Years ago my friend was injured in a serious riding accident when a horse fell on her in the desert. In recent years she hasn't done a lot of riding, so we were taking it easy on our way through the countryside to a place where we could loop back through the desert from the pyramids at Abu Sir. Moving along a trail behind my house, we met up with a young girl, probably about 12 years old or so, riding a small white donkey. I've met this girl many times before in the area and just as before she asked me hopefully, "Baksheesh?" Baksheesh is Arabic for "tips", or as it is usually used, a handout.
When I first started riding in the countryside where there are always lots of children and farmers, I was warned that I would be harassed for baksheesh. One of my neighbours went with me the first few times as I was walking a mare who needed rehabilitation on firm ground rather than the sand of the desert. Seeing kids asking for baksheesh every so often, he suggested that I take a bag of sweets or something with me, but I vetoed the idea. My theory was that if the kids learned from day one that I never gave anyone anything, after a while they would stop bothering me.
I chose to handle the situation with conversation and jokes. When the children would ask for baksheesh I would turn to them as if I'd never thought of it before and say "Yes, please. I really need five (or ten or fifty) pounds. I'm completely broke." They were usually so stunned at hearing this from a foreign woman that they would stand there with their mouths hanging open. Any listening adults generally fell about laughing. After over five years of practice, the children do know that there really isn't any point in asking, but some of them do anyway. One group in a particular village do it just to hear their mothers laugh at them when I ask them for money instead. Once in a while I will explain patiently that there is no point in my carrying money while riding since there are no stores on the trails and nothing to buy. Funny how this point has seemed to escape my questioners and when the idea sinks in, they are a bit embarassed.
So there we were facing this young girl on her donkey and for the millionth time (she's a bit slow on the uptake) I was explaining that I don't carry money when I ride horses. Puzzled, she looked at us and asked rather plaintively "Wa entu khawagat lay?" which is roughly "So why are you foreigners anyway?" We looked at each other and burst out laughing to the total bemusement of our young donkey rider. You know, after all these years, we really didn't have an answer for that one.