Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lyon day 119

Tuesday LYON

well, actually, I'll start with a quick Monday night. Dinner at Antoine's. His dad, mom and sister were there. Thibault arrived an hour after me, around 20h15. Since I last saw him, Antoine started a 'real' job in a laboratory analyzing water. It's not paid as well as his job at the library but, or course, it's what he likes and it's in his field of study. He's being trained in a variety of specialties as well. This is the kind of job that trains you for a few years, if that, for you to then go on to something that requires more experience, thus more pay. So yea, he managed his time pretty well. He worked at that library place until he found a real job, keeping a steady income, all while living with his parents and keeping expenditure low. smart kid. :-)
I turned antoine to my yoghurt currency :-) he kept on joking about how many yoghurts something costs. :-) fun kid
they also showed me Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare, which is an awesome game. ULTRA realistic and super well done. The first mission is like BLOW your mind away.
well, cool night. And then Thibault and I hung out more at his place... showed me some of the pictures from his past semester, exchanged some stories about the girls in our lives... fun stuff. and when internet was finally back online again I got some emails done.

We went to an old teacher's place around 17h30. Mr. Montanari. Super nice, spent a nice time, listening to his stories of high school. Saw Elsa and Emmeline again for the first time in a long time.
Loic drove me back over to Pauline's place because he was going back home anyway to study. This was fun. Lucie and Pierre were there. I enjoyed talking to them. We made crepes. Of course I ate way too many which subsequently put me into a food coma for the rest of the night (anne-claire's) at which were Florent and Philomene.
Antoine got a freak migraine attack right before Montanari's so he missed out on all of this. i hope he' s better by tomorrow for the party.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day 118 Gap--> Lyon

Gap--> Grenoble--> Lyon
again, woke up really late/discovered that the alarm does not go off on my ipod touch if it is turned off.
Finished the last stages of the shaving of my super developed beard, which I really miss.
Oh, and had waaaay too much bread from one of those huge bread balls that are deelicious and only cost 7 euros. Tartines covered in lavender honey, nutella, butter... hmm... and made some egyptian Aroza tea for my sister and I. messed up on the proportions though, should have only used one teaspoon of tea per cup, instead used two.

To be honest, and not meaning to sound so maudlin :-), goodbyes sucked. Well at least partially.
I remember I used to be all tough about stuff like this -perhaps I still am.
But more precisely, goodbyes with my Grandma were sad. Goodbyes with the rest of my family were fine, carried out in alacrity -especially with uncle Alain, he asked me to get some sand from Egypt for a friend of his who collects sands, and my sister who asked me for an advance birthday "present" ($$) so she could buy a purse she likes...
Yes, saying adieu to my grandma was actually quite sad. When I said we would see each other again soon, she replied "si dieu le veut" (if god wills it) in a pretty dejected way, to which I replied "inch'allah" -Getting the feeling someone might be gone before you see them again, is not something I can deal with as easily as simple farewells.

Overall, I'm very very happy with my five-day-long stay in Gap. I'm really happy that I came there for Christmas and very happy I left a day after was planned, even if I missed a nice "apero" with some friends from Lycée. I realized that Christmas, holds a very important symbolic importance to me. A symbol of family and being together with the ones closest to you. I find it funny that Alain's dad and my Grandma have probably spent all of their christmases with at least one of their children. I think I will be spending Christmas together with family for the next five years at least.
So, despite my French family being chaotic, I am very pleased with my Christmas spent in France. No regrets as far as Bethlehem goes...

That reminds me, one last thing for now. At midnight mass, both priests (the one giving the sermon and the one I talked to after mass) claimed that Bethlehem [in arabic, Bait Lehm (بيت لحم)] means house of bread. I still have to look up where they might be getting that, because in church, I laughed (at least I was paying attention) because in Arabic 'bait' means 'house' and 'lehem' means 'meat'... something to work out...

day 117 Gap

Sunday Gap

Three days after xmas

reaaaally lazy day.
went to see a movie, secret defense in the town center. pretty good. fun because some of it was in arabic. About an biochemical terrorist attack on France and its dismantling. More than 15 terrorist attacks have been stopped by the french secret services since 9/11, according to the last sentence of this movie... "une solution..."

At home finished reading what I deemed fit in the december issue of le monde diplomatique. It's quite good, I think I'll buy the January issue if it comes out while I'm here. I also want to get a copy of "le canard enchainé" because it was cited in one of the souces in the monde and because my uncle robbie used to read it religiously.
Also, started watching Paradise Now in Arabic with English subtitles.
Also started putting my ipod to use with Arabic podcasts from

Leaving for Lyon tomorrow. Being welcomed by a nice meal at Antoine's. Thibault will be there as well. Should be good times, let'em roll.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Day 116 Gap

Saturday Gap

two days after xmas.

woke up at 7h for a head start on a day of skiing. Woke up all of my cousins soon thereafter. We only left from the house at 9h30 though. Still got a good day of skiing in. By the time we rented everything and were on the slopes, it was only 10h30. Rather impressive given the size and inertia of our delegation.
Leopold took an hour long lesson. After lunch he came with us which was slightly annoying but made fun anyway by my sister and I distracting ourselves from the slow pace by playing tag. I ran into her and made her fall once. We also kinda sandwich a poor innocent lady.
One noteworthy event: on a two person ski lift, I started talking to a man from Marseille. First I told him about my Marseille argot book that I got for xmas. Then I told him I'm from Chicago and it turns out he's a Cubs fan. Totally french, but a total cubs fan. He got a subscription to a US sports channel just to watch them. And he just sorta got turned on to them. Partly because they're such underdogs. So funny happening, it's a globalized world?... sorry for the redundancy...

tonight, raclette. soooo yummy, I prepared the cheese. couldn't help but eat a few pieces from each of the three... life's good.

Day 115 Gap

Again, coffee in bed. I love my aunt.

For breakfast, I had a few tartines. But the time had come to summon the mustard from Ghent. I ate a few tartines with it and Camembert. This made me cry a number of times equal to the number of tartines I ate.

Dad got his christmas present. I know because he sent me an email telling me how happy he was with it.
Sat around and read the newspaper. underlined some words I need to look up and go over.

might i mention that my little terrorist cousins were out for the afternoon so the house was really peaceful. Around16h my aunt and I left to go return a few things and also to find a book I wanted to get for my sister for xmas called "la couronne verte" ( we could not remember this title, but I described the plot to the woman working there and she was able to find it... some people... :)

cool thing: My aunt and I go for a beer in a Irish pub to chat a little. We talked about my grandma, she's been living here in Gap for some time now, since November I think, with my family and might be needing to move in permanently, not just for the winter, sometime soon, or into an apartment she bought in Gap. We talked about my sister, how she has practically no memory of our mom, or how my aunt doesn't feel connected to her. Right at this moment, my sister pops her head into the little corner we were sitting in and then runs of. She was looking for the bathroom and had not seen us. So then we got up to see what was up. They were there in the bar, drinking hot chocolate with this ex of Emma's. Guillaume. we heard a lot about him over the summer... or made fun of him a lot... not sure which as they got confused in my head.
anyway, we stopped by at their table as we left. Said hello. Guillaume felt pretty awkward when Aunt/da mom came over. anyway, funny coincidence.

later that night we went ice skating. It was fun being in charge, getting everyone to leave on time so they'd get to bed early for our day of skiing tomorrow. and here I am, up until 2am... such a hypocrite.

a plethora of entries

Day 114 Gap

Man did it feel good to be with family on Christmas. Last night we had a delicious meal. Oysters, foie gras. delicious, what more could I ask for?

Also got a cool gadget from my dad and myself, an ipod touch. have been fooling around with it quite a bit and it's very fun.

i think everyone was very happy with their presents. DragonballZ has been secretly my favorite these past two days even though it's leopold's. I'm going to miss it...

oh, and it's nice having coffee served to you in bed.

Well, it only took me about 30 minutes to switch out from "ana assif" mode into "Oh pardon" mode when bumping into people in the streets here in Europe.
However, I think, never, again, I hope not, will I be able to switch back into "cross streets when cars are NOT speeding at you" mode.

Day 113 Paris 9h38 ---> Gap 16h30

On the Paris-Grenoble train ride I was surrounded by beautiful people, namely a baby whose cuteness was only intensified by his adorable rapport with his mother (totally attractive in a motherly way). omg he just burped up this lovely white liquid all over his shirt and mom's sleeve and was just waiting to get it cleaned up. SO BADASS.

Read the copy of le monde that I picked up yesterday and worked on a Sudoku in vain. Read a few things in Le Monde, namely that:

-In Mozambique: "Et Albertina Bivea sait desormais faire de la confiture a partir de la patate orange. 'C'est vraiment bon, et mes huit enfants adorent ça', dit-elle."

-Francois Mitterand was a badass whose chef, Daniele Depluche, should be studied for all those applying to become my grandmother.

-both Washington (C. Rice) and L'Elisé (N. Sarkozy) estiment qu'il serait légitime d'examiner l'entée du Brésil au Conseil de sécurité, dans le cadre d'une "réforme globale" de l'ONU" (p.8)

Seeing family again will be nice. The whole hectic, crazy, but somehow functional Luyten family vibe definitely came off on the phone when I called them to ask to be picked up.

Day 112, Brussels,
What a bitch! it is to deal with train tickets when you're buying them at the last minute!...
Finally arrived in Paris. I called stephana and Doumitra to see if they could hang out for a bit, unfortunately they were both out of town. I might see Doom when I come back through though. Gave them a thorough phone-bisous session and headed to Cat & Pat's.
When I arrived they were drinking Champaign... so nice. We also ate some salmon on little tartines of bread covered in either soja sauce or salted butter. Man do I love

day 111 Ghent

Ghent. What a nice town. The people seem welcoming and in places cozy.
Unlimited ribs =pork. I really don't know why Muslims have not moved on and began to eat delicious pork. Two hoofed animals are sooooo in now-a-days.

writing this in the Brussels airport while waiting for my baggage in front of the conveyor belt. Met a nice 28 year old who still smelled like wiskey from her night before. God do I smell, I really need to buy some deoderant... jeese, this bag is takning a while but i still recognize people from the airplane so I don't feel lost yet.
That wine on the airplane was a good idea. I wish I remembered the 28 y-o's name. Hopefully I'll meet her again in Cairo at nightspots. I should really turn on my phone but I really don't feel like it. Maybe techonlogy shouldn't have anythign to do with this one.
At least the Cairo international airport had FREE wireless internet.

