finding an apartment ... in the right part of town. She would need an advance in her pay to get started. What about transportation once there? How much would a scooter cost? Could she find a Coptic church? What if she didn't like the big city? Would her cell phone work there? How could she find Nubians with whom to associate? Is her clothing of the right style to fit in? What clothing would she require for her 'dates' with Peter when required? Could she find the type of seasonings and means to make Shamsi (the unique Nubian bread that is set to raise in the sun)? Would she need to get some medical shots before she left? ... It was well after midnight when she fell asleep sitting up in her bed with her headsets on listening to Brahms.
In the morning when she woke still sitting up, she was quickly out of bed and into the shower. She remembered some of what she had thought about the night before, and she wanted to make her list of what had to be accomplished before her departure. First, however, she wanted to tell her parents of the trip. She dressed quickly in light cotton slacks, and again a loose blouse, and headed for the kitchen. Both her parents would likely be there at this time in the morning. As she headed down the steps, she stopped for a moment to think about how to tell her father. He had always been very supportive of what she pursued beginning 5 years earlier with her felucca rental business. But, this was different, he would not be able to be by her side if something went awry. She knew that would really bother him.
"Good morning Mom and Papa!" They returned her greetings. She decided to make an overly positive statement about her trip. "I am very, very excited to tell you that my job is progressing quickly! It so happens that within 1 week I will be in London to begin my training." "WOW! Pigeon", her father said with unquestionable joy. Her Mom smiled and gave Shaymaa a warm hug not saying anything, Shaymaa was taken back somewhat given her expectation otherwise of her father's reaction. Her father continued. "This is your second major life challenge after having started your own business 5 years ago. We are so proud of you." Mom gave her another hug. Her father continued, "Shaymaa, I have to go into Aswan now, but let's get together after dinner and talk through the issues you need to address before you leave .... and when you get there." "Thanks Papa. Your knowledge and guidance has always been very important to me. To be honest,
I am a bit anxious about this whole London thing." He responded quickly, "There is nothing that will keep you from succeeding other than your doubt of yourself." With that said and a kiss on the cheek for her and his wife, he left. Shaymaa sat at the kitchen table as her Mom prepared her favorite breakfast: 'Pain Perdue' with homemade cane/honey syrup and chicken sausage links. Her Mom did not offer any thoughts to her, and nor did Shaymaa ask for any. She knew her Mom would be sad about her departure - the first time out of the village for either of the children.
With the days remaining before she left for London, Shaymaa would focus on getting her business in order as to accounting records, licenses, and advanced payment for the docking spaces for 2 months. She had decided to not offer Ahmed, her step-brother, the management of her business. First, Ahmad had remained loyal to Islam, his father's faith. Second, Ahmed practiced the same male masogynistic practices of Muslims in dealing with woman. Lastly, for some time Ahmed had been talking about going to West Africa to get involved with the textile and clothing industries by joining his close friend there. As to her crew, they had not demonstrated enough maturity to handle her business properly in her absence. Jamila was her most reasonable choice. In the afternoon they would meet at the cafe for that discussion. In her mind she had a plan to bring Jamila in as a partner when permanently assigned in London at some point. This coming trip would be an appropriate test for that plan. After breakfast, Shaymaa called the driver that she had been assigned the previous night at dinner so to go into Aswan, She was going to meet with Jamila at the favored cafe to discuss the felucca business. Afterwards she would obtain the scooter from the Hotel to get home.
Jamila was already at their favorite table when she arrived. The two hugged each other intensely knowing that this was the last time each would see the other for some time. There were tears running down each of their cheeks. As they sat, two Italian cappuccinos arrived that had been ordered by Jamila. Shaymaa started, "We have several serious issues to discuss." Jamila sat forward in her chair as she wiped her tears. She then reached over to wipe Shaymaa's tears. They both laughed. Shaymaa continued, "Jamila, you are my best and most loving and trusted friend. " pause "I am asking you to consider taking over my business while I am gone. With this, Jamila sat back in her chair with an expression of total surprise. Shaymaa said nothing more giving Jamila time to gather her thoughts. Jamila's response was almost instantenous. "My God girl, are you serious?" Not waiting for a response, she continued, "I would absolutely love that. THANK YOU!" They spent the next several hours with Shaymaa explaining the necessary requirements for Jamila's handling of the business. Shaymaa turned over the keys to her business as well as a signed document providing Jamila with the proper authority to manage the business. Shaymaa did not tell Jamila that was a test for her to manage the business once she was in London on a permanent basis. As Shaymaa stood to leave, Jamila came over and hugged her saying "God bless your travels, and thank you for your trust in me. I love you so much." "And I Love you." Shaymaa departed with both of them having tears on their cheeks.
