Tag Archives: ramadan

I’m Just Trying to Sweat On Some Strangers

Last night I was the proud and only occasionally unwilling participant of a house party that lasted until the sun came up. This was not an American house party, where you crank up the music in someone’s apartment and stand uncomfortably close to one another for two hours tops before you realize it is the worst thing in the world and then escape. This house party was a public party with “house” music at a club-like location somewhere near the pyramids.

I know that we were somewhere near the pyramids because I saw one as we were driving back in the early dawn. I also saw the sun itself, a fluorescent red disk rising over the Nile. And then I went home, saw I had no notifications on facebook, and went to bed. All in all it was a fun, enriching, and eye-bulging experience. Here’s an advertisement.

Saqqara Oasis: Where There Are No Worries Because Your Sweat Will Put Out the Molotov Cocktail Flames

Hey you! Yeah you with the “One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Dance floor” shirt!

Tired of squeezing into your tightest threads on Monday nights and then having nowhere to go? Do you yearn for a place where the music will make your heart feel like it’s about to explode, where the beat itself picks up you and throws you down in endless mini-earthquakes? Do you find perfect hearing a burden? If you have ever experienced these sentiments or eaten food, then Saqqara Oasis is your destination! You’ll always remember your bomb night at Saqqara tearing up the dance floor with your sick moves and hair product because your hearing will be permanently damaged and your brain seared with images of Egyptian youth like you’ve never wanted to see them before.

When was the last time you sweated so much you created a natural pattern of salt stains on your jeans and then sold them the next day at twice their original cost as haute couture?  Can’t remember? That means it’s been too long! Saqqara Oasis is your only solution. After you sweat your brains out, strip down to your boxers and cannon ball into the pool! Then climb out of the pool and GO CRAZY again! Be the dripping youth full of life that you have always wanted to be.

Are you incapable of experiencing “fun” on account of your extreme coolness? Do you get tremors thinking about your hair moving? Did you wear heels that came with a handicapped sticker? Saqqara is still the place for you! There are numerous locations at your disposal from which you can project an air of mind-blowing awesomeness while doing nothing except for staring at other people with a blank expression or bobbing your head. If desired, there is a short posing workshop before the party begins where you can learn all the latest hand, arm, and leg positions so you can put off the vibe you’ve always known you were capable of.

Have you ever felt like your hands, arms, and heart are actually a different being trying to flee from the rest of your body? Do they flail around wildly and cause your abdomen to move in an inhuman fashion to the eardrum bursting beat? Have you ever wiled out so hard that your body couldn’t handle itself? Have you ever become a music nymph in the heat of the moment? Come to Saqqara! Find your flailing friends and throw your flesh encasement around like it’s something you won’t need tomorrow!

Are you trying to inhale as much smoke as possible in an outdoor setting? Forget sheesha and come to Saqqara, where one could read by the light of the glowing cigarette butts if they weren’t too busy being AWESOME. Let us convince you that there is no better place to partake of second hand goodness. Don’t think you’re a good dancer? Our quasi-non-stop strobe policy will make whatever movements you are capable of producing seem out of this world, and just when you are getting used to making a fool out of yourself, we will flood the entire dance area with yellow light and reveal you sweat soaked youth for what you really are before returning the safety of pulsing darkness.

Saqqara Oasis: You will lose control, sweat, stay out for longer than you wanted to, go through an endless cycle of despairing of departure and then catching a second wind, and discover the heights of who you can be.

This means you too, cookie monster t-shirt.

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New Pile of Dirt on the Block

I literally thought, “That pile of dirt is gold.”

Tonight, on my way to another lung-blackening adventure in Cairo, I noticed a new pile of dirt on my street. I thought to myself, “Huh, that’s a new pile of dirt.” In spite of the Ramadan craziness that ensued in the Hussein area of Cairo (think: Rockefeller center at Christmas but without squishy coats) and throughout the hours of sheesha-sitting, I couldn’t stop thinking about the pile of dirt. Something about it resonated with me.“This,” I thought, “Is what true inspiration feels like.” As the night passed, I kept reminding myself that I must take a picture of it, to keep and to hold.

Hours later I arrived back at my apartment, switched the air conditioning on, threw off half my clothes and suddenly realized I hadn’t taken a picture of the pile of dirt. My innards began to swim in turmoil. Do I let the moment pass, or do I try to seize the pile of dirt handful by handful (so to speak) and leave my apartment at 2 am in the morning to capture it on film? I think we all know what happened. The pile of dirt inspired the following.

Dear Piles of Dirt International, Inc.:

I see you delivered the pile of dirt I requested. I appreciate your patience with my order since my fax machine was broken for some time and kept on sending all of my piles of dirt requests to Toys “R” Us headquarters in Wayne, New Jersey. Apparently there is a hot new toy for city kids called “Pile O’Dirt” so there was quite a bit of confusion on both ends. I am glad to see that one request finally made it through to you, though I do have a few notes on your manner and timing of delivery.