I've probably missed my bag like 3 times already although that's surprising judging by this shit that i'm writing... let it FLOOOW
oh! there it is!
picked all 16 kgs of it up with one hand and my mac in the other. I have a HUGE adrenaline rush and my heart is THUMPING off the charts.
maybe this is the start of a new blog profusion, now that Maggie's got picked up and she wrote about me in hers...
time to go meet what's coming!

This evening I ate a delicious meal at a Franco-Greek restaurant in Brussels on rue de Flandres/ Vlamsesteeweg. J'ai choisi un menu a la carte commencant par des cuisse de grenouilles (la premiere fois que j'en mange), suivit d'un HOMARD? au Poireaux avec en dessert une patisserie greque a base de miel. Delicieux, puis un acceuille chaleureux en plus... j'ai finit par faire la bise au proprietaire/serveur et salue sa femme qui etait dans la cuisine...

day 108
woke up at 10h even though I had set my alarm for 11. couldn't sleep any more. feeling slightly depressed. tried to stay busy. couldn't. tried to sleep. couldn't. called Angela to see if I could come over to use her internet. Anyway, internet was down for all of TEdata's users all across egypt. Supposedly the same thing happened in February, for three weeks, all of Africa had no internet because of a severed cable connnecting Europe to Africa...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cairo Day 102

did homework until I went out to talk with Atef. got back and did more homework. tried calling tareq to meet up for foosha talk tomorrow but his phone was off. Also got a call from Luther who wanted to meet up for me to visit his architecture firm.

on the minibus ride to tahrir a niqabi woman gave me a small orange book entitled "protecting/making chaste the muslim". Atef thinks she gave it to me thinking I'm muslim, mislead by my beard.

Splurged on two irfas with atef and two hawaushees (which is finally open, after about 6 days of vacation) by myself around 22h.
The problem with anything less than three hawauwshees is that you eat them before you even have time to get back to your apartment. Just too good.
Jeremy and I both agree that koshary and hawaushee would be perfect college food to export to the US.

يوم السبت

فعلت الوجبات حتى حرجت مع عتف لالمحادثة. رجعت إلى شقتى و فعلت وجبات اكثر. حاولت اتصل بطارق لتقابل لفصحى ولكن هاتف المحموله كان مغلق. كما لوثر من سنت كثرينز اتصل بي لان يريد ان نقابل فازور شركته المهندس المعمارية.

في الطريق إلى عتف، بنت نقابي عتيتني كتايب اسمه "حصن المسلم" . عتف يفكر برتوقال و ممكن هي فكرت انا مسلم بسبب لحيتي.

اليوم اشتريت قرفتين مع عتف و هواوشيتين بنفسي في سعة ٢٢ بالمساء (الحمد لله، هو مفتوح بعد ست ايام اجازية)
المشكلة مع أقل من ثلاث هواوشيات هو التى تأكل كلحم قبل ان الرجع إلى البيت. لذيذ قوى. جريمي و انا ينتفاقوا في كشري و هواوشي سينجحهوا جيد جدا في الجمعات امريكيون.

Cairo day 101


Homework day, until Ashref called me to go to Alexandria for xmas carols. This was really fun except for the bus rides there and back. Although the whole thing only cost me about 60 pounds.

يوم الجمعة

يوم الوشجبات، حتى اتصل بى اشرف لالذهب إلى يسكاندريا لالغناء جماعي في مكتب اسكاندريا. كان ممتع جدا إلا الركوب الميكروبوس. برغم أنه كل الرحلة فقد ثمنني ستين جبيه فقط.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cairo Day 100

Jeremy's last day

Before class, Jeremy and I visited the Citadel, and Ibn Tulun Mosque. The Citadel was nothing special and 25LE. I was not that impressed by Muhammad Ali Mosque.

Ibn Tulun, on the other hand, never fails to impress me. I discovered a 2km frise of the koran encircling the mosque. ALSO, the freaking MINARET was open! I did not know this is open to visitors! We also walked on the roof top. So cool. I think Ibn Tulun is my favorite place in Cairo.

Went to class. Heba is so alseep these days. She's boring and it doesn't make class very dynamic.

Came back home for about an hour. Took J to my local ahwa. He met Islam which was nice. had him try a plain sheesha and a shai along with another turkish coffee.

Then we flew over to al-Azhar park. Watched the sunset and listened to Cairo's calling to the prayer. Hung out in Khan for a bit, 'raced' back home by metro, bought a blank dvd on the way and packed stuff. He gave me his Fordors guide to Egypt which was so good that it would not put me to nap as I was hoping. I did, eventually, fall asleep. only to wake up at 2am with a big FUCK! I was not 5 hours late to a going away party. oh well, went anyway. Had fun, met some cool french/libyans. Might be going to a party with them on Sunday.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cairo Day 99


Hung out with Jeremy Baraka, downtown, khan. We would have seen the whirling dervises but they were on vacation for Eid. Ashref and Ahmed came a little later. We came across a book store that engraves things on the covers of books.
I went home early but Jeremy and co stayed out late. I think they went to the Odeon hotel and tried to find Valium...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cairo day 98


Had the day off because of Eid. Visited the Egyptian Museum with Jeremy. This was better than I thought, there were more explanations than I expected. We spent about 3 hours there. After this we went for Koshary and coffee at hurreya. Parted ways, he went off to the Coptic Cairo area and I went home to type something in Arabic.

Hot water was fixed. I could go into this happening for 2 paragraphs but that wouldn't be good for my zen level so I shall keep it at that.

After this we got ready for taboula, a nice Lebanese restaurant in Garden city. Angela, Chris, Jordan, Tara and her visiting friend, Asma. Ashref and Rahmo joined us later. Food was delicious, service was typical for Egypt, and the company was great.
Rahmo has officially declared himself a vegetarian as a part of his new trainer's weight loss program. I finally paid Ashref for the new hard drive is friend installed and advance for the old hard drive's recovery...

This was followed by a trip to Metro, the supermarket, because Angela absolutely needed to buy brown sugar... and rolling tobacco... part of her two addictions, caffeine and occasional rolled cigarettes... (all my friends are a bad influence/ I can handle it because their smoking after our meal was gross.

Then we went to the Cairo jazz club... they had some awful live rock band playing there. stayed WAY too late... 2h... sigh... Wednesday's going to be a struggle with more khan al-khalili running around with Jeremy plus a mountain of work which keeps on piling up, almost as high as the bloody pile of sheep/cow innards I was on the street Monday afternoon...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cairo Day 86

Third Thursday of November


Just a little intro before I forget: When Andreas takes his cold shower, aparently he screams like a little boy being attacked by glow in the dark worms. This was accoring to Constantine and Karoline who could hear him throughout the whole of the apartment...

met with atef for conversation. Ran back home to begin making deviled eggs for thanksgiving. Was the first to arrive at Angela's at 20h, which is crazy for me. Waiting at her place was a ton of food, and, mostly a large 10 kilo turkey.

Cairo day 87(85)...


Thanks to a nifty little date calculator, I learned that today is actually my 85th days in Cairo... how typical of me...

Had a SUPER good session with Atef. ALL in arabic/english with much talking and learning on both sides. We sat in the same place for 3 hours from 15h30 til 18h30. Had to leave because I was supposed to have a doctor's appointment at 21h but what do you know... even doctors recommended on the American Embassy's website are not reliable...(he had forgotten the password to his email account...)

Did some homework, mostly wrote a paper. Also went to the ahuah to have it looked over by Islam. There happened to be a soccer game on at the time, Ahaly v.s. Egypt. It was almost over though. Stayed up until 2h working on my paper and probably til 3h restless in bed. I think the pollution has subsided. It's good not to be able to sleep again.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Made sure to educated Atef and Islam about this. I have been assigned to make deviled eggs and bring cutlery.

Also looking forward to this weekend, even though we have school on Sunday. Should be going horseback riding in the dessert and meeting more Egyptians with Angela at the NGO.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cairo day 86


This was probably the most boring/best/shittiest day ever.
Did a good deal of studying after school today, was waiting for Atef to call so we could meet. Studied more at home because I wanted to have my work done before I went out in case Atef called. When I talked to him he canceled because he was too tired. I think he spent the whole day at the military bureaucracy so I could see why.
Did like 140 push ups while watching Obama's economic press conference. This felt good.
My computer is in the hands of an actual friend of mine now, not just a friend of a friend of a friend. Should be getting it back tomorrow. This was the good news.
Slept with ear plugs which are the best invention ever.
The hot water still is not working even though our landlord came by to fix it while I had my earplugs in.

Thursday is Thanksgiving! something to look forward too!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cairo Day 85


Got my passport back from the Mogamma.
Emailed, did homework at Angela's, all of this before school.
After school went to see a Japanese movie about tea called "Tea Fight" with Bjorn and Eric, two swedes from my school. This was with the Cairo International Film Festival. The movie was weird. But Bjorn really got me today when at lunch he joked about going to see a Colombian movie about coffee... totally fell for that.
Didn't meet with Atef.
Sijh! came over to my apartment to chill. super nice caught up. he's leaving back for NYC December 21st.
Went downtown to Hurreya with Ahmed, Chris and Jordan for her birthday (22nd). Nice time, just like last night. Came home and talked to Andreas' friend, Constantine. Oriental and Classics scholar at Harvard from what I understood underneath his German accent. Nice guy, polite.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cairo Day 84


Slept 6 hours, woke up at 8am to go to the Mogamma with A. Was surprisingly quick, painless and efficient... although I need to go back tomorrow because of a reentry visa., to pick up my passport.

Came back, did hw. Angela has a bf now, she was hiding him for the past few weeks... sneaky, Hatim, a super nice Egyptian, met him a few time in the past, always at night.

Watched this Korean soap opera/drama tv show "coffee prince" really good, all about korean people and their love stories. A nice incite to Korean culture, and its people, whom I've loved ever since 9th Grade (hoot hoot out to JinWoo Kong wherever you may by (Australia last I heard))

Got some ingredients to make delicious dinner here. It's cooking in the stove as I write... should be delicious... and just had popcorn...

Going to el-Fishawy coffee shop later tonight with Chris, Angela, Jordan, Rahmo. Should be fun. Getting cold out though.
Still no news from Sofie, very troubling.

Just made cookies :) chocolate :)
speaking of which, i'm dry out of cote d'or again...

Cairo Day 83


Woke up 12h30... didn't eat any breakfast, started reading a book called "Chicago"
Fixed the water heater/figured it out. Learned Arabic vocab from ch. 8 and 3 ~35 words. Ate houwaoushee and koshari for dinner at ahua. Chess with Islam? going out with Ahmed? Bitching about getting my mac back from Hossam. He said it'll be ready on Tuesday, I told him I want it back before that with or without a new hard drive. FUCK! EGYPT! FUCK EGYPT! i need that back!! ouff... I'm calm again...