Upon retreiving her scooter from the hotel and arriving at home, she was greeted by her father. He had closed his rug business early to spend time with his daughter that eveing. He had a number of thoughts to share with her as to her time in London. His primary concern was to address her naivety in meeting people in London. He also addressed his positon on how she should interact with the culture of England, but without scaring her. While he had doubts regarding Peter's overall intentions with her, his comments were general about Englishmen and not Peter speciically. Lastly, he made a most emphatic point about her not hesitating to return home if she felt threatened in some way. He wanted her to be clear that she had no contractual obligation to remain there if she was not comfortable. However, there may be challenges which at first may seem impossible to handle. But, he stated that she has great peserverance and sound judgement. Shaymaa was a bit confused on his last statement, but thanked him sincerely, kissed his cheek and went to her room skipping dinner. She now accepted that she was an individual responsible to herself first.
Martha had managed to get her passport arranged including Shaymaa's picture that was sent by email. Sarah was helpful in this endeavor to get the completed passport to Aswan within 4 days. The day before departure, Peter called her to discuss any remaining issues she may have. She listed what she had done for preparation. Peter simply said. "Super Shaymaa. You are ready to go. A driver will pick you up at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Also, please tell your parents that you will be well taken care of during this short trip. Please give them my cell phone so as to call me at any time. Sweet Dreams and I will see you tomorrow at the airport." "Thank you Peter. I am very excited about this opportunity you have offered me."
The air trip to London required a one-hour Egypt Air to Cairo, and then First Class on British Air to London. Normally, Egypt Air would have been the most convenient flight to London as to airport connections. But, no alcohol was served on Egypt Air, and Peter wanted to do some preliminary 'conditioning' of Shaymaa by treating her to the best. On the first flight Shaymaa giggled on take off being not use to the trust of the airplane that pinned her to the back of her seat. Sitting by a window, she was amazed by the sight of the Nile below and the narrow strips of vegetation that bordered the vast deserts East and West. Then there was the view of Cairo as the plane flew over the main part of the city to the airport just North of the city. She had not imagined the vast number of brown buildings. Lastly, the plane went to the West side of the city bringing her in the sight of the 3 pyramids and the Sphinx. "WOW!" she said out loud for the amusement of the passengers sitting near her. Even living in Aswan her entire life. she had never visited the Valley of the Kings. Hence, the first sight of the Paramids thrilled her. She made the mental note to visit the Valley once back in Aswan. The second flight was less dramatic for her with the exception of the Alps in France. She had never seen such terrain. Unfortunately, she saw little of London given the normal cloud coverage. And, she enjoyed the excellent cuisine of British Air in first class including fine Champagne.
Once landed, Peter took her by the arm to guide her through customs. She was a bit nervous anticipating the degree of interrogation being an Egyptian. However, Peter said that he would be by her side the whole time, and that she would by presented as his fiancée. He even had a ring to place on her left hand ring finger. She was thrilled with that gesture. There were no problems with Customs and then onto luggage. This was another amazement to her as to the infrastructure there with the numerous baggage carousels. Within 20 minutes they had their luggage and exited the airport for the limousine that Martha had ordered. She had never seen such a huge BMW that included champagne chilled in the back seat. The trip into London from Heathrow was also surprising to her: the traffic, the width of the major highways, the 2-tier buses, the crowding of huge buildings, the number of people, etc. She thought to herself: 'Will I be comfortable and fit into such an environment?' It was an hour before they reached her apartment that Martha had set up. They both departed the limousine with Peter giving an instruction to the driver to wait for his return; approximately 15 minutes. His flat was further into the center of London, but he had to get Shaymaa established for the evening. Peter carried her luggage up several steps of the townhouse that housed a number of apartments. He buzzed the Super and was soon met by Poppy, a rather plump, older lady with bright red hair (hence the name). With introductions made, the two followed Poppy to the 3rd floor to Shaymaa's flat. She gave Shaymaa the key and left with a jolly " Good Evening Deary." Shaymaa opened the door and entered the flat. Peter followed with the luggage and walked her through the flat. The far wall was solid glass with a small deck that overlooked the Thames. "WOW!" was Shaymaa's first response. "Shaymaa, this is your home for the next month or so. I know you will enjoy it. As I expect you are, I am also very tired and need to proceed to my house. You have my cell phone number, and you are to call me at anytime should you need my assistance. Breakfast will be available to you tomorrow morning down on the first floor. I will be back here at 10 to get you fully established." "Thank you Peter. I am very excited about this." He turned to exit. Without thinking, Shaymaa lightly grabbed his right side and hugged him with a kiss on the cheek. Peter turned to face her directly gently holding her face in both of his hands. He wanted to go further, but he backed off. He smiled and then "Goodnight Habibi", and he left closing the door behind him.
