Friday 4 March 2011

What the F are you looking at?

On my first year in London, as I walked down the streets something was always amiss, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, after a free make-up session at the Mac counter and a change into a newly purchased outfit, looking good I thought, strutting my stuff down the street it suddenly hit me. There was nobody checking me out, nobody whistling at me or complimenting me on my look or hurling abuse as I was accustomed to back in Algeria. I felt unspecial

After a few days and many years in the UK, I wonder how I ever withstood the male attention bestowed upon us females in Algeria. It is to say the least overwhelming, omnipresent, aggressive, flattering and chauvinistically sexist all at the same time.

It seems in England you get more attention from females than males, women look at each other, they eye each other up, scrutinise fashion sense, pick up make-up and style tips, sometimes they even stop you to ask you where you bought your coat from. Male attention however is harder to come by, the few times you probably were the subject of male attention or flattery is when you get stolen looks from fellow passengers on the trains but they swiftly look away when found out or maybe after dark and a few pints that allow our English friends to relax a little and loose their inhibitions sadly along with their senses, speech and bladder control in some cases.

In Algeria however, you are the centre of attention of many conversations, groups and  bystanders and by  bystanders I mean Hettiste (1) who casually hurl abuse at you because you are wearing something too short, too baggy or not at their “taste”, a Hettiste could flatter you with “AHHH Yal khshina”(2) (now I got this one when I had put on weight - refer to my previous blogs for details) , you could also get the usual “Bonjour” (3) which is really a trap if you don’t answer you feel bad as he was only being polite and if you answer you’ll never get rid of him, other new ways of flirting a l’algerienne are to casually slip into the conversation what car he drives, where he lives or what his mother does for a living!!! YEAH I am well impressed because your mother is a teacher or because you don’t live with your parents, well you’re 35, if you’re still living with mummy I would be concerned.

The thing about the Algerian way of approaching girls is its very direct, very Mediterranean, I saw it again in Spain, Italy and Turkey, a direct and clear approach, there is no doubt about the agenda, he wants to have you and in some cases he would quite clearly tell you what he would do to you should he get his hands on you – No thanks, other discreet and polite men just notice you but play the “game” by looking uninterested especially if he knows he’s good looking, you just hope when he opens his mouth he’s not going to have a high pitched voice, have bad teeth or ask you “Ca va” at least 6 times in a 5 minutes conversation.

The attention and constant stares can make you skip a step and fall, feel awkward but at the same they make you feel special and beautiful, however when you notice the subject of this attention and how it ranges from very attractive/out of their league to down right nasty you question they even have taste or if they should be a reliable judge for your gorgeousness.

We are now accustomed to walking down the street in London, merging into the crowds and acknowledge the attention we get in the same way we receive it – discreetly and I guess that when back back home and getting a lot of loud and unwanted attention, we just take it on the chin, smile if we will and take it as a compliment.

(1)   – Hettiste: Derived from the term Heet which means Wall, so a Hettiste is someone who stands by the wall and watches people walk by (because he has nothing better to do)
(2)   Yal Khshina – basically calling me fat…and desiring my curves I guess.
(3)   Bonjour – Bonjour


  1. la drague algerienne lol love-hate relationship.

  2. THIS is hilarious! I've never lived in Algeria, but I go there every summer...and I can never get used to the attention...I guess this summer it will be different because i'll be going with the hijab! ..And NOT the 'algerian hijab'...hahah you should write about that!

    Great blog anyway!!

    Salam sister xx

  3. @ Mimi: don't worry, you will still get unwanted attention with or without head covered
    Enjoy :)

  4. what's the Algerian hijab? like hijab with shorts?

  5. Algerian Hidjab is a headscarf worn with tight jeans! but that is a generalisation.

  6. lol @ bonjour = bonjour

  7. Ohhhh el Habayeb :) Glad 2 know u, however, I am Sofiane from Bab El Oued, 36 y/o, sngl...happy 2 join this blog.
    NB: DZ-Chick anmout 3lik

  8. Hello sofiane! Sorry you forgot to complete the formulaire
    Eye colour:
    Birth marks:
    What you consider to be your greatest quality:

    Lol thanks Sofiane de BEO


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