Tag Archives: nile

Cairo boat-night view

I lied about the dates of the churches…one is a 9th century structure and the other is a 4th century structure but both

Cairo at night

were built on older things of significance, I think, and there is still a dispute between them as to who is the oldest.

There is a dog in our neighborhood that loves to bark at night. This is the reason I prefer stray cats to stray dogs…stray cats might look disgusting,occasionally sound like human children whenever they meow, or even engage in shrieking street fights, but they do not constantly produce loud noises for no reason. Moreover, they are more discriminatory (I believe) about where they mate and relieve themselves, producing a more respectable strolling experience alongside the highways of Cairo. I’m considering hiring our doorman to hunt down the offending dog and remove it–however he may please–to a different neighborhood permanently. I don’t need to know the details.

About four hours ago right now I was on a boat in the Nile. This time we were on a felucca–a wind powered vessel–and there was less dancing though an equal amount of pop Arabic music. Twenty five of us sat around the main body of the boat on a cushion lined couch and stared at each other from across the way for the first ten minutes of the trip before it occurred to us to engage in conversation with one another. Conversation commenced and as the sun went down, Cairo slowly looked more beautiful, the pollution fading away leaving just a sliver of the moon in the sky above the various high rises on the Giza side of the Nile.

While on the boat, one of our leaders got a call from a student from the program living in Midtown saying that there were clashes in Tahrir square. I’m still not sure what those were all about/if they were real since it became clear later on that nothing was going on. Earlier today, however, we did see tents in the square and there are plans for big-ish demonstrations on Friday. I tried to convince one of the people who work in the office at AUC to go to Tahrir and check out the sitch for me but it looks like I’ll have to do it myself come Friday post-prayer time.

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Don’t say no to Panda

I ate Sudanese food for the first time tonight and it was amazing.

We exited the metro station, walked about a block, went behind the crumbling wall of a half-built building, wound around an alley filled with sand, and entered a restaurant, the very definition of a hole in the wall. We ate chicken with sauce, meat with sauce, beans with sauce, lentils with sauce, chewy bread with sauce, and roasted whole Nile fish. Unfortunately, the word sauce doesn’t quite convey how delicious it tasted but just take my word for it: the spices were mixed up just right. The fish was also incredible…I plucked hot meat right off the ribs of a fish that someone had just strangled in the Nile itself. What a beautiful thing.

Next week roomies and I are starting a schedule where one of us takes one night a week to cook so hopefully I’ll start getting nourishment soon in the home. I don’t know the nutritional information of Hobnobs but I’m sure a diet solely relying on them is a quick route to scurvy.

This commercial for Panda Cheese, an Egyptian brand of cheese, is really funny. Enjoy.

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Here’s to vomit

Turns out there’s actually quite a bit of homework involved in this “fellowship” thing. I feel like I’ve spend most of the last 2 days plowing through the Yacoubian Building and I still have more work for tomorrow. Will it never end? Answer: most certainly not. But I’m not complaining.

After being stifled in my apartment all day aside from a misadventure to the grocery store that was characterized by paranoia, confusion, and congestion, I road a boat on the Nile for a little bit and then ended up having a fairly pleasant but perhaps not that interesting of a night with other human beings. We ended up at the Cairo Jazz Club and a really neat band, Station, was playing so we enjoyed moving to the rhythm for a spell before peacing. The band was a fusion of all kinds of styles and I could definitely feel a Sufi inclination in it…the beat in some of the songs felt like trance music and I wanted to let my hair down and float away.

But the story that I want to tell involves vomit and is from a few weeks ago. When we were still newly arrived to Doqqi, roommate and I were walking along one of the main streets and all of the sudden we saw a man that was ralphing up a storm right outside of a pharmacy. It was in the middle of the day and we weren’t sure what exactly was wrong with him, but out of nowhere he just started hurling almost directly in front of us into a drain. It was very strange. No one took notice, or maybe everyone turned a blind eye. I wish I could have done so.

