Tag Archives: stories

The land of tiny pink ponies and tiny pink pony eaters

His name is Ralph.

The world was mostly pink with touches of pastel. The little pink ponies could and did defecate everywhere and no one was the wiser since their feces looked like little piles of pastel colored marshmallows that blended in with the pink and blue speckled grass. Even the air smelled faintly like bubble gum which was, of course, the result of pink pony farts. This magical pony fart scented land was known far and wide as Yoggin.

The fauna of Yoggin consisted mostly of tiny pink ponies, lavender land sharks, and glittery anteaters. The land sharks and the anteaters mostly kept to themselves, alternating long tournaments of backgammon with failed attempts at climbing the pink pine fir trees, so the ponies were free to scamper about the earth as freely as they could please.  The one restriction on their scampering was the unfortunate presence of giant monsters that lived solely off of the marshmallow flavored blood of the ponies. The monsters had insatiable appetites, and the ponies lived in mind numbing terror at being the next adorable horsey to go crunch between monster mandibles.

The ponies were no bigger than my grandmother’s Hummel figurines and ran around in petite herds, darting between the pink pine fir trees, pink ferns, and other pink vegetation much like pink schools of fish. It often seemed they moved as one creature, closely adhering to herd orders and ever mindful of the dreaded pink pony eater’s footstep.  In Yoggin, the clouds are pink, the sky a lovely robin’s egg blue, the sun pastel yellow, and the gently rolling hills are speckled pastel blue and pink. The pink shrubs nestle their limbs against the trunks of the pink pine fir trees, and the ferns’ leaves tickle the snouts of the pink ponies as they prance along.

The river that gently flows in the valley of the soft hills is heavily polluted. A noxious stench rises from its toxic waters that the little pink ponies are drawn to. Despite the innumerable corpses littering the riverside, at least once a month each herd loses a pony or two to the insanity that comes over them when they smell the wretched scent. Just like the sirens of old, the smell lures them and then sucks them down into the putrid waters where their soft pink flesh is digested within minutes and their cute skeletons spat back out on the playful earth. The pink pony eaters monitor the river closely to try to catch the creatures as they are seduced to their death, which is why once the ponies leave the herd, they are left behind forever. It is too dangerous to try to rescue them with a lullaby whinny or a prancy dance.

For many years, the pink pony tribes lived in peace with one another and there was much happiness in the land, despite regular pony disappearances because of the monsters.But that all changed one summer when Billy the pink pony decided he wanted to go to music school. The next year, Yoggin lay in ruins.

To be continued….

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Jasmine Yearns

In the movie Aladdin, Disney’s fantasy powerhouse translates a One Thousand and One Night’s story likely filled with licentious characters, murder, and the utter evil of mankind into a tale involving a blue genie, a sorcerer serpent, and characters wearing egregiously fluffy pants that find true love in less than 24 hours. Most people have agreed that the depiction of the Near and Farther East is spot-on and lacks nothing except for more harems scene and a speedier love and marriage process.

I bring this movie up because recently, feeling a little more adventurous than usual, friends and I decided to watch Aladdin after a successful soup making endeavor. While watching it, I couldn’t help but notice the incredible parallels between the world of the American University of Cairo and the poorer neighborhoods of this dusty city: Jasmine’s palace and Aladdin’s shabby home smacked of the walls of AUC’s Tahrir campus and the winding markets of Islamic Cairo.

I decided to flesh out this idea and undertake a partial retelling of the story (aided in party by friends’ input), in order to place it  in a more realistic setting and deflate it completely of any magic it may have once had.

Without further ado:

Once upon a time, in a city of 20 million people called Cairo, there lived a lonely Egyptian girl named Jasmine. Daughter of a natural gas CEO, Jasmine is quite wealthy and studies Literature at AUC’s new campus. The one time she saw Tahrir Square was on television, also the only place she has seen any kind of market selling food. She dresses in the latest styles of skinny jeans and exclusively wears heels that are taller than 5 inches and made out of some kind of animal.

She owns a tiny dog that she dresses in clothing like a human. Though the dog is yappy, incapable of being potty trained, and disliked by the family, her father lets her keep Dot because it was a gift to Jasmine after her mother’s death. Also he’s never disciplined his daughter or denied her anything so it would be awkward to begin now after 20 years of blind pacification.

Yet he tires of her maintenance and really wants her and Dot to get out. The best way to do this, of course, is to marry her off to the next CEO’s son she meets at the McDonald’s on campus. Unfortunately, she has proven an unwilling participant in this marriage endeavor, having watched Titanic too many times. Now, like Jack and Rose, she wants raw, uneducated love from an unpretentious commoner, a regular shab (young man) from Shubra (poorer area of Cairo).

She’s even tried to sneak off with the car and leave the suburbs in attempts to meet the common folk of her city. For her own protection, her father has prohibited her from leaving the confines of their gated community or the gates of the university. Yet she grows restless, yearning for the authenticity she cannot find amongst the waxed eyebrows and chests of AUC. One day, she takes matters into her own hands, bribes the necessary people, and gets her hands on the car keys. Little does she know how much her life is about to change.

to be continued……

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The Coffee Grinder Saga, Part 2

(This story is continued from yesterday….when I left you I was debating whether or not to plug in someone else’s coffee grinder of unknown current needs into a 220V outlet, a decision that may or may not lead to disaster)

After hesitating briefly, I decided I didn’t need anyone’s help and boldly plugged the coffee grinder into the 220V outlet and flipped the switch. Pop!…..(silence). These are the sounds that came from the machine; they were not the sounds of coffee beans changing into a powdered state.

And just like that, with a friendly popping sound, my life had changed. It seemed the universe was laughing at me.  Why hadn’t there been an earthquake to indicate the scale of the fiasco? Lightening bolts and pigs flying? A flood and a plague of locusts? The catastrophe didn’t seem real. I imagined that if I ran away, the whole problem would disappear as fast as it had surged into existence.

But I didn’t, and the appliance didn’t magically start working when I tried turning it on and off and putting it into the other outlet. It was, as they say, “fried.”  Then I  thought, “It’s just a coffee grinder…how expensive could it be to get a new one?” Even as I thought this, I knew in my heart of hearts that it could be very expensive. I had felt how heavy that machine was. I had seen KitchenAid Pro-Line written on its stainless steel side. This appliance had not been meant for the grubby hands of semi-dedicated Arabic students. How had I dared touch the cooking tools of my superiors?

$250 dollars from KitchenAid.com. That was how much this machine cost. 250 smackaroos, big ones, green backs, etc. That’s approximately 1500 Egyptian Pounds, or half of my monthly stipend, or 375 pounds of falafel sandwiches. My heart sank thinking about all those truckloads of sandwich.

If I could just go back and infuse myself with a desire to go to bed early, or afflict myself with a horrible illness, or make me love learning about voltages and currents, then we wouldn’t be in this situation. And yet, here we are. Here I am. And I will foot this bill like the semi-dedicated Arabic student that I am. Hopefully it can be repaired, but if not, I will cross desert and sea in order to bring back another one. And after that, even though I shouldn’t, I will feel entitled to use it whenever I want to go over even more frequently to the apartment filled with expensive things that break all too easily. Someone else, of course, will plug them in.

My Arabic teacher always thanks us for making mistakes so we can learn from them, so here are some takeaways from this experience so far:

1. Voltages matter.

2. There are some things no amount of education can cure.

3. Expensive things break as easily as cheap things.

4. Running away is always an option.

5. The value of money is relative.

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