Monday, December 18, 2006

I realized I haven’t updated on the apartment situation since moving in….two words…LOVING IT! I seriously feel like I am living in the lap of luxury (by cairo standards). Some might say (yes you know who you are) that living on an 18th floor penthouse is giving me a big head. I wouldn’t disagree so easily!

And yes, it’s true you can see the Pyramids from my balcony! In fact, if my curtains aren’t drawn, I can sit up and see them from the comforts of my own bed. Every morning, I get up, go out on to my balcony and say hello to Cairo. The noise of the traffic, the crisp Cairo winter morning shielded by the hot sun on my face, and of course the gorgeous view……pretty sweet for a wake-up call.

Nay-Nay and I already have a routine. Every evening we laze out on our living room couch, which is an amazingly cosy L-shape, turn the heater on - get on our laptops and waste the hours away. Sometimes we’re so lazy we even IM each other on gmail and facebook. I’m so glad she understands me! We do however have a New Years resolution. After Jan 1, we’re only allowed a maximum of 1 hour internet lazing time on the couch, after that we have go out and enjoy Cairo for what it is! And if that doesn’t work, Resolution #2 is to break both laptops.

And did I mention that my new roomie is a fantastic dancer?? Nay-Nay has been dancing since she was 3 and she rocks every single party we have here….so I get a grrrreat view and free dance lessons. What a sweet deal! :D

the good and the bad

So Saturday night was the epitome of my taxi riding experiences here in Cairo. For the first time ever, my cabbie refused to take payment from me!

It all started with him asking me where I was from. Then he asked what I was doing here in Cairo. (Oh and amazingly, I have no idea how you ask these in Arabic, but you start recognizing these questions when you hear them like a billion times)…and since I am queen paranoia, I decided to use my newfound bank of useful Arabic phrases...

So I told him I was married. To an Egyptian.

You should’ve seen him after that. He just wouldn’t stop talking! He kept proclaiming things, showing me the thumbs up, and telling me at one point that my face was full of ‘noor’ (pointing to the car lights to make sure I understood). I didn’t understand 95% of what he said, but I did get when he asked me whether I was going to stay in Egypt, to which I replied, “La! Me and my Egyptian husband are moving to Canada”. Don’t ask. Lol. I actually kinda enjoyed my make-believe story, and felt happy that I had married a man from a country of nice cab drivers. Oh and by the way, he’s super hot too. And has a nice car.

Before stepping out of my cab, mr nice cabby man kept saying something, but I had no idea what it was…... At times like this, I wish I knew Arabic, because he seemed like a nice man trying to say genuinely nice things to me :)

the mother ship has landed

My mama is here in Cairo! Which explains me being slightly M.I.A. It has been busy, busy, busy. Going to work, not going to work, looking for another job/traineeship in Cairo (more on this later), and taking mum out as much as possible….AND getting my beauty sleep has been hectic! My dad flies in today and together mum and dad fly out to Dubai on Friday morning. And I join them in Dubai on Sunday!! Will be spending Christmas in DUbai, as a very close friend of mum’s is throwing her daughter’s wedding there the very same week.

About my mum – did I ever mention what a star she is? Fourth day in Cairo, and she trekked it ALL ALONE to Khan El Khalili, didn’t get ripped off by the cabbie or shopkeepers, and made it back one piece! Even I haven’t done this! I HATE going to Khan, it gives me a monstrous headache, so mum has had to fend for herself. She’s been doing this on a daily basis, going out alone, exploring different shopping districts (lol) and coming home and showing me her finds. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to do so much sightseeing as it gets dark by 5pm and I’m usually so busy during the day. But hopefully until Friday, Mum will be able to do some exploring with her hubby dearest.

Most importantly, I have been so gastronomically satisfied in the last week and half, because my mother is officially the best cook in the world, and after 1 month of fattah’s, koushary’s and not so great shwarma’s – coming home to mum’s prawn curry is like exploding in culinary happiness. (ok that phrase has probably never been used, but I’m just not sure how to describe the feeling I get from eating mum’s food). And I’m not the only one. Kent has been comin over to enjoy my mum’s company, cooking and bonding with her by gangin up against me! I WILL HAVE MY NUTELLA, and nobody can stop me!! Check out his blog post about cooking with mama dearest.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

“Ana mit-gow-ay-za….I am married!”

A useful phrase to know, when your prepubescent taxi driver starts telling you he wants to be your 'friend' because he realizes in the 5 minutes you’ve sat in his cab that “Inti I Love You”. I only wish I had known how to say this BEFORE embarking on this most eventful-yet-common activity of catching taxis in Cairo.

Seriously, all my stories seem to emanate from taxi journeys here!

Did you know? When entering a taxi with food in your hands, it is only polite to offer your driver a bite. Imagine the double take I did when I saw Omar offering his sandwich to our taxi driver one day. Am I selfish if I don’t want to do that…? Am I elitist for thinking I'm gonna get taxi driver cooties? Should I be shot?

Byebye Percy

My first farewell in Cairo! People are already starting to leave..... Last Friday, Percy left Cairo after 5 months here!

Percy is from Mumbai, India and although I've only known him for like a month, I felt quite sad that he was leaving. Being a trainee here means you get attached to fellow trainees quite easily, they're all you have! He's a gentle soul, something hard to find....especially when you got me barraging him with questions about Zoroastrians on our first conversation. Percy is officially the first Parsi I have ever met in my life - i thought that was so cool! I've always read so much about them in books, and now I finally met one :P

Anyway, here's to Percy - and as I've said so many times this year - it's not the end, i don't do catch you soon (dont be surprised if i turn up in mumbai)! xx

Peace in this dusty heaven

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Monday, December 04, 2006

As usual, I am late. I’m meant to meet Nay-Nay at the supermarket to go for our first grocery shopping expedition. By the time I’m there, she’s done and coming back with 3 big bags of shopping. I ask her how much she spent, and realize I’m pitifully equipped with 30 pounds in my handbag. But I go ahead anyway.

Get to the supermarket and realize I don’t know Egyptian numbers….!

3 weeks in Cairo and I cant even read their goddamn numbers as yet. So I scope out everything with a price in single digits. If it’s a single digit, I must be able to afford it! Another good tip: Buy only products with Arabic writing on them i.e local produce. Cornflakes? Buy the Arabic version. Butter? Arabic butter, very good, very cheap.

Somehow, I manage to scrape by, paying only LE 34.50…..phew!!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

encounters on a cairean train

I’m on the train back to Cairo, and as we approach the station, a non-Arab looking woman asks me something in Arabic. I give her my usual, “No Arabic” and then she looks at me for a second, and asks, “Hablas Espanol? Speak Spanish?” I reply, “Si, un poco! Yes, a little!” and a wonderful conversation ensues.

She tells me she is from Argentina, here to do a project related to a philosopher she follows named Silo, she gives me a book about him, we exchange email addresses and finally part with a hug outside the station. Despite the odd stilted sentences, I’m uplifted for the rest of the evening. I’m ecstatic just for the fact that she *thought* I might speak Spanish, and thought to ask me so simply…as random as it was. I mean, who goes around Egypt asking people if they speak Spanish!

Ironic too, that the first full-fledged conversation I have with a non-English speaking stranger in Egypt…….is carried out in Spanish!!! While struggling with the language barrier here in Egypt, I find myself constantly with Spanish words on the tip of my tongue when I’m trying to communicate with people, just because it’s the only foreign language I know! Just convinces me further that I need to go to Spain or Latin America….InshaAllah, my next traineeship :)