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 maƱana.

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.