In gerneral, starting to feel like Egypt and ARabic isn't all that. Couldn't live in Egypt bc of the the pollution. (this just in, according to Islam from the Ahua, the pollution is only like this during the month of November, just can't live here in Nov.)
and when I watch Al-Jazeera, it seems every other word that comes out of interviewees' mouths is in English. All educated arabs know English relatively well. Sticking to it though, maybe it'll pay off or I'll change my mind about not liking Cairo.
Assuming Arabic will get me a way cooler/higher paying job this could be worth it. Met a Sudanese media coordinator at the Mugamma today who speak Arabic and English and seemed like she had a cool job.

w/ a US gov job, you get 500$ more/month or $6000 more/year just for speaking Arabic and $200 more per month or $2400 more per year. Could also pay off in a few years.
Read more of Chicago, up to page 100.

No news from Sofie, since Wednesday, quite worried.

Cairo Day 82


Read the Herald Tribune all morning, met with Atef at 16h. Cleaning lady came today. soso job... Made deviled eggs at Chris' for Rahmo's Murder Mystery night which was fun in itself but not a real success as far as the murder mystery part goes. Re-met and met two pretty cool people, elizabeth and cristine, i think, hung out with them a bit after the party because they were going home in the same direction as me. Went to a friend of their's apartment. Got home at 3am.

on the way to chris': marked by how good egyptians would be at playing rugby or american football at the sight (and experience, based on my short rugby career in France) of them exiting the metro at the mubarak metro station -nearly qualified as violent.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cairo Day 81


Volunteered with A, taught Egyptians english, "cuz" was found in a Egyptian English newspaper, they wanted to know what "cuz" means... I can't believe someone published that in a newspaper... Only in Egypt... Lasted 2 hours, felt like they got a lot out of it. Walked from Zamalek to Tahrir w A. Each got a McDdonald's smoothie, 5 pounds, glorious, as Chris would say.
Met with Atef for 2 hours until 21h
Went home, watched an awesome documentary (mousajilia) on ARTE about luminescent sea creatures. Ate three yogurts. Slept from 22h to 1h, went back to bed, too much inertia to get out of bed to go to Palmira *belly dancers*. Slept, again, from 1h-9h30. Sleeping is just so easy and feels so right.

Cairo day 80


Was rather productive from 9h-11h. Thinking I will drop Colloquial Arabic. Went to smoothie place next to school with A and other girls. Nice time, met Pommegranate girl, swede, african origin.
Hw, eat, news in Fr, Arabic on fr 24, Pirus, Fr24 has 4 hours a day of Arabic broadcasts. Somali PIRATES! Exciting!

Atef 20h-22h15, home, sleep, excessively.

Cairo day 79

Day 59 has been updated.


I know there's no point in writing about what happened last tuesday, as it's already Sunday, but, I like to keep in mind the diary aspect of this blog, for later reading.

School was fine. Leaning towards thie NO Ameeya side. Talked to Angela about Risala NGO we'll go there together on R, she started teaching English. She's also stopping Colloquial, btw (252 Euros)

Went home around 16h30 after email stuff. Atef was busy today. Ate, watched news, got summoned to the Ahua around 19h. Chatted, played 5games of chess. Won 4. Had hw checked by one of the guys there too. Everyone is super nice, evern the jester who jokes about being Bin Laden & me being Bush when we play chess. He cheats and then looses anyway...
More hw, got ahead on vocab.
Still, morning headache, hangover feeling...
Moreover, worried about a lump in my neck by my ear, cyst, maybe should go away soon. Emailed doctor on Embassy's website anyway. Not super worried.
Have another cold sore on my bottom right lip. Probably due to intense pollution.
Lights out 0h32. Looking forward to Dec 21st.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cairo Day 78


First day of my third month of class! Half way through the semester! 20h/week, 9 weeks = 180 hours so far! of class only!

I'm really hesitating to continue with colloquial Arabic classes. They're from 9h-11h. Don't know if it's worth it. I think I could learn more outside of class, or doing stuff on my own. I could/should/colloquial should be practiced, not learned... The teacher is OK, speaks clearly, seemed nice enough at first sight. Another foreseeable problem is that of NOT using those two hours in a productive manner. To avoid this, I would come to school at 9h anyway and study on my own from Media Arabic book or my colloquial book, both of which I still have many chapters to go in.
Or, I could actually start volunteering at that NGO like I said I would 2 months ago -UPDATE: just talked to Angela after school and we're going there this Thursday after class.

Foosha (formal Arabic) was good again, same teacher as last month's session.
Met with Atef, spoke about as much Arabic/English as we did Spanish... but productive, as a whole.
Did HW, made dinner, steamed carrots and pasta. Went out with Karime, and Egyptian I met here while Gwladys and I were buying milk at the supermarket. He speaks French and English. Just chatted, mostly in French, some Arabic. He's nice can be on the snob side. I think I just have to find the right subjects to talk about and he's fine.
Email from dad. He has a new girlfriend. seems to be something good.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cairo day 75

For some reason I felt like i had a hangover today. This feeling finally subsided around 3pm...
Visited Cairo University with Islam, dude from my local coffee shop, with whom i play chess and hang out in Arabic.

Cairo Uni is pretty cool. Even though it was a day off and there were no classes students were still on campus, hanging out, probably because it's a safe haven from the outside world. Most girls were covered though.
Had a nice talk about religion with Islam... no pun intended... how ironic... on the rules they dictate and 'who' wrote such rules

stole Le Monde from a french centre in the Uni and read it.
Was bored and went back to the ahua and played 6 games of chess, won 4.
dealing with a super expensive 388 LE electric bill... there's no way we used that much this past month... negotiating with out landlord and electric co should be interesting...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cairo day 59



This was exactly the point when my hard drive crashed and burned into oblivion.

I have not yet fixed my computer but expect to get that taken care of this coming weekend.

Obviously, many things have happened in the meantime, namely, Gwladys came to visit me for 4 days and, another session of class has come to an end. I also walked in the street with Atef while linking arms, just like real Egyptian 'men'... Aftef says in 100 days I'll be a real Egyptian... luckily I'm leaving before then.

Cairo day 58, Egyptian social structure...


So, Hanging out with Angela the other day. She, by the way has an apartment tantamount in quality but for a much lesser price. This makes me slightly angry, but in a way, I'm still slightly ahead of the curve; she lived in the AUC zamalek dorms last semester which were much more expensive than my apartment... If I were to live here again another semester, I would know how to find cheaper too.

She was telling me a little about the Egyptian social structure...

On TWO occasions, a male (different each time) friend of hers came to visit later in evening, possibly late into the night. When they came down to their car, the tire, tires (two of them), respectively, had been slashed.
That's what you get for being Egyptian and hanging out with foreign girls...

Another thing, even more recent because it happened to C. Her neighbor, because she was having men over, called the cops on her at least 6 times. Finally, the cops responded, came by and told them about the complaint, originating from one of her neighbors. The weird thing is, that night when they all came home, they were REALLY quiet in the stairwell. Even had the keys pulled out of their pocket before reaching the door. Then all they were doing was watching a movie on a laptop which is also really quiet. Conclusion, the only way the crazy neighbor could have known is if he saw them through the peep hole...
There is absolutely nothing illegal about having boys over, especially for foreigners, but again, an Egyptian was with them, so haram... The Egyptian gave some money to the cop and they went away.

Saw Rochan, her friend, as did like 4 hours of convo with Atef. Rochan offered a nice point of view on the to Brazil or not to Brazil (it can be rephrased in another way as well) mushkila. Lately I have been getting various opinions on that issue.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cairo day 57

A ballot is like a bullet.

-Malcom X, 1964

Monday, October 27, 2008

cairo day 56 Haricots verts sautés (sauté(ed) (the 'ed' is redundant.

A seemingly delicious recipe I, alas, found too late for tonight but will try tomorrow:

I like green beans.

I also liked talking to my convo partner today.
He told me about how he flirts with a girl who is married, but just does it for kicks and isn't really interested in her.
He also told me his plans to move to España and marry a friend of his there in order to gain residency. That, or just live there illegally.
He hates how everyone tries to rip everyone off here, especially in tourism, and that the source of this is the government, I will inquire further tomorrow.

Had a surprise call from Afef, my convo partner, who, with a friend, was looking for an apartment to rent and thought it might be a good idea to call me to see if anything was available in my building. It just so happens that I exchanged numbers with a man who was trying to rent out his flat the other day... didn't work out through as the length of their desired contracts differed quite a bit (5 days and one year)

early bird gets the worm.

Cairo day 55


you know you're pumping Arabic when you see a word in English and immediately think of its translation.

Today is exemplified by me stepping out of the house for one hour only, about the time it took me to walk to the coffee shop, NOT need to order a coffee because the waiter already knew what I wanted without asking, and studying vocab, and thinking.
Basically I did homework all day. When my brain hurt, I took a break to eat vegetables, do push-ups and watch tv in Arabic. I also wrote some emails and touched bases with France this winter and my dad for summer.

In the shower, I realized, that I'm only 21 and will have lived in four continents/countries come next year. Pretty cool, and yes, I sense a tad bit of me being full of myself here, as four countries doesn't really mean too much.

Tomorrow after school, I shall my ballot, print out more papers for My argentina study abroad program (medical forms, host family forms :-) and the works so that I may fax them to the US again. This is really quite annoying as faxing stuff here is slow. I told Angela about this last night and she said "oh yea, I still need to send that in". As she is voting for the opposite candidate as I am, I really don't care, but still, I wonder if she'll be able to get that out in time. She has one week.

I also need to get more details as to Ahmed's nuweiba resort so that I may tell Jeremy about it so he may book his airplane tickets for sometime around eid (8-11th of December). I also need to see how many days we have off from school.

Can't wait for media class tomorrow. I'm waking up to bbc news, for sure. This is tantamount to waking me up with a swift kick in the butt, inciting me to wake up and learn more Arabic before it's too late.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cairo day 54, mish ashur bil hgurba delwokti


was good. Talked to a Nayru and Pirus on skype which was very nice. Washed clothes, went to a modeling agency to try and get recruited for work while I'm here. Apparently it pays well. They said they'd call me back if they are interested... never a good sign. Also met up with Atef for convo partner stuff. He's paying now, for extra time going over English. This small revenue should really cut down on my taking money out of my bank account, except for rent.

