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post on the occasion of Eid

I'm not Muslim, but the fact that people in my online spheres are celebrating Eid reminds me of a time, many years past, when our phone number was the same as the phone number of a mosque in Quincy, Massachusetts--but with two of the digits reversed.

It took us a while to realize what was going on. All of a sudden one day, phone calls started coming in asking us when the sun was setting. And other calls began with the greeting salaam alaikum, which I hazily recognized for what it was, though I didn't know how to respond. Finally one day someone asked, "Is this the mosque in Quincy?" We called information and asked for the phone number for the mosque in Quincy, and everything became clear.

From then on, it was easy enough to say to callers, "Oh, you must want the Quincy mosque," and give them the correct number. Regarding the time of sunset, I remember thinking it would be handy just to have the information present--save people making another call--and I have some vague and confused memory of somewhere, somehow obtaining it on a small card, but I'm not sure that I actually did, and if I did, I'm pretty positive I never had the nerve to actually volunteer it.

The most memorable conversation was one call that went like this.

Caller: "Hello, I need to speak to the imam."

Me: "I'm sorry, but this isn't the mosque. That number is [number]"

Caller: "No, but I just have one question, which maybe you can help me with."

Me: "I really think--"

Caller: "Is there a fee for remarriages?"

Me: ". . . I think you'll need to ask the imam."

Eid mubarak, for those celebrating.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 28th, 2014 01:20 pm (UTC)
It can be very odd to get phone calls intended for someone else. A number of years ago, a technical school in El Paso printed an add in the paper and got some of the digits wrong, resulting in my parents' home phone number. And, then they did it again. Let's just say my dad wasn't amused.
Jul. 28th, 2014 01:47 pm (UTC)
I wonder if that error was the paper's or the technical school's. It behooves the school to give out the right number! They're trying to get students.
Jul. 28th, 2014 02:43 pm (UTC)
I agree. My dad said he'd called the school and that they knew of the error and didn't care. I figured he just never spoke to the right person. But, it certainly seemed that someone was being unprofessional.
Jul. 28th, 2014 01:32 pm (UTC)
My apartment in Dongguan had a very similar number to someone else's. I have no idea whose, though. I was VERY unhelpful, though I tried not to be. Putonghua was not the first language of anyone who talked on that line, though, and the people who called were, understandably, not very patient.
Jul. 28th, 2014 01:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you were in a much worse situation!
Jul. 28th, 2014 02:01 pm (UTC)
Phone Numbers
Well done.
We used to get "Baby Calls" from children who had the parent's phone as a distraction and with random phone button pushes - there we were speaking to a VERY young person.
Jul. 29th, 2014 12:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Phone Numbers
That sounds rather charming and delightful, actually! If only one didn't worry that somehow the parents would, conversely, get mad at you for listening in on/talking to their kids!
Jul. 28th, 2014 02:08 pm (UTC)
Our number used to be close to that of a local taxi company which could be a pain!

The neighbours immediately across the road are from Bangladesh, here at uni and have been celebrating Eid today. :o)
Jul. 29th, 2014 12:16 pm (UTC)
Ouf, yes, having your number be like a taxi company's number must have ensured late-night and drunken calls :-(
Jul. 29th, 2014 12:59 pm (UTC)
It did!
Jul. 28th, 2014 02:28 pm (UTC)
The proper response for "salaam alaikum" is "wa alaikum salaam", at least, insofar as I remember from my trip to Egypt over a decade ago.
Jul. 29th, 2014 12:17 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I asked a friend for the response at some point (but was still shy to say it).
Jul. 28th, 2014 04:07 pm (UTC)
People can be so focused when they've geared themselves up to make a phone call, they won't even let reaching the wrong number dissuade them! *lauhgs*
Jul. 29th, 2014 12:18 pm (UTC)
We figured maybe the guy thought he'd gotten a secretary's number or something.
Jul. 28th, 2014 04:08 pm (UTC)
My friend in Linkoping got the number that was earlier a pizzeria. He said he was often sorely tempted to tell callers their pizza was ready..or worse...but he manfully desisted.

In the age of the internet..and Apple...you are probably i-Ma'am!
Jul. 29th, 2014 12:19 pm (UTC)
i-Ma'am! You're amazing, deponti. That's quite excellent :D
Jul. 28th, 2014 07:11 pm (UTC)
I get that a lot, the "I know you're a wrong number now, but maybe you can help anyway." Why, sure, if you want a completely random, uninformed answer! I'm a pet sitter, Jim, not a veterinarian!
Jul. 29th, 2014 12:21 pm (UTC)
Seeing as people turn to Magic 8-Balls for advice, a random stranger might be a step up! At least pet-sitter is in the same *genre* as veterinarian. If they were asking you for insurance quotes, it would be another matter.
Jul. 29th, 2014 06:51 am (UTC)
An interesting question but you don't have enough details to comment. If the caller meant that he had given one talaq to his wife and had subsequently changed his mind then it's fairly straightforward unless because of the past experiences they want something more solid built into the Nikah maybe a putative returnable dowry which would mean if he divorced her again he would have to pay her whatever sum that was. Or perhaps his wife would like a clause added into the Nikah that she either party can terminate the Nikah but if she did avail herself of the clause it might complicate a farther remarriage if they changed their minds again. However if he means that he had given a three fold irrevocable talaq then you really want to sound like a mechanic just before he launched into one about how he doesn't have the parts it's gonna cost a fortune and in any even it's not going to be ready today. Although there was a service available discrete mind semi-official which did cater for such circumstances not strictly wife swapping more a sort of way of returning some face to men who find themselves in such a predicament and no we can't discuss this over the phone. But as one of your responders said you shouldn't really be taking Shariah advice from someone who doesn't really know anything about the Shariah wouldn't it be better to consult with your Imam. Unless you meant Iman and if she is involved I'm interested again do tell me more. I would give you an update on the whole spy master saga is there a trial isn't there are there two and her recent letter to me I know the irish recipient got their's a few days back but you is farther off and I knew I should have checked the address she wrote but i'm a more quick draw speed is better kind of chap. But I know talk like that disturbs the harmony of your vale. So I won't.
Jul. 29th, 2014 12:24 pm (UTC)
Now imagine if the guy had gotten you on the phone :-) He might have had his answer after all!

I've been checking my mail, and believe me, I'll let you know as soon as anything arrives! International mail to me always seems unwarrantedly slow, but I just got a package from China that the sender was getting worried about, and a package from Pakistan that both the sender and I had given up on did at last arrive too. I have faith the letter will get here.

Aug. 1st, 2014 04:27 pm (UTC)
First, thank you for the Eid wishes! I wish I'd seen this before but we were out of town. We took a road trip to my grandmother's and did a bunch of sightseeing.

Second, I love this story, especially the last bit about the remarriage conversation! At one point, my mom's cell number was one number off from the post office, and she would get calls going there all the time, and it wasn't until we made the mistake ourselves that we realized why! That used to be funny. :)

Aug. 2nd, 2014 07:57 pm (UTC)
You are very welcome! I hope the sightseeing was fun.

Having a number one off from the post office must have been interesting too--did you have people calling in to stop their mail?
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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