Shaymaa was quite tired, but she first sat on the patio drinking some tea that was available in the kitchen. As she looked at the expanse of the city across the Thames, she thought 'Did I go too far with that embrace and a kiss on the cheek?' That thought was followed by 'Did I not sense that Peter wanted to kiss me upon his departure?' This was new ground for her, and she shook her head saying out loud. "Be patient Shaymaa until there clearly is reality in this 'dream' of yours."
X. A Great Start
When Shaymaa woke up in the morning, it was still dark outside. Noticing the clock on the side of the bed, she realized that there was a 3-hour time zone difference between Aswan and London. But, she desired no more sleep. There was so much on her mind. So, she went to the deck to stretch and enjoy the reflection of the city lights on the Thames, followed by a sunrise bursting with alternating yellow and orange layers. It was so peaceful at that time compared to when she arrived the night before. She had two cups of tea before she headed to the shower. The strength of the water pressure and the multiple settings (she tried each) were so soothing to her that she lingered there for 20 minutes. Her father told her that the water anywhere in Europe was safe for her to drink, contrary to how Europeans are so restricted when in Egypt. Once dried off, she decided on slim cotton pants, a conservative blouse, and a casual blazer with an open front. On leaving her room at 8 for breakfast, she slowly rotated in front of the ceiling-to-floor mirror in the hallway to her satisfaction of how she was dressed. She expected that the shoes she had brought were most likely too casual, but shopping would soon fix that.
Upon entering the dining room she noted the 4 tables, each with two chairs. Shaymaa was warmly greeted by Poppy. "Good morning Deary. I hope you had a good rest after your long journey." Shaymaa smiled and nodded. "Please Deary, have a seat at this table. I will get you a cup of tea and water. There is cream and sugar here on the table if you require that." Without asking what Shaymaa would want for breakfast, Poppy continued. "Your breakfast will be out in shortly." As she waited for her breakfast, she checked her phone for messages hoping that it would work there; it did. While focusing on her messages from Jamila and Papa asking that she text tell them about her air travels, she felt a nudge at her right knee. She looked down and saw this most adorable, cream-colored dog sniffing at her pants and feet. It was a type of dog that she had never seen before. She petted the dog behind the right ear as it sat down next to her. Just as suddenly, she heard someone say, "Sorry Miss. That is Jazz who loves to meet people, especially lovely ladies as yourself." He paused. "My name is Brad, and Jazz and I have a room on the second floor." Startled somewhat by his sudden introduction, she turned from admiring the dog to face this most handsome man with a square jaw and penetrating blue eyes. She responded, "I am Shaymaa, and I am on the 3rd floor." "Very nice to meet you Shaymaa. I see you are waiting for your breakfast. May Jazz and I join you since we are confederates here? She did not know the word 'confederates', but she assumed it positive. "Yes, please." as Jazz snuggled closer to her knee. Quite surprising to her, Jazz then laid his chin on her lap with his eyes looking up at her. Shaymaa smiled and laughed softly. As Brad was sitting, Poppy approached the table. "Excellent, you two have met each other." "Sir Williams, here is your coffee. Do you wish the usual for breakfast?" "Yes, please Poppy." She replied," Lovely! I will serve you two together." as she headed back to the kitchen. Shaymaa restarted the conversation. "Is 'Sir' your first name?" He laughed gently. 