Took care, or rather, began to take care of voting procedures. This was annoying. Involved printing out pages of absentee ballot stuff. Had to run to three different internet/fax places. Basically, to vote in Illinois, you need to print out your absentee ballot, fill it out, fax it to the Chicago City Board of Election Commissioners and then send it to them physically. They have to receive my letter 14 days after, at the latest, for it to count. Which, to me, makes no sense. What if they don't receive it, does my vote get voided? Weird. Anyway, I voted, provided my letter gets there in the next three weeks. I have the two envelopes ready to go, just need to go downtown to the post office.
And then the fax place wanted my address, nationality, and passport number in order for me to send the fax. I didn't have it so I made it up. No problems there... It took about 20 minutes to send a 3 page fax though.

Met up with Mohammad, angela and Chris and Teresa too. Went to Mohammed's place to watch a movie, called "the fall" it sucked, well, it was good when i was awake. But I think I spent most of the time sleeping on his bed. I think most of us were of the same opinion. and then he had us watch 30 rock, some show with tina fey. nothing special there either.
Ahmed, his pretty cool friend mentioned that we might all go to this dad's resort in Nuweiba for Eid. All inclusive, free. Sounds pretty sweet.
Lately I've been interested in going to Dubai. I need to meet someone who has hook ups there. Chris and I might also go check out Lebanon, by plane, during Eid, which i'd rather do than Nuweiba, but again, we'll see about that.

Got home at 4am. I love hanging out at Mohammeds, but I'd like it more if it was during the day. two of my weekends and one of my weeks has been screwed up sleepwise so far, and i've only known him for a little more than one week. I'm getting too old.
Last night, for the first time, as I was coming home to my apartment door, I had the feeling that I was coming home, to my home, by base, the Thibaud HQ.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cairo day 52


Arabic Media class was awesome, as usual, I am actually looking forward this weekend's homework. In general, I feel like I have been making progress in Arabic and getting more out of being in Cairo as opposed to, say an intensive Arabic camp at Middlebury.

I had a very nice conversation about religion with Angela's best Egyptian friend. In hindsight, I'm starting to think this may have been social suicide, but I'm glad we talked and 'I mostly' shared 'my' ideas 'with him' one another. It was more one-way. I won't go into details because I would like to watch a movie before going to bed.

Otherwise, I met with Atef again, met some of the classmates from his English class. Ate some koshary in front of the mugamma. Later, met up with C, A, M, and A for, again picnic with sweets (helwas) in front of the mugamma. Good night, didn't get home too late.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cairo day 51


I wonder how I will be changed after Cairo. I also wonder what I will compare this change to. My last stable situation was about 6 months ago. Since then I have constantly been moving/travelling/living in places that are changing me. Should be interesting to go back to campus a whole year afterwards having lived in 5 countries for at least more than three weeks. There are fewer permanent reference points in my life now. I think I like where this is going, in general. Enough with the introspective crap...

Chatted with Atef for 2 hours today. Had way too much homework and it's 1am and i'm not done with half of it. Should have started earlier I suppose. As always.

59? days left I need to start learning how to count months and weeks and stuff like that.

Cairo day 50


Another person joined my media Arabic class today... well not really a person as she is Swedish. That makes 4/7 swedish students in an Arabic class. I'm starting to think that Sweden is an Arabic powerhouse.

I found a minibus which will take me from my school to a block from my apartment for .75 pounds. This is amazing and probably take 15 extra minutes. I really like it much better than taking the taxi too.

Went to Mohammad's for dinner. He made Chris, Angela and I fried chicken, rice and garlic mash potatoes with cream of mushroom sauce. so good. Got home at 1am though. Not good.

I got a haircut yesterday.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cairo day 49 first spider sighting...


Today was the first day of classes of my second session.
My first two hours of class was with Hani, the same teacher I had for colloquial Arabic last month. He is positively awesome and an excellent teacher. I'm really happy with him as our teacher. He says our goal is not to become proficient in Arabic media understanding but, rather, our goal is to learn strategies we will be able to apply to continue understanding and furthering our study of Arabic medias.
There are only 6 people in this class, half of, I feel compelled to mention are Swedish...? wtf...

My afternoon was with an equally delightful although my meager sleep infringed upon my full learning capacity... lol... Good teacher, I like her already much more than my last month's formal Arabic teacher. Should be good learning times.

After class I chilled with Angela. She showed me where there's a post office by Tahrir square. It's super small and hidden. Totally weird. I'm going back tomorrow to send stuff from there. Preparing the envelopes tonight. Shouldn't be more than 4 pounds to send a letter to the USA.

By the way, I saw my FIRST spider here at an ahuah (coffeeshop). It was crawling on my table. I wish I could name its species and all that.

I was also going to mention how I have not noticed any birds here yet. Which is true. But yesterday I saw some ravens from outside our balcony's window. And today I saw smaller birds, like sparrows. I think they're migrating here for winter. Pretty cool.

Cairo day 48


Had a relatively productive day.
Did Arabic, studied from my 401 Arabic verbs book. Called a modeling agency and it seemed pretty straightforward as far as getting work with them. Tomorrow I'm getting a haircut for sure and the day after going over there for some photos.
Also emailed my advisor to make sure I'm exactly on track for graduation at the end of Fall 2009. That took a long time as my email was very detailed and precise.

At 18h I had Chris and Angela over for pasta and a pasta tomatoe sauce. Fun stuff, Chris and I made most of it, Angela came late so we had her do the messy mango carving. Food was quite good. Then we sat on the balcony and had out smoothies with, I'd say 50cl of vodka. But I don't think it was real as it didn't taste very strong at all. Only 10 pounds though. The smoothies had no effect whatsoever on any of us. But it was still fun to make. Took some pictures, though not nearly enough.

Then we went to this friend of Angela's named Mohammed. Mohammed (M) is more american than ANYONE I have EVER met. He watched every american tv show worth watching (he says) and has an illegal copy of everymovie you may want. He also has a perfect american accent, and a very nice voice, by the way. For the first 20 minutes I didn't see him and could only hear his squeeky american voice. He didn't look at all like what I though he would based on his voice.

On the way there we passed by Al-Azhar mosque and Khan al-Khalili... on the way back we passed by the Everest hotel...

We played taboo at his place. I slept a lot, in my narcolepctic way of sleeping. We ordered pizza. He made us cake. We talked. We left his place at 3h30... holy fucking shit. I should NOT have had those two cups of coffee because now I really cannot sleep and I'm going to be fried for the next 3 days.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cairo day 47


Only thing noteworthy is that I talked to a few people back in the States, namely Christina, Cristina and Jiongyi. I thanked Cristina and Jiongyi for looking over my application for Argentina and they were both really happy to hear from me and vice-versa.

I also hung out with my Egyptian, Atef, again. From around 17h to 23h. We had a few coffees, one sheesha, some very nice street food, some pastries, a few teas -total decadence- but in the name of practicing Arabic I'm all for it. We had a nice time, talk a about a lots of things, from education, to work, to marriage, to masturbation, to cars (nice progression eh?) Interesting stuff.

Cairo day 46


Woke up late today, it's the holy-day of friday and there's a guy yelling outside on a microphone who sounds really pissed. Oh, that's just the sermon, I think. If only I could understand... soon... I could be an asset to the us gov for potential terrorist cells.

Just caught up on month-old emails. Going to put meem and prof mello in touch for when she goes to Brazil. Maybe he can show her around like he did to me and the guys.
Also looked into voting and it's not too late. sigh... nora jones... But I might have to go there on Monday therefore skip school for one day.

Today I met with Rochan from school and her convo partner. I'm going to adopt him from her because she's moving to Kenya for volunteer work in a hospital.
She'll also be in Buenos Aires next semester for 2 weeks in April. We'll def have to hang out when she's there. It's nice to have something to look forward to/have an Arabic convo date set up so far in advance. Adel, an Algerian/French friend from school might be there as well.
My convo partner's name is Atef. He's pretty cool. In college, learned Spanish instead English so now he's fluent in Spanish and it trying to learn English. So we had a really nice, productive time, using Spanish, sadly, as a mediating language.
We might be meeting again tomorrow to go buy sweaters.

Then Sofie and I had a very enjoyable conversation on Skype :-)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cairo day 45 Thursday


Last day of class for this first session.
3:15 met Chris and his friend Jordan at al-Falaki square in front of Hurriya. Walked over to Abadyne Palace to visit its museum. This museum has treaties, presents, objects, Egypt has received as presents from other world leaders. A koran from Saddam Hussein... pretty cool.
Unfortunately it closes at 2pm everyday...

Chilled at a coffee place for about 1.5 hours, talking got to know Jordan better. She seems like a nice match for Chris and he's quite interested(I made sure to mention my girlfriend a few times). Same interests, smart, (she got the NSEP scholarship) and fun. APPROVED. (More potential than Mai)
We walked through the neighborhood that sells electrical appliances and lights. This was pretty funny.
We also got, following my initiative, street sweet potatoes. Only 2 pounds. As sun was setting we continued to get closer to downtown. Then Jordan had to go to work, she works nights at an ngo. But these goodbyes took about 30 minutes so I'm assuming she was enjoying herself.
Chris and I wandered some more around downtown. We found a reaaally nice meat/vegetable based bread snack -the new shwarma- but far less readily available.
Went to his place for the first time.
Let me take a moment to describe how jealous I am of it. At first sight. It's clean, simple, has reaally high ceilings. No internet and no living room. A bit small. But probably much cheaper. baaa I still like my place better, but I wouldn't mind switching for a month.

We started watching "21" a movie about MIT students going to Las Vegas to count cards and make money. About 30 minutes into it I said to Chris, "If you want to I'm willing to watch another movie, because, this one, well, I can see where it's going..." bad acting, bad writing, predictable. We made a U-turn and changed lanes to the superior "No Country Old Men" which was reeaaaaally good. Chris had already seen it but it was awesome. Such a good story. Reminded me of "Capote"

Came home, read an email from Gwladys about how she's really interested in coming here nov 8-11th with a friend of hers. Should be short and sweet. We'll see if it happens.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cairo day 43 Aliens and street art.

a few thoughts.

I've noticed that there a good deal of taxi drivers who sleep in their taxis. I get the feeling that they're homeless.
This ties in with the fact that an activist girl in my formal Arabic class told me there are 750000 homeless people living in a cemetery somewhere in Cairo. I'm not sure HOW to verify that # but it is def the # she told me.

In passing, same girl just decided to go back to telaviv where she's from. Didn't even say goodbye. wtf? manners... damn Israelis have NONE. ByE the way, you're not reading this, but, same girl, I hope you are feeling better, less sick or cairo physically, and mentally if that applies. God damn you for never calling us about a street-art-tour of Cairo.

Another Random Thought:
Girls who wear a hijab here, or just a shall, who wear their hair up underneath it, look like Aliens from the Aliens movie. There are also quite a few Aliens who lurk the streets of Cairo.

Cairo day 42 updated

I'm supposed to talk about my school in the entry. It's late and I am lazy. Tomorrow, or maybe this weekend.
sorry people!