First of all, I requested this pile of dirt almost two months ago. It was supposed to be a belated engagement present for my sister since she is in Physician’s Assistant school and one of her activities is “reconnecting with sterilized nature indoors.”  Through practice, the future P.A.s learn how to simultaneously sympathize with and look down upon people visiting their Wal-mart Clinics who are involved in agriculture. The dirt she is required to purchase and then sit in can be very expensive, so I thought I would shoulder some of the financial burden by providing it for her at a reduced cost. I just want her marriage to succeed. This brings me to my next point.

She is not studying to become a Physician’s Assistant in Doqqi, Cairo. She is in Oklahoma, USA. In fact, she lives a five minute walk away from your main office. I am puzzled, therefore, as to why the pile of dirt has arrived in here in Egypt. The form clearly stated the recipient of the dirt and her location. I even specified that it was to be carefully placed in the newly installed dirt-holding hut at her home. I don’t even recall writing my address or location on the form, though I was experimenting with a different kind of Egyptian peanut butter that night so it’s difficult to remember exactly what happened. Perhaps that has something to do with all the “Pile O’Dirts” I’ve gotten as well. Moving on.

Even had I wanted the pile of dirt for myself, the style of delivery was completely unacceptable. Your workers, supposedly the best in the field, had apparently indulged in Egyptian liquor before the requested midnight delivery. By the way, the one thing your company got correct was the surreptitious delivery at a bizarre time. Nevertheless, because their stupor or extreme ineptitude, they mistakenly deposited the entire pile of dirt outside a coffee shop where anyone could just up and take it. Not only will your workers likely be afflicted by blindness because of the Egyptian alcohol, but the pile of dirt is blocking a total of two cars, the owners of which are likely blinded by rage.

The last and perhaps most important point is that the sterility of the pile of dirt is completely ruined. That is actual litter in the photo. God knows what else has crept into it by now. Even were my sister be present, it would be completely useless for her exercise unless she wanted to better understand feral animals. Needless to say, I would like the pile of dirt removed and placed in front of our landlord’s car, a full refund, and a voucher for two free piles of dirt in the future.

Thank you for your time,


P.S. I will be writing an unfavorable review for you on Angie’s List, noting that there were sizable rocks included in the pile of dirt when I specifically requested only small to medium pebbles.

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Ready, Set, Feast!

Post-iftar….destruction in the wake of the swarm

I have eaten every day of Ramadan. Everyday, I wake and eat breakfast, wait a little while, then eat dinner, wait a little while more, and then eat my spoonful of peanut butter about 2 hours before bedtime. This differs from how fasting Muslims eat during Ramadan in a number of ways, mostly the part involving eating during the day and probably the peanut butter as well.

From the time of the call to prayer around 3:30 am to the sunset call to prayer around 6:45 pm, fasting Muslims are not to eat any food or drink any water. Though one is ravenous, eating is prohibited even slightly before hearing the sunset call to prayer. Feel free to twirl your fingers in a bowl of spaghetti or dunk your head in a puddle, but none of those substances may enter your body and begin journeying through the digestive tract.

Though I have eaten out in restaurants frequently during Ramadan, honoring my pledge to cook for myself no more than 3 times a month, I have only eaten twice in a restaurant right at the time of iftar, the break fast, the moment everyone has been waiting for with grumbling tummies and cottonmouth .

Tonight was one of those times twain: we arrive to the restaurant a little late, at about 6:30, and it is completely filled with patrons who are neither eating nor drinking. A buzz fills the air as people converse hungrily with one another, the waiters flit around setting food on tables, and others customers stare off into space, tiny drumsticks floating above their heads.

The hour continues to approach; the buzz reaches its height. Many tables are completely filled with delicious treats like hot bread the size of a large pizza and steaming bowls of meat and spices…oh joy! I stare at the food on everyone’s table as they gaze into space, trying to forget about their hunger during these last painful minutes.  The victuals themselves begin to speak in honeyed tongues, tempting the hungry souls:

“I’m a refreshing bottle of cool water….drink me! It’s almost time anyways, what does God care if one of his thirsty and deserving servants takes just one sip before the call to prayer? You know Auntie Fatima is going to elbow you out of the way as soon as she hears it just like she did last night…she’s always the first one to drink and no one says anything because her husband died ten years ago. As if you could blame him for wanting to escape her. Cowards! Drink me! Drink me!”

“I’m a tasty piece of roast meat….look at the color of my skin. Just look at how golden and crinkly it is! Look at it! How tender I am underneath a swift crunch! I just popped out of the oven. Can you detect the meaty scent wafting off the sides of me? I’m getting colder by the second! Auntie Fatima’s fleshy paw is going to grab me before you’ll ever sink your teeth into me. Eat me! Eat me now!”

