Archive | August, 2007

I’ve made a breakthrough!

27 Aug

This morning after Patrick headed to campus for orientation, I got up and headed towards the market to pick up a few things for dinner and check out a cell phone store we had heard about. To get to the market, I walk 15 minutes through shady streets, dodging taxis and avoiding stepping on the dog tails hanging out from underneath parked cars. Sometimes there’s a sidewalk, more often there’s not. Along the way I usually pass about a couple dozen people, women coming back from the market and kids riding bikes. Mostly though, I pass men, lots of them. Each building has a doorman, a boab, who sits in front of his building chatting with other boabs. On sidewalks or benches, elderly men gather in groups of two or three and quietly sit and watch the neighborhood wake up.

Being a stranger in a strange land, I’ve kept my head down and my eyes averted when I pass the many people on the street, especially the men. I don’t know if they want me there or if any acknowledgment on my part would be inappropriate. Sometimes I give a head nod, but never a smile. I just don’t want to convey anything that might be offensive or construed as an invitation. Usually I get a stoic look back and I move on, sure that they just want me to go on about my business so they can go on about theirs.

This morning before I left the house, I decided to try an experiment. Continue reading

Friday is the new Sunday

25 Aug

-or, Three Cheers for Religious Freedom

-or, The Spies Who Fellowshipped Me

Christian churches here, including our own, go with the local culture and hold services on Fridays, the day that Muslims go to the mosque for prayer. So Friday is the new Sunday. It will be weird for three reasons: 1) it’s Friday, not Sunday; 2) we’ll go to church on the first day of the weekend (so I guess now Thursday is the special day we get ready for Friday); and 3) this will really throw a wrench in my usual Thursday night drunken debauchery, as now I have to wake up for church the next morning. Continue reading

A Slice of Life

22 Aug

Today we find ourselves trying out the routine that we forsee living once we settle in here. Patrick got up this morning and after a bowl of bland Egyptian cornflakes, picked up his leather Indiana Jones professor bag and set off down the dusty street to catch the Metro and go in to the University. I watch him from our huge bay window, still in my pajamas with a glass of apple juice in my hand. The flat was suddenly quiet and I find myself wondering what to do next. I stay at the window and look around the street. The skinny dogs with crazy eyes that wander freely are fighting for napping spots underneath cars. Across the street, a pristine sand colored mosque rises in front of the distant apartment buildings. I’ve never seen anyone go in or out, but yesterday there were a few little girls playing in front of it. There are boys riding up and down the streets on their bikes, blowing air horns and laughing as people walking by jump. Continue reading

We have arrived!!!

20 Aug

…and we’re in Egypt. After a lovely time in England and Ireland, we finally got around to actually moving to Cairo. We arrived here late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, stumbled slowly off the plane…and then life started moving very fast. We were whisked through customs and security by a spry old man from AUC named Abdul who did a little wink wink action to cut the red tape. He helped us with our bags and loaded us on to a van where we were held in an uncomfortable standoff with young men demanding “baksheesh” or tips for carrying our bags before we could stop them. We stood our ground though and soon found ourselves careening through Cairo traffic at warp speed. As Patrick has mentioned, lanes are merely a suggestion here. Even at 3 am, the streets were packed with cars and groups of people just hanging out. I think we both thought we might die before we even reached our apartment. Continue reading