The school I am currently attending is ILI (international Language Institute). It is NOT affiliated with UIUC although I am going to try to change this because the current UIUC Egypt option is grim.

It is based out of London, is private and caters to mainly European, American and International students, in that order. You'll find your average 40 year old american who dreams of becoming a spy and saving his country from terrorism as you will your average 20 something-year-old Swede who's parents immigrated from Irak when he was 3 but who still somehow speaks Kurd...
The students are generally friendly and interesting.

There are probably 70 students, 15 teachers, 10 admins, 7 staff. An overpriced cafeteria and balconies make for nice socializing areas. A computer room makes for a nice extra-socializing area...
They offer two types of classes, formal and colloquial Arabic. I take both. They also offer calligraphy and media classes.

The staff is generally nice although I get the feeling they are trying to get as much money from you as possible, especially with the cafeteria. This was especially felt with a 50 pound iftar meal which was not worth it. That was the last time I ate there. Most people have discovered the nearby restaurant which has meals for one fifth the price. Knowledge is power.

I have a test tomorrow. I found out about it today. I should go study my butt off for the next 6 hours.

I wonder if my dad still has my plant named harahachiboo.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cairo day 41 girilz

In colloquial class, our teacher was telling us about a funny story having to do with the difference between the words grill and girl. This happened to him the first day he went to study in Denmark maybe 18 years ago and his English was not that good.

He was famished and strolling around looking for a place to appease his hunger. He had not yet eaten anything since his arrival. He set out down a street (I don't remember the street's name) and was approached by a woman asking him if he wanted "a grill". He was very happy to hear this and replied with alacrity. So then he asked her how much for 'a grill' thinking this as a food. She gave him a price of something like 100 USD and he thought woooaa, food in Denmark is reaaally expensive.
Well anyway, I'm butchering this funny story but once he realized that that was not a really really big shwarma/kebab/sandwich but in fact a nicely shaped Danish prostitute, he quickly declined, embarrassed, trying to explain the misunderstanding - or so he said... haha

Saturday, October 11, 2008

cairo day 40 spiders

There are no Spiders in Cairo. I have not seen one since I've been here.
I miss you spiders.
Come back to meeee.

Spider in Arabic is 3nkabout (ankabout)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cairo day 39

Last night I talked to my dad and my sis on skype for the first time. This was quite heartwarming, it was nice to see and hear them. They were in the living room watching Iron Man together... I don't fully approve the this choice in movies...
It was so late here, that it was even late there. My dad had to go to bed because he had to wake up about the same time as it was in Cairo, the next day (6h30)

I slept until 10h. made breakfast. Mostafa my friendly 8th floor neighbor came over to have me try on some clothes for the wedding he invited me too. Ended up just borrowing his iron to iron my own clothes which were suitable to the occasion. Then I slept more. Practiced the relaxing technique that S taught me. It was actually so relaxing that I couldn't fall asleep and was just enjoyed being relaxed. Pretty funny in a weird way. I def can't fall asleep on my back if I'm alone.

Slept until 16h. Watched France 24 news in French on our tv. Made myself a noodle/potato/onion mash up for dinner. Surprisingly satisfying.

The wedding was really nice. It was in a Roman-Catholic church, not a Muslim wedding as I assumed. Very bright, musical, all the woman were wearing short dresses, made up etc... the whole 9 yards, even a limousine to deliver the bride and groom to the church.
The ceremony was in Arabic/Latin/Greek(Ithink)
It was about 45 minutes long. There were two crowns involved. One was placed on each of the newlyweds' heads and exchanged a few times. I think at one point they said "I do" in arabic and voila. Took lots of pictures and video. It was a very cool experience.

Now I'm at home, probably going to buy tickets for Belgium and France for this Christmas.

Cairo day 38

So today I completed the discovery of a small restaurant by my school. It sells taemia, an egyptian equivalent to falafel, for one pound (about 20 UScents).
Taemia is a piece of pita bread filled with two falafel equivalents, some sauce and some vegetables. Needless to say, for 2 pounds one has a nice little lunch. This was a godsend as I have recently been on a quest for a budget of 100 pounds of ekel (food) a week.

After school I came home. Read and rested. Went out to a birthday party of a friend of Mai and Anas' of whom I've decided I don't really like. She took us to a place which charged a minimum of 50 pounds per person. I found this out after we arrived, or course. Anyway, I only bought 15 pounds worth of chocolate cake. Not even that good. I'm not sure about the 50 pounds though. Last time they said there was a 100 pound minimum charge they didn't end up respecting it. Figured they would do that here as well and just say so to get us to spend more. This whole 50 pounds thing totally goes against my precedent paragraph. plus the place was shitty, they only played music half the time. Anyway, the french party I went to after was way cooler.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

returning to the consistency of a daily blog.

well it's time to start writing in my blog again. It's been a good 2 weeks absence. Much has happened and I hope to catch up on this in the coming week.
For the few who read my blog, please forgive me, next time I see you, you will have a 5 minute grace period in which you may beat me over the head with a garden gnome. I hope this compensates. Now I hope not too many people will read this.

As a general summary, my girlfriend came to visit me for 8 days. This was absolutely wonderful, we had a great time together. This was also probably the reason I did not make time for this blog (reason, not fault, no blame ;)

so yea, between the pyramids and egyptian adventures, I hope to get you back on track with the generalities of my existence.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cairo day 28

Went to Arvis' for final Ramadan Iftar meal.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cairo day 25 Zaterdag D-1

Today, I'm not doing much. So I'm just going to post something I wrote to a Spanish teacher of mine. It is a short summary of Cairo and it's high time I post something like this.

Cajera (Cairo, right?) is... maybe, bustling? Maybe that would be a word to describe it.
It's very busy during the day, people don't respect traffic signals, taxi drivers always want more money from you, its very polluted and noisy although this doesn't bother me so much.

It's dirty, there are cats running around everywhere, but no dogs.

There are really cheap vegetable stands on street corners that can supply you with 6 people's worth of food for 2 USD.

There are really wealthy people and there are more really poor people.

But Cairo has its charms. There are lots of things that grow on you. Such has how friendly people can be here, how generous they are, how easy it can be to have ANYTHING you want delivered to your home. It also has many backward aspects, many closed eyes towards things which are considered 'bad' (such as homosexuality or prostitution or alcohol) but which take place in huge amounts anyway.

One thing is for sure, Cairo is not dangerous for Western foreigners. If anything, it's safer than the average Chicago neighborhood. People here may disagree with your opinions, but they will not harm you because of it. Mostly, they are looking for a nice debate, or just looking to talk with someone. Cairo=safe. Even girls I've talked to (e.g. my roommate) have said they feel safe walking around at night. Safe, in a physical sense, not in a staring at you, whistle at you kind of way. Physically, not emotionally, harmless.

Cairo day 23 (donderdag) cooking

Today's noteworthy even involved cooking. I must say, sadly, my first, but not last meal was made today.
Angela and I fasted (it's always good to have a fasting buddy) even though, for me, means I ate breakfast and she didn't. We had been planning on making an Iftar meal for about a week now.
She came by around 5pm with some vegetables. Green beans, zucchini, potatoes, TOmatoes (lots), eggplant, and more I'm sure.
She also brought some dates. These were decent. Probably George Bush dates though, not Osama Bin Laden ones (here, in markets, sometimes they'll name the dates after people based on their quality...)
After washing (crucial) and chopping it all up and popping it all into one large pot with water and olive oil we had ourselves on large pot of cooked vegetable. I had boiled the potatoes before hand.
We also made some rice to go along with this. This made me happy because I got to use my filfil iswad (black pepper).
2 cups of water for one cup of rice. But don't use a whole cup because you'll end up with enough rice for 14 people.

By the way, this was relatively delicious.
It was also very very cheap. The total cost: 10 pounds for the whole meal. Well, really 8 pounds but 10 if you include olive oil and gas and pepper and whatever else.

Of course, there were only two of us, so I frantically called up people to come over for dinner. Chris couldn't because he was setting up a fan, secretly, though, he just doesn't like eggplant.
Julia came and Andreas ended up eating a little bit. We fed only 4 people but could have fed 6 easily. I was in a food coma for the following three hours.

I don't remember the name of this dish. I'll ask Angela next time I see her.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Cairo day 24 Freitag

Woke up at noon. Played with internet for a bit. Read up on tour guide stuff for next week. Planned a little bit.
Worked on my app for Buenos Aires. Organized getting beer for tonight. Anas has volunteered for my to use his car to go to Heliopolis.

Je suis excite comme une puce.

We'll see how the housewarming goes. I've invited some people from school. I think a few will come. I think it will be a majority of Egyptians though. None of Karoline's friends can come, as they are all on vacation.

We got stopped by a cop because of anas' driving. We had alcohol in the car and it was still Ramadan. This would have been bad had Anas not talked himself out of it.
So the housewarming party was good. Chris and Mai made out in the back of Anas' car on the way back home. Success!

well im in bed now. im typing with one hsnd, quite rapidly actually, but im really tired and a bit buzzed. goodnight, publish!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cairo day 22

Can't say much for today. Went to st marc's coptic cathedral after school with Karoline, Chris, Julia. Not that cool. Also then went to a rip off dinner at ILI. Got there at 7, as planned, an hour late, and there was barely any food left, even though they promised us there would be, when we arrived late, at 7. Bastards just trying to get money out of us.

Then went home. Slouched around. did some hw. nothing special. Got a really nice text from not just anyone.
just 2.5 days left... :-)
I'm sending out frantic requests to professors for my study abroad in Argentina next semester. The outlook is grim... Doing it feels good though.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cairo day 21 tuesday

A tree randomly fell in the middle of the street. This about 15 seconds after Chris and I walked by where it fell. This blocked off the whole street and of course, the honking set in. Luckily nobody was hurt by it. Chris and I found some speakers for my room/housewarming party.
After this we trekked up Talat Harb street. exhilarating, as usual. Chris showed me a Kosheri place that seems to be open. One of the rare ones. Kosheri is cheap. We paid three pounds for a large bowl of it. Kosheri consists of rice, noodles, tomato sauce among other things... god knows what. Anyway, the point is, it's really cheap. Probably not healthy, but cheap, lots of carbs. After this we walked around, chatted with a guy selling bootleg dvds. A dvd here (mostly american action movies) costs 13 pounds or about $2.5 Nice guy, original name: Mohammed. He got a kick out of our Arabic names. Took the metro home. It's nice living right off the metro station.

