Sunday, July 8: The facilities at Al Azhar University are horrible. The classroom has an air conditioner, but it barely works. The teacher uses an upturned table as a chalkboard. The entire room, including our tables and chairs, is decrepit and dirty. On top of that, all women are required to wear the hijab while at the university, which makes the heat doubly uncomfortable. I just count the seconds to get through the day. I am learning some Arabic, but the teacher speaks English so it is not a full immersion, which is what I expected it would be.
Lisa plays “sick” today because she needs to go to the American Embassy for some kind of documentation over a claim she is making against an Egyptian with whom she was involved in the past. So, I am stuck in Tajweed today alone with Mona. It’s horrible without Lisa there. 😦
Once I get out of class, I take a taxi immediately to City Stars Mall, where I bought my phone yesterday. I can’t make calls on the phone, so I want to get them to help me with it. They do, and when I finish I take a taxi back to Muquttum.
I am finally able to text Mohsen my number, after which I do some laundry and eat a dinner I prepare on our disgusting stove.
Basim, the brain surgeon, calls and we go to the Muquttum Corniche, which are really cliffs looking out over Cairo. There is quite a lively commotion in the narrow parking area with a jumble of cars honking, a gang of motorcycles revving engines, and battles over limited parking. Basim finally parks his old Mercedes and we sit at a plastic table and drink banana juice and cardamom tea. When I realize there is no place to put my tea bag, I say, “In America, we have plates to put our tea bags.” He says, “Yes, but we’re in Egypt, so we put them here on the table.”
I say, “I’m older than you, you know.” He says, “I know you’re older. I figure you’re about 40.” I don’t say a word to refute that, even though I’m actually 51. I ask him his age and he tells me he’s 34. Hmm.
I tell him about my marriage and my children and our separation and I don’t know what he thinks about that as he’s a conservative Muslim and doesn’t drink or do anything improper.
We have a lot of laughs as he tells me a hilarious story of taking a bus in Houston (which now I sadly don’t remember) and I tell him the story of Lisa and Mahmoud and their free Presidential Cruise on the Nile.
When we leave the Corniche, we have to fight to untangle ourselves from the knot of honking cars in the parking area. He yells at the other drivers and the other drivers yell at him. What a noisy ending to a lovely night. 🙂