'You are not from England, I expect?" "No, I am from Upper Egypt, Aswan specifically". "In England, 'Sir' is a title given to men of certain notoriety as to property or contribution to society ... like Sir Elton John." "Ah yes, of course. Are you a musician?" "No, my family has several estates across England, hence the title. So, is this your first day in England, Shaymaa?" "Yes. I am here for a month or so to begin a position in international marketing for a consulting firm here. I came directly from Aswan yesterday, and this is my first trip outside of Aswan actually." "Lovely. I guess based upon your stature and loveliness that you are Nubian." She smiled, biting her lower lip lightly. and tilting her head slighltly "Very good, SIR!" "I am somewhat familiar with your culture given a boat trip on the Nile from Cairo to Aswan that my family took when I was a teenager." At that moment, Poppy arrived with both breakfast plates. Shaymaa sat back in her chair as the plate was placed in front of her. It was a very generous portion of food including 2 sunny-up eggs, ham slices, a robust sausage, a grilled tomato, mushrooms, toast ... and beans (beans, really? she thought). Brad noticed the expression of distress on her face and said "Shaymaa, that is what is called a 'full English breakfast'. You are expected to eat it all to stay on the right side of Poppy." She uttered a sigh as she picked up her fork and knife. "Shaymaa, I will help you with 'cleaning' your plate on one condition." Looking up from the mass of food on the plate, "What is your condition?, most kind Sir!" she said with again a tilt of her head. "You will agree to have dinner with me in the next several days." Holding out her hand to shake, "It's a deal" They shook hands, and Brad reached across the table to relieve her of the beans, ham, and mushrooms by sliding them onto his plate of 2 poached eggs and rye toast. Even with that relief, she was stuffed by the end of breakfast.
Brad proceeded to ask a number of questions so as to know more about this most enchanting woman. Shaymaa felt at ease with this fellow and was gladly forthcoming with her responses. It was nearly 9:30 when Shaymaa glanced at her watch. Without having asked any questions of him, Shaymaa stated that she would have to leave at that point since her boss would be there at 10. Brad had one more question. "May I have your mobile number so as I can call you during the next several days to set up dinner plans? I know the perfect restaurant to take you to when you are available." "Ahhhh ... yes, of course, SIR!" and she scribbled the number on a napkin and handed it to him. She leaned down to pet Jazz that was now sprawled on the floor. With that she stood and walked out. Jazz didn't stir. She would learn at their forthcoming dinner that Brad's nickname for Jazz was 'Rug'. With her departure, Brad now saw her full figure and murmured, "absolutely lovely".
At 10 sharp, her flat phone range. It was Peter telling her that he was in the front room on the first floor and to meet him when she is ready. "I'll be right down Peter." She hung up the phone, freshened her face in the WC, and took the steps to the first floor. Peter was sitting on the leather sofa and stood to greet her. " A very good morning Shaymaa." They shook hands and both sat down on individual leather chairs across from a coffee table. Shaymaa started, Peter I love this place, including Poppy. She is quite sweet. I must say that the breakfast is very large that she served me this morning. Fortunately, another guest shared my plate." "Really, you made an acquaintance already? How typical of your wonderful personality." "Actually, to be truthful, he introduced himself to me. And, he had a most gorgeous, large, créam-colored dog named Jazz." "Ah yes, that would have likely been an English-creme Golden Retriever. That breed is very popular here." He was going to begin the conversation regarding her first day in the office. That is, until she purposely said the following. "That gentlemen, Sir Brad, was easy to talk with. In fact, he has invited me to dinner in the next several days." "Did you say SIR Brad? What was his last name?" "Well, Ms. Poppy referred to him as Sir Williams." Suddenly, Peter laughed out loud as he slapped his right knee with his right hand. "Shaymaa, that gentleman is one of our major, potential clients. In fact, myself and some of the staff, and now you, will be meeting with him next Wednesday on a major international marketing assignment in Saudi Arabia. I believe, Shaymaa, you have already proven your worth on your first day in the firm. We will talk about this meeting tomorrow. But, for now, I wish to get us off to a good start at the office. None of the team, except Martha and Sarah know that you will be there today." He paused, then, "THIS IS A GREAT START", and he laughed again. Peter's response to her mentioning the forthcoming dinner with Brad was not the one she expected. It certainly was not the one she desired.