Did homework, relatively early. Also scrambling to get more French proofreading done. Ahmed, the guy who's giving me this work forgot to give me a 23 paged document to work on. He wants it by tomorrow... I've already done 13 pages but it's annoying to have to work so fast. Probably not the best priority.

gchatted with Maggie. She mentioned how I should look into Islamic finance and how French banks were already all into that market.
a quote from her blog: see blog name 'does houston have a soul' and read day 143, maybe. internet is down right now so can't post the exact quote.
Interesting blog anyway. written in a creative way to say the least... it's most used word is probably "crude" and "boys" or maybe "boyz"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cairo day 20 or D-6

Let's try to sound like Maggie a little. Sarah Palin is 'obviously' a smart woman, but, really dumb mostly. Good for 6000 person Alaska but not for 301,139,947 (July 2007 est.) person USA let alone 6,602,224,175 (July 2007 est.) person world once McCain dies of a fifth run in the melanoma department. Well, I can see her fitting in with an african tribe somewhere, or maybe in Mongolia, just because of the way she speaks and what she says. Or maybe Tennessee.

anyhou, after class I came straight home and stuffed myself with salted butter and camenbert cheese. yummy. Then I read too much stuff on random news sites. Then I made myself eggplant in a pan with lots of olive oil and salt, surely negating any positive vegetable effects the egg plant could have had on me. This was done in the company of egyptian propaganda cartoons.

Then I started homework. Wow. weird saying that. but it felt good.
so perhaps walking around my neighborhood looking for a travel agency wasn't a good idea. Or perhaps it was. Ask Tarek, the guy who sold me carrots and onions and he'll say it was great, he learned two new words. Ask my formal Arabic teacher tomorrow, and well, lets just hope carrot and onion are the same in colloquial and formal. My neighborhood's actually kind of lively and slightly cool. More of a market place than the shopping area downtown is. hmm... i wonder what i can do with eggplant, carrots, potatoes, and onions, rice, pasta, spices, butter, and camenbert... maybe i'll have to introduce an unknown into this equation.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cairo day 19

Cairo, Sunday 21st

Today was good. I got all of my proofreading done for French. This makes a total of 52 pages that I corrected for this guy based out of Cambridge. Chris said he got paid his due today. So that's good, I might also be getting paid soon. Cool stuff, my first job done purely in front of a computer.

Chris and I walked over to the Sheraton and totally used their pool for free. We just walked in, changed in a bathroom on the second floor and walked over to the pool area in out suits. We stayed for about an hour. The water was really cold. It's been cooler here in Cairo. High of 84 this week. Anyway, the cherry on the top was that one of the pool workers nicely made sure we would be there tomorrow. We, of course assured him we would. I think we might actually go back next weekend. See how long it takes for them to catch on to our little game...

We went out to dinner with Arvis, had a pizza at Pizza Hut... not too proud of it. The service was horrible. They had no more spatulas for getting the pizza from the burning dish to our plates... and of course, no change when it came time to pay the bill (well it took about 4 minutes for them to conjure the change, 10 pounds).
I had Arvis and Chris over. I also tried a fried eggplant which was really good. It reminds me of Thibault's grandma, the best grandma ever, after mine, of course. I think i'll wake up early tomorrow to make myself an eggplant sandwich with lots of mustard and maybe some camenbert, if my taste buds so decide.

Walked over to McDonald's for wireless because ours is out again. That wasn't that fruitful. I really can't tell for Alitalia. There's so much at sake, I think the unions might give in soon, at the expense of loosing all of their jobs. Really sucks though.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cairo day 18

Went to Coptic Cairo with Karoline, Julia and Bettina. Chris was supposed to come but had his first day of teaching and got out of it rather late.

So Coptic Cairo basically has a lot of Churches, a synagogue and a few mosques to visit. It also has a cemetery which a chapel where Mary supposedly took refuge with her kid to hide from the infanticide.
Oh, I was getting comments from Julia and Karoline about how depressed I look all the time... sounds familiar.

After CC we came back to Cairo and HorrAY free, stolen internet works in our apartment and I'm able to get my drug!!! Suddenly, life is much better.

And, now for the rest of the day I'm simply going to relax, proofread french, maybe apply to Argentina, probably not, and do Arabic hw.

and hope for next Sunday.

Cairo day 17


Slept til 1pm. Chris woke got my out of bed with a call to go see the Agricultural Museum. This was closed but we sneaked in passed a sleeping guard (just like in the movies) and were able to explore the museum grounds. Pretty cool. Would have been nice to see the "taxidermied rhinoceroses and display of horrific animal diseases", for another time. We headed over to the Mahmoud Khalil modern museum. An egyptian and his French wife collected art, mostly from the impressionist period and apparently it has some good works. Also closed. Instead we opted for the duty free at the nearby sheraton hotel. We also discovered that we could use the pool there for free, if we pretended to be customers. Quite easy.
Chris and I met up with Arvis and his 30 year old friend, Heather for Pizza at some shitty wannabe French restaurant. T'was ok. Also found a western book shop which I really liked taking refuge in.
Then we met up with Mai and Anas and that whole group for a sheesha. Standard. There was some gossip/drama going on with one of the guys Mai brought along though. Interesting dynamics.
Following this little thing, Anas, Arvis and I went to a concert of Mohammad Monir. I had heard about him in Anas' car because Anas' always plays his album. There was one song in particular I REALLY wanted to hear which I will post and begin listening to immediately.
Sadyly, we got there four songs late and missed this favorite song. It was still worth it though.
Got home at 2am and chatted a bit with Andreas and Karoline. I'm starting to get annoyed with Andreas because he always uses my favorite stella artois glass for his coffee and never cleans it after. Whatever. I'll figure something out.

Sorry, I can't find the song I want anywhere, maybe because the album just came out.

Cairo day 16

Things I've noticed about Egypt:
-There are a lot of stray cats and very few stray dogs. Dogs are bad luck and have something to do with bad ginis here. Cats, well, it's Egypt.
-Garbage is a mess. I've seen mini neighborhood landfills in the middle of poor neighborhoods here.
-Nicab's suck
-Only about half the people drive with their lights on at night. Good luck seeing the rest.
-Crossing the streets is like Eddy Murphy in one of his movies, Blue Streak, I think. Very dangerous.
-Egyptians don't like Israel. Pepsi: Pay Every Penny Something Israel.
-You can't take pictures of government buildings here.
-During Ramadan, there are table out in the street. If you're hungry, go up to one of these tables and sit down and someone will serve you, for free. Charity. Open to anyone.
-Cairo is not clean.

Class was fine. Learned a lot of stuff about the month of Ramadan.

After school took a nice long nap which caused me to miss iftar meal with Andrea and her Egyptian friends out in 6th of October city. No biggie. I hung out with Chris instead. We got a nice meal for 13.5 pounds and walked around until we found a nice sheesha place in a pedestrian street which looked really clean. We sat there for about four hours and talked a lot. Good times.

I walked home from Downtown to Dokki. Home around 1am. Walked passed the Nile twice and the Opera on the way home.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cairo day 15

WTF is up with taxi drivers here?? The morning's ride from dokki to ili usually costs 6 or 7 pounds with me, karoline and Anglea (we all 'taxipull') Today, Angela was a no show and the traffic was super light so it should have been even less expensive. So we gave him 5 pounds. He came out of his car after us. Demanding that we give him more. Prick. Taxis suck.

So yesterday I tried out Formal Arabic level three for an hour. I was having trouble with the grammar in level four. Turns out that level three is really for beginners; they were learning how to say "my favorite hobby is... " and the grammar stuff was all stuff that I already know.

So I'm back in level four, where, today was mostly vocab based so it wasn't too difficult for me. Anca, from level three also came up with me to level four. The grammar wasn't too difficult today either. I think I will manage.

This evening was very fun. I met Chris at Ramese square. We got sweets at a bakery place. The theme of this evening: Mona's birthday. This meant we got to go to Mona's place in Nasser city and she was allowed to make us dinner :-) hehehe, good but very filling. I sadly could not finish my plate. We sat on the balcony for a while and talked/learned Arabic. I had them do some of my colloquial class homework which consisted of asking Egyptians about a few different words relating to Ramadan. So that I didn't feel too horrible, I made them explain these words to me in Arabic.
Tonight's main noteworthiness lay in the fact that I kept on bombarding them with questions on Arabic. Mainly vocab, partially swear words. People were also very interested in my small vocab journal. They seemed to get a kick out of the very simple words and my meticulous and voweled handwriting. And also felt free to make correction/additions wherever they felt needed. I, was not too happy about this as I think they replaced much of my formal words with colloquial ones.
All of this was done around about 7 hookahs. There ended up being about 3 westerners and 10 egyptians. Oh I was named Mursi. This is my new arabic name. I shall change my name tag in class tomorrow :-)

Oh, the landlord came by to fix the washing machine/show us how it works. About time as my clothes had been in there last night and the machine would not drain its water at the end of the cycle. I also learned that there is a slot for detergent. I hope the fact that I simply put the detergent in with my clothes didn't ruin them...

My main preoccupation right now is with Alitalia and their bloody bankruptcy quandary.

tata y'all

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cairo day 14

cairo day 14.

Traveler's tip #3
Before buying an airplane ticket, always check to make sure that airline is not in danger of bankruptcy or any other problem which may cancel your vacation at the last minute.

Just another day of classes. I spent about 2 hours proofreading French medieval texts on water... boooring...
Fasted today to try to give my system a rest.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cairo day 13

Someone's coming to visit me in 12 days...

Today I had my first day of class. Colloquial was easier than I thought it would be.
Formal was much harder than I thought it would be. My oral formal Arabic is much better than it's grammar.

After school, Karoline and I took a minibus to nowhere. This "nowhere", we were assured, would be our metro stop, Dokki. We ended up taking a taxi for just as much. It was a cool experience though, besides the newborn baby next to me who smelled like rotting meat, but even that was cute.

Then I rushed out with Chris to go to an Iftar meal with friends of his. Egyptian friends, that is. Cool ones. Real cool.
A girl named roshha picked us up, Chris, Arvis, and I and we drove for about 40 min to 6th of October city to get to Anis' house. On the way there I had fallen asleep. Of course when we stopped to wait for Anis to show us the way, I woke up and to my surprise, the pyramids were right outside the car window! cool way to see them for the first time!
The meal at Anis' was delicious. His mom made it though. He went to no length to hide this, however.
After this we went to a local sheesha bar. This was also delightful besides my intestinal problems (they would later be taken care of by a quick ride back to Anis' water closet, I'm glad I had a napkin because they had no toilet paper, just a hose).
We smoked hookah, and played two card games whose only purpose were to get us to do stupid thinks in our surroundings. I had to flirt with an Egyptian boy. Chris had to pretend to steal bags of chips from a stand and run away with the clerk running after him. Arvis had to ask an Egyptian girl to dance. Mai asked an egyptian girl to sleep with her, although she improvised this and it was far from what her original dare was supposed to be. One of these games had a designated winker. The last person, he who had not been winked at, would have to guess the winker. If they guessed wrong they had to do a dare. There were no real rules and everyone eventually ended up doing something stupid.

