Thursday, October 12, 2006


First a quick word on my absence from this blog over the past month and a brief update on what I'm up to now.

About a month ago, my computer decided that it couldn't handle the culture shock of Egypt and had a total meltdown. When I tried to turn it on it sounded as though some small animal was loose inside and the screen wouldn't even pretend to be making an effort. So about one month of back and forth with the computer company has left the computer back in my hands with a whole new hard drive and all my old files deleted. I've saved my old hard drive in the hopes that some American computer geek can do what several Egyptian computer geeks were unable to do. While my computer was on the fritz I never managed to post from the over-priced, smoky, and incredibly slow internet cafes around. Now I'm back and I'm determined to post several times a week for my last two and a half months in Cairo.

But enough about computers….

Let me give you a quick news update, although I'll be short on details because many of these tidbits I'll flesh out over the next few weeks into full fledge posts.

Just over a month ago, I moved apartments. I used to live in the neighborhood of Dokki on the west bank of the Nile but found out that my apartment, while dirt-cheap by U.S. standards, was actually costing me far more than an apartment should. My friend Moustafa helped me look for a new place and I lucked out in renting an apartment in the neighborhood of Zamalek. Ironically, Zamalek, an island in the middle of the Nile, is one of the swankiest and richest neighborhoods in Cairo, but my apartment here is costing me an arm and a leg less than my old one in Dokki.

I'm in my fourth one-month long semester at Kalimat. As ever, I'm taking a traditional Arabic class in the morning and a colloquial class in the afternoon. The traditional classes go up by half-levels, so I'm currently in 4.5, in which we read lots of newspaper articles and the most basic of Naguib Mahfouz stories. Colloquial classes go up by whole levels, and I had to skip the fourth level because I was the only one to sign up for it, so now I'm in the fifth level which mainly consists of advanced grammatical topics and strangely basic odds-and-ends vocabulary, the type that never found a place in the lower levels like animals and body-parts.

It's Ramadan here now; we're two weeks into it and have about two weeks to go. I have a long post on this forthcoming, but I'll tell you now that it's been a fascinating time that, while tedious, has been an incredible insight into many aspects of the Egyptian persona and the Islamic culture.

Finally, I've managed to add one more Egyptian trip to my name since I last posted. A couple of weeks ago, a few friends of mine and I ventured to the Sinai peninsula for a beach weekend. Needless to say, the adventure of the whole thing deserves a whole post, one I hope to get up by next week. More on travel…. The parents are on their way to Cairo in fewer than two weeks and Sharm al-Sheik, Aswan, and Luxor are on the travel list. More on that when it happens.

So that's all for now. Please check back soon!

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