And just when the temptation seems unbearable and even death would be preferable to this never ending hell, a waiter turns the television up. Could it be?? Yes! It is! It’s the call to prayer ( played 5 times a day on many television stations. I’m not sure which ones). Someone begins drinking water, the rest soon following in a joyous free for all in which no one is blamed for chewing too loudly, putting another mouthful of food in before finishing the last one, or knocking their little sister over while reaching for the juice. Images that come to mind when viewing the scene: my family around a plate of hot cookies, the game hungry hungry hippos, and swarms of any kind, barring swarms of koala bears or sloths.

I find myself eating with extra vigor despite the fact I was not fasting. In fact, I had just eaten my 6 o’clock snack to make sure I wasn’t insane with hunger when we got to the restaurant, in effect avoiding anything resembling a fast. I guess we all celebrate Ramadan differently.

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One Day in Post-Revolutionary Cairo

Fellow revolutionaries.

WARNING: extreme content ahead. Approach with caution.

1:00 pm: Wake up! Surf the Egyptian internet! Eat natural yoghurt and granola! Brush my teeth! Whoa!

3:00 pm: Go to a friend’s crazy air-conditioned apartment…! Wile out and watch True Blood and eat insane pancakes! Clean up the kitchen! This is Cairo, baby!

8:00 pm: Politely say goodbye to the hella gracious host! Wish him a speedy recovery since he’s feeling under the weather–more pancakes to eat in the fridge, bro! Dominate the elevator all the way down to the ground floor…in Cairo! Sick!

8:30 pm: Sit in the shade to get out of the sun—-naw, just kidding, man! The sun’s long gone. This is night Cairo now! Stroll to a rooftop café! Sit for hours and discuss religion! Too extreme for you?? Too bad cupcake, you’re in Cairo!

10:00 pm: Hey, Mr. Waiter! What say you revolutionize my sheesha with more coals? You know how we roll!

12:00 am: Get home to avoid being locked out! Make a gnarly cup of Nescafe! Uh oh—the internet’s not working. Night ruined? Not a chance! Break out the Arrested Development DVDs! This night just got more extreeeeeeeeeeeeme!

3:00 am: It’s Madame Bovary time! Classical French literature is so subversive!

6:00 am: Journaling so hard right now! Tons of feelings and awesome thoughts! All you mopey teenagers ain’t got nothin’ on me! Chilla!

7:00 am: See ya later, Cairo! Get ready to rock it hard tomorrow, and by that I mean today—the sun’s already up! Yeah! I be playin’ it vampire style!

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Saw this on the first of my many breakfast walks

The Ramadan sun sets over Cairo. A tumbleweed blows through Messaha Square. One man hurries homeward in the twilight, eager to get to his loved ones.  It appears that Cairo itself has come to a halt.

These scenes characterize the time of the break fast, when all of Cairo gathers with friends or family around food seasoned with hunger, the best of spices, and prepares to eat for the first time that day. Yet while most everyone else is otherwise occupied, this hour between 6:30 and 7:30 is my time to shine. It’s ramadominate time.

At this hour I take full advantage of the lack of traffic and prowl the streets, experiencing what life in Cairo would be like if it were pleasant, devoid of its constant din. While I walk, I also get a chance to stare at people as they break the fast together near their vegetable carts or coffee shops. Don’t mind my staring, I’m just ramadominating.

These walks I go on are only one of many ways I am currently squeezing the best juice out of my time grapes (30 rock reference), and when I say these walks I should clarify that I’ve only done this once, but have every intention of doing it again. You might be asking yourself how you can ramadominate as well. Here’s some advice that I have found helpful:

Do not go to bed before 5 am, and while you’re at it, you can forget about “morning.” True ramadomiators do not wake up before 1 pm.

Spend plenty of time on the internet looking at blogs about strangers’ “musings,” occasionally performing a half hearted craig’s list job search.

Stare at the two glasses of water that have been sitting on the table for about a week and decide they can wait until tomorrow to be put into the kitchen.

Eat Egyptian brand Ramen noodles once a week for sustenance, and peanut butter for all other meals except for dinner which you should eat in an expensive restaurant, spending more than what is reasonable for your salary, which is in peanuts.

Mooch off of people that have nicer apartments complete with un-mysterious stoves and cook things in them. In general, one should impose on others’ hospitality as much as possible in true ramadominate fashion.

Convince yourself that reading a classic novel for 30 minutes a day makes up for the fact you pay no attention to the news whatsoever and obtain most of your information in digest form from your more intelligent and well informed friends.

But expensive sample packs of Ritter chocolate and look forward to when you will be able to eat one and drink your coffee at 8 o’clock in the evening. Silently curse your friends when they make plans that interfere with this date with yourself.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of how you can ramadominate, but it contains the most important element: the creepy sleep schedule.  Eventually I plan to become completely nocturnal and sleep from 10 am to 6 pm, at which point I will be awarded the Nobel Prize in Ramadominating for figuring out the way to enjoy the best and coolest parts of the day.

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