Our drive back was fun. Anis drives fast. We were also blasting cool arabic music. I learned a few words tonight; corpse, hottie, shy, and fresh. I also learned the difference between "to compose" and "one thousand" which have very similar spellings. I told this group that I would like for them to meet my girlfriend when she comes. This was met with a response by Anis asking "does she have any hot friends?" I answered yes, but not in Egypt, assif ya Anis. But that I will ask her to bring some.

Post, iftar party, I paid my share of the commission to our broker, he sent someone to pick up his fee.

I also received a sms from Chris. I transcribe: "held hands w mai in the back seat & got a boner. Moving @ the speed of egypt"
I will refrain from posting the rest of this text message convo. All I can say is that it was not suitable to female minds.

Now, I'm doing Arabic homework. I wish I had somehow done it in my mind, in the background of tonight's hanging out. Sigh... future technology... please come to me now.

12 more days...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cairo day 11

I've decided that I only like Mango juice when it's freshly made at juice stands in the street and it has big blobs of mango floating in it, and, of course, it must be very cold. It's hard to come by cold things in Cairo. note: no longer buy mango juice at the supermarket.

I was wondering, also, how does car insurance work in Egypt? Does our taxi driver's car over heating and him having to pour water into the motor go on the insurance records? Apparently you can get car insurance here for like 3000 pounds a year. That's like a fourth of the average income... Most of the license plates are written with paint by hand.

Tonight I went to an Iftar meal at a sister of a friend of my aunt and uncle's house. This was a 30 min ride out of Cairo in October 6 city. In a villa that was suuuuper nice. The food was delicious and the people there were reeeaaaally nice.
This was followed by a movie, "Baby mama" very American. This whole experience was very american by the way, as my host grew up in the US. American with a funny Egyptian feel.

After this movie, this really nice couple drove me home (the driver drove, of course) but before that we made a stop at Burger King, one of the few in Cairo. This was cool. Weird to see wallpaper of football players. All the while had nice conversation. With them.

Got home, said hello to flatmates. it's all good.

cairo day 10

woke up. Got more money. Gave more money to the landlord. had to put down one month's rent and a month's rent for deposit. yikes.

Went shopping, this time, the three of us flatmates. got stuff, cleaned out the fridge together and filled the fridge. Also split the bill according to what we bought and would consume.

Then we had some downtime. I used to to proofread some french stuff and go over arabic.

Sofie's coming in 15 days.

Went out with flatmates to meet Chris and his awesome friends. I was supposed to elaborate on how awesome they are but I'm not going to because I don't feel like it. If you want to know why, email me.

i'm soooo tired...

went to the faluja ride along the nile. This is a small boat that takes you along the Nile. This offers a nice view. This moment was shared with some cool french people. Namely a guy named Alex. After this boat ride (which had beers sneaked on it) we went to one of the french guy's apartment not to far away on foot. There we went on the roof and partied. Well, I just talked to people, but some people were really partying.

Got home around 2am, right before the landlord came by with keys. Literally about 8 seconds later he was at the door. Weird.
sleep in bed.

cairo day 9

so yesterday I got up and met up with Karoline early, around 11h... We went over to the apartment and dropped off some of our things. Went shopping for our apartment. I think we put up some notices on cairo scholars and co. in order to find a roommate. We had about three people interested that same day.

Around 5:30 I went back to my hostel to meet up with Costa to go meet some friend's of Prof. Baer. This also happens to be Costa's boss at the NGO he's working at.
These were extremely nice people. They also happened to be the first people I had my first beer in Egypt with. This is perhaps even more special because it was Ramadan.
Anyway, Costa and I headed out of there around 10:30 so that I could get to the signing of my apartment on time. This was totally irrelevant as the Landlady showed up an hour late and our broker showed up at midnight.
the apartment didn't go through for the following reasons:
1. She's religious. She was told it was just going to be Karoline and I but when she saw that Karoline had found a third guy to live with us, she didn't like it.
2. This, I think, caused her to want us to pay 300 pounds per month for a cleaning lady. This was not optional and she would have had to come at least 3 times a week. I think this was in order to spy on us.
3. she wanted us to sign her contract, all in Arabic, not the one our broker had presented to us the day before.
4. She didn't want us to be registered with the police as local residents.

The germans (the two other flatmates, Karoline and Andreas) were in a hurry to sign and really wanted to sign. I'm happy I didn't. Even though this probably would have been really fine and was super close to our school, it seemed shady.

At two in the morning we start driving around with our broker. I don't know why we couldn't have just waited til the next day. He finds us an apartment for quite a bit more but also nice. No bullshit with the landlord, we sign, I slept in my first apartment last night. I also went to be at 5h30 because I had to email a certain someone to tell them about this, and probably to think it over too.

Oh, and also, today was also the day that Sofie called me (for the first 'time') to tell me that she bought her plane tickets to come see me. now 15 days and counting. So basically, even before I got this call, but much more so after, Karoline had to put up with me repeating every 4 or 6 minutes "my girlfriend's coming, my girlfriend's coming, my girlfriend's coming". This could also be replaced by a big smile on my face and would be understood as the same thing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cairo day 8

It's been 8 days since I last kissed my girlfriend. I don't know why 8 days. that's one week plus one day. Seven days too many.

Met Katerine at ILI at 10h30. Looked at more crap apartments. Wanted to shoot these 'most scrupuless, dark, conscience-less creatures' in the knees.
Finally, we called this apartment broker that I heard of through a friend who studied here and on Craig's list Egypt. Named Alex.
Showed us a place 4000 L.E. per month. Plus commission for him. Tomorrow we're signing a 6 month contract. It should figure out to be 300 US per person Assuming we find a 3rd roommate. We will certainly. I think we'll have one 2 days from now.

The apartment. For those who know my house in Chicago: the kitchen is half my Chicago Kitchen. The living room is about 3/4ths the living room in Chicago. The 3 bedrooms are all about the size of my room on the bottom floor. One has a bathroom in it as well. Master Bedroom :-)

so all and all i'd pay 300 per month all included. Including broker fees and doormen fees, garbage man, utilities. but no internet... I'll be spending time in internet cafes and my school's wireless...

Plus we got a call from this Italian guy we met today at ILI who said he knows someone looking. This phone call took place over the Nile. There are plenty of people looking for a room so it shouldn't be hard to rent out. yay. wow. tomorrow I sign my first contract!
This is slightly terrifying.

For dinner tonight, Chris, Katerine, and three girls she knows and I, went out for dinner. Apparently this was the most expensive restaurant of Cairo, or one of the most, but I couldn't taste that... I 'dropped about 22 dollars. Good think i'm not hungry anymore but It didn't beat 20 dollars at Andalouse Morocan on clark street in Chi-town. Not any day. I'll stick to my street food, thank you.

Tomorrow, my first apartment.

Cairo day 7 (one day late)

Yesterday was a good day... I think.
to tell the truth, days are so filled with new things here, they seem much longer than the regular 24 hours.
let me think.
oh yes.
I searched to a DHL. I tried to send a key for a bike lock to my dad. This was priced at about 500 pounds or 100 US dollars. No thank you.
There is also something else that I wish to send to a certain special someone but that was also overpriced. I should have 'asked to speak to his manager'
I will try the conventional post office, once I found one, as they do exist, apparently.

Then I wandered over to my school in quest of an apartment. I met this German girl who is also looking for an apartment. She was fresh off the plane (fop, as opposed to a fob heheh Van...) and being german, I think, was freaking out about not having an apartment yet. This was a good and ever more important contrast to my laid back 'I'll find one soon enough' attitude. We went looking at a few places through our school but all were very dirty and unlivable. and pricey too.
I think this girl's name is Karoline? or Kristen? I should know, It's been 2 days since i've known her... Karoline, I just checked my phone for the 10th time.
Then I showed Karoline around this really shady part of town, by the textile mart. We saw heards of goats and sheep and cows in these streets. IN CAIRO, like 10 min walk from the Nile. Crazy.

After this, Chris, Karoline and I went out for a meal. We found a place to eat for 15 pounds. An iftar meal around 18h15. This seemed like a good deal but the bill ended up being 25 total per meal. This was a rip off. They tried to charge up 10 extra for bowls of rice which we thought were included. We left what we thought was right and walked off. no Problem.
I think we all called it a night.
oh no! After that K went to her hostel and I met these awesome friends of Chris. They were awesome and really nice. I'm going to see them again and talk more about them next week when they come back from Alexandria.
then we called it a night.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cairo day 6

I woke up at noon. Met up with Chris to go over some Arabic. This was very helpful.

Then I wandered back to the Nile along side this big expressway. I ended up not at all where I wanted to be but that was ok, my goal was to get to this textile market a little north of where I was. Walking through the hot hot sun, I finally find this neighborhood that probably sells much of the motor parts of Cairo. If ever u need a drive shaft in Cairo I know where to find on cheap... Just a little bit further was this Textile place. It was literally about 4 square blocks of pure textile shops. Reminded me of Joanne's times a bizillion.

Someone handed me a free meal in the street. Part of the whole generosity during Ramadan.

Around 9pm I went out to see an apartment in Zamalek. Z is the most expensive neighborhood in Cairo. This place was HUGE. It had a GIANT living room. Unfortunately it was also 2000 pounds rent all included which is about $400. I know I can find cheaper in Mohandeseen, like 1500 L.E. for the same thing or better.

On the taxi ride back I talked to this driver who was super nice. We exchanged numbers and he's probably going to call me with stuff to see. Shady, but I have nothing to lose.

Started proofreading this french text. Riddled with incoherent crap.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cairo day 5

So the first word Arabic students in the US learn is "the United Nations" the second word is "literature".
Useless, right?
A few chapters later you learn a word describing the concept of 'overcrowdedness' (al-iztihand).
Even more useless, no?
Not. I now know why that word is so crucial to preparing one to live in Cairo.
Walking back from the bustling Ramses square after hanging out with Chris took a good 25 minutes. For maybe 10 minutes it was dead quiet, then I just turned into times square on New Year's F-ing eve. Everyone, everywhere, everything, all. Table and tables of people eating, smoking sheesha, reading, chatting, gossiping, shopping for shoes, doing groceries, just plain old loitering, dude. My walk back, mind you, took place between midnight and 0u40 ;-) Like c'mon people, don't you have a BED to be in?

