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.