Bowling for Egyptians

22 Sep

Oh my friends, there are times in life where you wish you had a magic camera that would capture a certain experience and an atmosphere so you could keep it forever and share it with those you love. A camera that would take in not only the sights and sounds but the mood and surrealness of such an experience. Thursday night I would have given anything for that magic camera, because, dear friends, I want to share with you the total mind-blowing experience that is…Egyptian bowling.

That’s right, bowling, that beloved ancient pasttime of sweaty middle-schoolers and women named LaVerne. Last night we went out with a few friends to a bowling alley here in Maadi. We figured it would be a relatively easy thing to do, it couldn’t be that different from bowling in America, right?

The bowling alley looked just like any we’ve been to in the States, with the added bonus of murals of Clint Eastwood and RoboCop staring down at us from the walls. The place wasn’t too crowded and we were set up in a lane that seemed harmless enough. There seemed to be mostly families there, parents with their little kids. So we set to bowling.

We played a few frames, quickly establishing that my game sucks in any language and Patrick bowls the same way he holds his fork, monkey-like but with good results. Our mad skills were soon overshadowed. Literally. The lights on our alley started going out and we soon found that our lane was possessed by a poltergeist that would put down the bar as the ball started rolling, or pins would just disappear as the bowler waited for the chipped dirty ball to come back through the chute. Sometimes if a bowler had knocked down most of the pins and was getting ready to bowl again, the poltergeist arm would kindly put all the pins back up again. It became quickly apparent that either our lane was just wacky or Egyptian bowling designers just didn’t know how the game worked. It was like Super Mario Bros with bonus points popped up here and there. We were constantly flagging down the manager to fix it. At some point he just shrugged and said “move to another lane.” Didn’t he understand that Americans are hyper-competitive and not inclined to give up their scores halfway through a game?

So that was the actual bowling part of it. What made it much more interesting was the fact that we were soon surrounded by what felt like two hundred Egyptian boys who thought bowling=waiting until a pasty American was about to pitch a heavy ball and then jumping in front of said American and having a wrestling match, or break-dancing, or pitching his little Egyptian self down the well-oiled lane. This plus poltergeist lane plus Arabic disco music plus little boys streaking by at break neck speeds made for a bizarre situation, one of those where you start giggling and just can’t stop. We watched, not phased at all by this point, while boys group-bowled. Picture the bumble bee swarm soccer style of American kids. Now apply it to bowling. Yes, exactly. One massive bubbling group of boys running full speed at the lane to deliver one bowling ball (and sometimes an unfortunate boy who stepped over the line) careening down the lane (not always their lane though, in fact, after the novelty of making the ball jump into other people’s lanes wore off, they decided to try rolling the ball as hard as they could on top of the gray chute that sends the ball back.)

The experience became too surreal and we couldn’t take anymore. As we were getting ready to leave, I noticed the tired lane worker mosey over to the ball chute next to us, dismantle it and open it up, and with an expression that clearly showed this was not the first time he’d done this, carefully extricate a little boy’s shirt and hand it back to said boy, who immediately threw it on and ran back to the lane where he was demonstrating to his friends how to shot-put a 14 lb ball.


9 Responses to “Bowling for Egyptians”

  1. DaD September 23, 2007 at 2:00 am #

    Sounds like fun.
    When in Egypt ….. bowl like an Egyptian.
    I once saw a monkee bowl when I was a kid. (yeah in the early sixties) Never forgot it.
    (Patrick you might concentrate on the knees.)
    Glad to hear there’s more to Egypt than school and spies.


  2. Aunt Yvette September 24, 2007 at 2:47 am #

    This is completely politically incorrect, but I hear the the bowling activities that my x-students used to attend were very similar. I am not indicating that the children that were there had subaverage IQ’s though.

  3. Aunt Yvette September 24, 2007 at 2:50 am #

    i have horrible spelling and grammer on the computr. I haven’t figurd out how to spell check when writin on a bloggg.

  4. uncle Joel September 24, 2007 at 5:17 am #

    Hi Patrick & Melissa!, I have been hesitant to respond to your Blogs. I feel that my response may sound like it was written by the guy at the corner of Ahmose & Cleopatra, your local camel wash & lube…. Betty and I totally enjoy reading your new life expierences. Keep up the good work. Love, Uncle Joel & Aunt Betty ( we pray for the three of you daily)

  5. Melissa September 24, 2007 at 1:20 pm #


    It’s good to hear from everyone, please don’t be too shy to comment. Every comment is a little thrill for us.

  6. Aunt Yvette September 26, 2007 at 2:10 am #

    Have you tried the local food yet? waiting on something from ya’ll in that area. Also, do you have cows milk? or is it yak, camel, or goat. I heard that yak cheese is quite popular in the mediterranean area. Just wondering.

  7. mom September 26, 2007 at 3:57 am #

    Ok, well you need to answer Yvette because I don’t do yak or camel. Do I need to take my own freeze-dried packs of milk for latte or what? Any $5bucks around?

    And Mel you need to share your snorkeling while pregnant in the Red Sea and sailboating on the Nile experiences on your blog, not just with your dad. My overworked and too-many-students-frazzled-inquiring mind wants to know: Did the florescent fish act holy? I mean this is the Red Sea you’re talking about! Did you see any chariot remnants? Oh wait, that was Charlton Heston. Sorry wrong blog.

    Oh and I have a new one for my book: Ready? “I wasn’t rolling my guys at you, Mrs. DeLeon!”

  8. Kay September 26, 2007 at 4:05 pm #

    Wait–Charlton Heston has a blog! Mrs. DeLeon you must share!

    Thank you Melissa for painting such a vivid picture.

  9. Melissa September 26, 2007 at 5:53 pm #

    You guys are too funny!

    I hope I haven’t had yak milk. The cheese here tastes a little funny though…

    I’ll definitely have to tell you about the food here or at least the grocery store, that’s quite an experience. Look for it in a future blog. And Mom, don’t worry, there’s no $5Bucks but there is NO shortage of coffee places. I think you’ll be pleased.

    Once we can post pictures, I’ll put up the Red Sea.

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