This was also the fist time I could feel pollution on my skin and had to blink noticeably more often to clean my eyes from the exhaust fumes.

And in the middle of all this, and a brightly lit street, I see this Nicabi woman looking into a lingerie shop's window at some mannequins wearing very revealing night-gown/lingerie type clothes. (For those of you who are not Arab-wardrobe inclined, a nicab is that gown that covers the whole body except the eyes...)

-Like DAMN girl, that's got me wondering what you're WEARING under that thang, what kind of engine's purring under that hood... Hopefully, only her husband knows.
But doesn't that defy the point of a nicab?

So I keep on walking back and I come to Talat Harb square. I hear this really loud speech being broadcast out onto this square. So I'm like what is that? What are they talking about? It's being broadcast from some balcony so maybe someone's giving a speech or something inside.
Whatever, I go to a nearby Egyptian fast food place to get my $.20 fool paddy, beans in bread, reminds me of Mexican food and Chicago and Ghent in the future... :) I get my fool food and a soft drink, just because, not at all out of hunger, and chill at the square and sat there listening to this speech.
I quickly figured out it was your good old dose of nocturnal Ramadan propaganda. I could make out it was different personalities lauding the president and the country for the many advances they were undertaking. All of this being blasted out over this heavily frequented square in Downtown Cairo.
This explained the large number of policemen who were patrolling the square. It also probably had something to do with these two weird trucks full of military personnel/riot police?...

Quick Fact: Mubarak, the current president, won the last elections in a landslide of 88.5% of the vote with only a mere 23% turnout. Go M!

And here's this French looking dude (twice people have stopped me asking me if I'm French, never if I'm American) listening to propaganda because it's good practice while everyone else walks by on their cell phones not paying attention at all.

Maybe tomorrow I'll figure out the 'United Nations' and 'literature' conundrums.

Pictures with the following captions to follow when connection improves:

1. People certainly not praying before they break their fast. Under an expressway, breaking fast.
2. wft?
3. Talat Harb square.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cairo day 4

Ate my Danish pastry.
Left my room around 13h.
Walked to the Egyptian Museum.
Didn't go in, didn't feel like it. Found Costa's Coffee shop on El Falaky street. Discovered it is a rip off for Americans who dearly miss their starbucks coffee shops. Will not go there again.
Will miss the air conditioning.
Oh well.

Got lost some more in Downtown. Found Opera square. Got offered a suit for 380 pounds(70 bucks). Declined but was intrigued. I will surely have a suit made while I am here.

Getting lost takes a while. Getting in and getting out of the lost status that is.
Tomorrow I shall get lost somewhere else.

My current favorite pastime is getting lost.

I returned to my apartment and soon left for my new favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant for 10 pounds. Tomorrow, under my aegis, I will take Kemi and possibly Chris there.

Kemi's gonna get his butt kicked in Chess.

ok tomorrow I'm going to start reviewing Arabic. Fo Sho.

After this hole-in-the-wall restaurant, I went to Zamalek to meet up with Joey and his two roommates. They decided they all wanted their own room so I won't be living there. Today on Cairo Scholars I saw that afif, one of Joey's roommates, posted asking if there are any college sports bars in Cairo to follow College football... Hilarious...But hey

Then we went to a "party". All Americans. This girl challenged a guy to a push-up contest. He only did 58 in 2 minutes. She did 51. They sucked/suck. Keep that kind of behavior outside, please? and get a life outside of ROTC.

Hung out with Sijh from high school for 15 minutes in AUC Zamalek dorms. I had to get back before 23h to let Costi into our room. That dickwad isn't here yet...
I hope someone emails me soon.
no, not you ad, sorry.


Oh, today I got a job proofreading texts in French. Medieval Arab texts on water usage. More on that mañana.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cairo day 3

Woke up 10h. Techsupported with Adrian for about 6 hours about her guy probs. This was productive but I didn't get out to see the Egyptian Museum or get a haircut like I had hoped.

I read from the Herald Tribune and Le Monde. I drank tap water. I'm still not sick from the street food I ate last night. Around 18h this Chilean dude who was leaving tonight at 2am. His name was Ignacio. He introduced me to Chris, a really cool guy who got fed up with working for the gov and decided to learn Arabic to apply to really good schools for an International Relations Masters.

We got this overprice meal for 4 dollars with a Jamaican and Indian girl. Both of them are doing phds in the states. Then Ignacio and Eric and I met up with more people whose names I don't remember. A girl and a guy. Americans working here for some private contractor. Nice people. Chris and I then walked around and I bought lots of street food just to try it. Good times. I got a pastry for breakfast tomorrow. A Danish. And fool. and three shitty falafel.

Now I'm going to bed. Probably reading first/waiting for a text message from a certain special someone... HURRY UP!

Adrian says I will not have a nervous breakdown. I say Cairo isn't THAT polluted.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

cairo day 2

Emerged from my bed about 11h after going to sleep at 4h30.
Finally tore myself away from facebook pictures and emails and whatnot by 13h.
Walked down towards the Nile, got lost in Zamalek and ended up close to where I started after walking in a big circle around the lower half of the Nile. This was in a way a big waste of time and I would have been better paying $2 for a taxi but I also got a feel for that part of the city and am probably more familiar with it.

I randomly found this radioshack that sold me a sim card for my nokia. It was only $4 dollars. I put $2 dollars of credit which should be good for at least 22 minutes of calling to local cell phones or 20 local text messages. I'm pretty happy with this.

Then I took a taxi to Midan Sphinx square. This was still rather far from my school as I would soon discover from the blisters on my feet...

My school. ILI. Pretty cool. Kind of small. but so were the classrooms. This could very well be a good thing. So far I have only good things to say about it; it's ten minutes (by taxi) from my potential apartment in Zamalek ($240 per month internet not included) and they sent a good driver to pick me up at the airport/the pick up worked (i've realized now that tipping the driver 3 euros probably was enough to pay for half the ride but whatever, I know better now).

Then I taxied into zamalek and got lost more. This girl from Latvia who studies in London who is doing an internship at the Egyptian Museum here asked me how to get to the 24th of July road which I knew so we walked to it together and then went to a supermarket. There I randomly ran into some dudes I met yesterday of which a very nice Egyptian student at AUC.

Then I walked back to my hostel. On the way I got some food from a street place/restaurant. $2 for the meal. Good deal. Very filling.
Stopped by the Ramsese Hilton to look into prices for hotel rooms with views on the Nile...
Came back to my room. totally pooped. Will start studying some arabic/egyptian.

Maggie King is acting like a little child because she needed my advice on whether or not it was ok if she texted "hey" to a boy she has a crush on.

cairo day 1

"Living with art enhances, way beyond anything else, a way of living, a way of seeing." "It makes you smarter, makes you visually astute. It's a brain stimulant"
-Sherry Koppel

From some magazine I randomly read somewhere

living in a hostel with Constantine for the first few nights. Had lunch with C and then met some AUC students, namely a certain Joey Boyer with whom I might be sharing an apartment. Things seem good so far.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

gone to ardeche 2 hours suoth of Lyon

little or no blog service will be provided for the next two weeks. expect a return to civilization around August 17th

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I really wish I had gotten a haircut in Brazil.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I'm writing this from Sophie's bed at 11am

Traveler's tip number 2:
When possible, travel Air Canada. Air Canada speaks french, Air Canada has young hosteses, Air Canada goes through Montreal where all the girls are gorgeous, Air Canada serves wine for free with their meals, the meals are delicious, the seats are comfortable, I was able to sleep about 5 hours on a 7 hour flight. Travel Air Canada.

I brought my sister to la gare de Lyon and saw her off on the TGV for Lyon. She's going to stay with a friend of hers from primary school, just for the weekend. Then she's taking a train to Gap passing through Grenoble to stay with her Aunt Sylvie and her three cousins with whom she gets along with.
From there I walked over the Seine through some parks, got lost inside this huge university building (Henri 6 I believe) and finally found l'institut du monde Arab. I checked it out, went up to the 9th floor terrace for an awesome view but didn't go the actual museum.
Then I continued my way over to Sophie's and passed through the Lutece Arena. This arena way built by the romans in circa 100 AD. At this time, Paris was still called Lutece, Lutece is the Roman/Latin name they gave Paris. This arena is said to easily fit 10,000 people and perhaps as many as 17,000. I believe it was used for gladiator matches as well as theatre, perhaps. They rediscovered it in the late 19th century but it was almost destroyed to make way for some bus hanger. Luckly the Parisian people were in uproar and managed to have it preserved and restored. Now it serves as a park in the middle of Paris. Yesterday when I visited it, there were people taking their lunch break in it on the seats of the arena and others playing bacci ball where lions used to tear gladiators apart. Cool stuff.
At Sophies, I chatted a little bit with her parents and whatnot then out of the blue Stephanie scared the shit out of me. She surprised them and arrived from Turkey last night. Cool, welcome back Stephanie!
Well finally, somehow, Alex managed to leave a message on Sophie's cell phone saying that he was coming in at 15h06 (il a eu du mal avec l'heure apparament). We met him and his dad at the Paris gare du Nord (the train station that goes to the places North of Paris). We took his dad to see the Eiffel Tower and then took him back to his train for London. Short stay in Paris Mr. Thomas Nishida.
This was followed by meeting Stephana and Gwladys back at Sophie's. Then we all walked like 2 blocks to the "grande mosque de Paris" where we could not visit because it was Friday but where we were able to have some tea and eat some delicious pasteries. Then Olivier met us up there. He seems cool, he got his hair cut really short (by Stephana). After about and hour at the mosque, it was now 20h30 and the the supermarkets would be closing soon, we got out of there and went grocery shopping for our picnic along la Seine. And oooo what a picnic! MAN! wine, saucisson, cheese! everything one could ask for! I even got Sophie to feed me some stuff although it was short lived. This whole time Gwladys and I were chatting, catching up, which is always fun with her.
So we get up and start walking further into Paris along the Seine and like 30 seconds later there is this awesome capuera group with live music and capuera dancing and everything! soooo cool! they were very good too. we stayed about an hour watching them dance. AND THEN like, right next to them was a salsa dance party going on, right along la seine! again! awesome! and i think i dance salsa way better when i'm drunk. Although I was also just really exhausted. We walked back to some bar not too far from Sophie's but then I walked Gwladys back to a Taxi stand. She was going back to her bfs I think. She had to wake up early to go somewhere for a marriage with him. Good time though, oh and it was pouring as we were finding this taxi, Olivier was nice enough to lend me his dry sweater. so nice of him!
We soon when back to Sophies and crashed and man did I crash! must be jetlagged still. Sophie's sleeping in another bed. We're all here kind of sprawled out on matresses. France has less matress stores than Brazil.