Saturday, June 04, 2005

The survival of the cockiest

British humour which entails sarcasm to the extent described as ‘cocky’ is a deeply engrained cultural disposition and difficult to acquire. I’ve learnt two things about the importance of cockiness for the British species:

1. For each and every cocky remark, there is an equal and opposite cocky reply.

2. Cockiness is essential if u want to make it in a white-male dominated world. It is actually a yardstick for success.

There is a deeper reason behind this that reveals an important trait in the cocky-minded. Sarcasm requires a certain amount of sharpness, wit and quick judgment. Possessing this skill means that you can engage Brits in a conversation they find meaningful and entertaining. Even if it is a pile of tosh, the important thing is the ‘ability to converse’ in this manner. The epitomy of British cockiness was personified in the form of George Galloway a couple of weeks back whilst testifying in front of US senators, but programs like Have I Got News For You or even Prime-Ministers Question Time in Parliament would underpin the perfect course on how to improve your ‘cockiness in conversation’. Cockiness and its underpinning sarcasm is another British institution (other than penny-pinching). To be cocky or not to be cocky, that is the question.

Cockiness however, is considered an extremely undesirable characteristics in eastern cultures in general (except Egypt, Egyptians can be terribly cocky). I’m not sure what the Arabic word for it is but a local phrase often used in Bahrain is ‘lsaan toweel’ – long tongue. And if you’re deemed too cocky then u’d get chastised with the phrase, “lsanish yi7taj ga9” ie ur tongue needs to be cut. Cockiness verges on the common perception of rudeness and insult. Humour over here is a different paradigm all-together. This is a culture of gental joviality, mojamalaat, not one of quick comebacks.

(As an side, isn’t it ironic, I don’t know the Arabic translation of cockiness/sarcasm or the English translation of mojamalaat..a cultural clash for sure, someone plz help out!)

You maybe thinking why I’ve brought this topic up. Last week, in a coffee shop with some friends, to my left was seated an English patrician. Excusing himself to the bathroom he asked me to kindly look after his belongings. I naturally agreed. When he came back he decided to start a conversation. Although I rarely talk to strangers, this guy seemed a bit of a character, in his 60s, redevelops properties in the French riviera, with absolutely nothing in common with a twenty-something veiled arab woman. It was a bit of an effort to make idle chatter, but "min baab almojamala" as we say in arabic, or for the sake of common courtesy I made the effort. In the end out of no where he said this:

“I can tell you’re not going to be very rich, but you will have a very interesting life full of experiences ahead of you”

Although this remark isn’t cocky in itself, it was the way in which it was said. How the hell does he have the audacity to prophecy my life!!! So I asked him, “ and how did u reach that conclusion, by reading my eyes?”

“No, I do lips”

“Hmmmm” I thought to myself…how the hell do u read lips…bloody English cocky twat. Dismissing this remark and bidding him farewell, I left the place, but two weeks on, im still wondering why he consciously decided to make a point of the fact im not going to be rich. I don't think it was the ripped jeans or the old trainers that did it. Im not actually worried that i'll live in poverty my whole life and if it was an issue for me, there isnt a shortage of affluent men on bended knee. It really did feel like I was in a movie and the guy was some sort of messenger. Then again, its probably another cartload of cocky tosh I'm thinking too much into.

Posted by BB @ 6/04/2005 06:20:00 PM

Read or Post a Comment

Well, think about where that remark comes from. He's inherited his wealth, and if he's redeveloping properties on the French Riviera, he's not doing too bad himself.

He comes from a class of people who have been taught from day 1 to move their lips a certain way. So whether they're rich or not, they'll always act as if they are, and associate certain behaviors with a certain status.

For now, I'd read that as 'you won't be in his class', and that may not be the worst thing to happen, eh wot?

Posted by Blogger Desert Island Boy @ 6/04/2005 07:07:00 PM #

I would love to be a fly on your wall when you're 35, and dragging 4 or 5 children behind you and you still don't give a damn if you live your life in poverty.

THAT thought on your part was not just cocky, but too idealistic which you are not.

Confused motions and thoughts?

Most indubitably my dear.

Call me when you wake up, and good luck with the afluent men on bended knee too. Last I checked, there is a very high percentage of spinsters waiting for any schmuck on knock on their door in this country.

Time to wake up?

Most definitely!

Good luck in any case.

Posted by Blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif @ 6/04/2005 09:09:00 PM #

DIB, yeah ur right, i didn't think about it from that perspective...the social class divide

Mahmood, that was sarcastic... 'poverty' is a relative word, and i meant it in the 'not being rich' category. Thanks for the harsh comment though, guess I should have seen it coming.

Posted by Blogger Bahrania @ 6/04/2005 09:19:00 PM #

I'm sorry that you thought of it as both sarcastic and harsh. To me it was meant as points of discussions showing what I see here on the ground in Bahrain.