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Didn’t understand and wouldn’t like it if I did

I saw a movie, “ِAn Ant’s Cry,” tonight. The experience was costly in a lot of ways…money, time, broken expectations. The group met outside of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, in the middle of an unfamiliar district that was in a wasteland of hospitals and other hotels along the Cornish of the Nile. I though it a random place to meet for a movie unless, of course, the milkshake shop we planned to visit beforehand was close by. It turns out both were about a twenty minute walk away, but we were not informed of the distance beforehand, so it seemed we were walking down the middle of the street, cars zooming past us, heading towards an undetermined destination for an infinite amount of time.

We reach the movie theater and it turns out there’s not enough time to get milkshakes before the movie starts. At any rate, tickets are purchased and then comes the best part of the night: the popcorn. Oh it was quite salty and delicious and gone within 3 minutes.  It was just the thing a weary traveler needs after a trek along the dusty streets of Cairo.

The usher shows us our seats in the movie theater, a baby sits directly behind me, and the movie begins. At this point, I saw the movie as a barrier between me and my milkshake. The movie finally ended after an hour and a half of blaring music and shouting that was less than half-understood. We were rewarded for our patience with milkshakes, which were large and relatively delicious.

So I guess the story has a satisfactory ending, despite the fact I made a critical error tonight when I said “I just want to try you” instead of “I just want to try it” regarding a dessert one of our friends had invited us to enjoy. Ooops. Pronouns are hard to get right sometimes.

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The Moon Eclipse and the Green Laser

I went back to the houseboat yesterday in order to witness a total eclipse of the moon happening over the Nile. Even without the eclipse, the view from the houseboat at night is awesome since you can see the cityscape reflected in a body of water, exactly the kind of view that seems to have pleased humans the world over for millenia. It was a little hard to appreciate the rarity of the event since it seemed somewhat anti-climactic.The entire evening centered around the moon disappearing completely and thus looking like the sky does 70 percent of the time at night. Maybe it would have been more interesting had we been out in the country somewhere where the pollution didn’t fog up the view so much.

Even though the eclipse only happens once every sixty years or something, I found the houseboat community to be more interesting.

It is made up entirely out of foreigners, and at one point, everyone was popping out on their balconies and talking to one another just like we were in some kind of sitcom. The guy to the right and below my friends apartment came out in his wifebeater and beer belly and informed us about the mechanics of a lunar eclipse as if we were troglodytes  just as the chipper British lady living next door appeared on her balcony-separated from friend’s balcony by only a screen- and began eating her dinner, which smelled delicious. According to what she said, it was just something she whipped up. The people on the left side were all on their roof and calling us to come over to hang out. For a reason that remains unknown, they had a ridiculously strong green laser that they were making good use of by shining it everywhere. I’m sure there were tons of fish blinded that night in the nile not to mention humans living in apartments across the way.

Eventually we did go over to his neighbors and sit on their roof and watch the moon finish disappearing and then slowly reappear. Expat meetings like that are always a little bizarre: everyone’s there for a different purpose and the only real similarity between all of us is that we all happen to not be from Egypt. In fact, in these houseboats and in many upper tier apartment buildings, Egyptians are completely prohibited. I have yet to understand all the reasons for this, but it appears that there is a significant amount of racism propogated by Egyptians onto Egyptians themselves, and so foreigners are preferred tenants oftentimes with a specific clause that there will be no Egyptian guests, though sometimes this only applies to Egyptian men. We’re learning about Egyptian tourism in my Egyptian dialect class, and apparently foreigners are preferred in hotels not only because they can usually pay more but also because Egyptians order too much food and have too many children that mess everything up. It’s interesting hearing from my Egyptian dialect teacher the reasons why Egyptians are generally not as welcome in some hotels….the investigation goes on.

Weekend now=more time for blogging.

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