Bahrania, you are young and intelligent and I cannot believe that you would be too idealistic in this regard. Being poor is no joke, that is exactly the thing that we do not want our people to be, because with poverty you don't get education, you don't get opportunities and unfortunately you don't even get respect.

Even your notion of "no poor but not rich either" won't work. In order to succeed, one MUST unashamedly think of ways to better his or her circumstances, and in this day and age, that is to become richer, hence have a wealth of opportunities available to you.

Why else are you there, studying in one of the world's best universities? would you have had that opportunity if you were 'not being rich'? I dount it.

There is NOTHING wrong with wanting to be wealthy. Some greed is healthy, it spurs people on to be better. So don't be ashamed of your situation, but embrace it and try to bring more people into that circle so they too can experience the opportunities you have had.

Don't read this as a personal attack. Please. This is a discussion and I do not subscribe to the notions you have writen about. If you can convince me otherwise, I will humbly apologize.

Posted by Blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif @ 6/04/2005 09:40:00 PM #

mahmood, ur on the attack again defending you're capitalist views. If money drives people, I don't have a problem with that, its their choice and I wasn't arguing against that. Profit-maximising is a fact of life now which brings productivity gains whether I like it or not.

Personally, its not what drives me. I can't help it!! Secondly, please don't use my background against me, cos ur making assumptions.

However, this discussion isnt the point of debate AT ALL. I wasn't talking about poverty per se...which I totally agree with you about. And I didn't mean to treat it flimpantly or idealistically. And quite frankly, its unlikely i'll be begging on the streets, I think i know where u live now, and i'll be on ur doorstep :p

Posted by Blogger Bahrania @ 6/04/2005 10:08:00 PM #

ok I appologise for taking the discussion off topic.

you're MORE than welcome to visit and stay as long as you wish, it would be our pleasure!

Posted by Blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif @ 6/05/2005 08:54:00 AM #

Problems with the nafs really - As long as the persona cannot identify him/herself, then that becomes a problem for him/her. Indirectly, he's hinting at himself, so don't take it personally.

Take care,


Posted by Blogger AA @ 6/05/2005 09:48:00 AM #

If you haven't seen it already, you must go and rent out a French movie called "Ridicule".

It's set during the time of Louis XVI, and is about a noble from a village who goes to Versailles to speak to the king so he can ask him to fix the drainage problems in his village. But the only way anyone can get the attention of the king is to use a specific type of humour, "ridicule", to entertain him. So we see everyone at the royal court trying to out-ridicule each other in a battle to win the king's attention.

The French idea of "ridicule" isn't the same as the English concept of "cockiness", but its similar. I wonder is there are any similarities between the plot of the movie and what happens in the royal court on our island.

Posted by Blogger Chanad @ 6/05/2005 02:43:00 PM #

I mainly wanted to comment on the translation bit, but got “moved” by the discussion u had up there.

Well, as for the translation, I guess cockiness is “Waqa7a” or “fa’6a’6a” in Arabic. “Mojamala ” ,on the other hand, can be best translated to compliment, I suppose. Yet, I don’t think the word covers the insincere side of the praise given.

Now, and I hope I am not going personal here, I’ve always been wondering since the 1st time I came across your blog, what have been contributing to your level of knowledge and intelligence. You are doubtlessly one outstanding girl. I got to "discover" where you were studying which at the beginning made me assume “stuff” about your background. My “discovery”, along with my “assumptions” somehow justified my wonders. However, I still admire you for who you are and for utilizing your circumstances. You’re without doubt driven by other values.

I could be very wrong, anyway.
And if you don’t become rich, you’ll certainly make a difference :)

Posted by Blogger $iLveR GiRL @ 6/05/2005 05:14:00 PM #

AA,.. deep comment.... i'm still thinking... ur writing always leaves much to contemplate...thanks for passing...

Chan'ad, ur too cultured for me...french films ba3ad?! i'll keep an eye out sounds like an interesting theme though.

Silver girl, thanks for ur kind words, although i know u meant good, what annoys me is that even though i seek anonymity in this blog, ppl (u and mahmood) still insist in making 'assumptions' about who the blogger is, what their background is, what drives them etc etc. Maybe I should take some tips from Odd...

But anyways, waqa7a is a bit too strong i think for cocky...waqa7a means audacity i think... madree ba3ad... mojamala isn't just compliments..its like commom courtesy is based on fake compliments.

Posted by Blogger Bahrania @ 6/05/2005 05:54:00 PM #

"Maybe I should take some tips from Odd..." - You should!

As for the translations, it always devastates me to find a word that is difficult to translate. Does that mean that Pablo Neruda's poems aren't accurately translated?

What about religious matters? Does that mean that non-Arab speakers will never understand the deeper meanings of the Qur'an because of these words that are difficult or impossible to translate?

On the side - is there a word in English for "Ma'9loom" ?

Posted by Blogger Evil Odd @ 6/06/2005 09:54:00 AM #
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