a lazy saturday in muquttum and an adventure cooking dinner in our flat

Saturday, July 21:   This morning I wake up early in our Muquttum flat.  I am still feeling angry and upset about last night’s argument with R, and I write him this email.

r,  Of course I hung up when the “female” answered.  What else would I do?  I can’t ask for you, obviously.  Therein is the story of our lives.

I am surprised when you say it was you that answered.  I know your voice and it certainly didn’t sound like you.  All I heard was female and immediately thought: L, or some other woman.

And I didn’t know why you might feel it necessary to lie, especially if you were simply at home.  It just seemed like a totally unnecessary lie, but a lie nonetheless.  And of course there was the thought that if it was a lie, it was likely told to hide something else, such as another woman.  I can certainly understand another woman, seeing as how  you are so “out there,” and so funny, smart, sexy and attractive, but I just think I have the right to know as I have told you everything in that regard on my end.

So, your apologies accepted, although in the end, none are necessary.  Nothing was your fault, just  a mis-hearing, or misunderstanding, on my part.  So, I’m the one who is sorry.  I hope you will forgive me.  Now that you mention it, you have told me before that callers sometimes mistake you for a woman.  I have never heard this before when talking to you, so I am utterly bewildered by how “female” you sounded.  Wow.

I hope you’ll forgive me.  I am terribly sorry. And I will look forward to hearing about your private place.  That is, if you still want to see me when I return.

You didn’t mention at all the thing about Basim, so I have no idea how you feel.  Maybe it doesn’t bother you, maybe it does.  I’m not even sure how I feel about the whole thing.  Monday is a national holiday here, and therefore he asked me to go along.  In Egypt, Egyptians cannot share a room with a person of the opposite sex unless they show marriage papers.  So, I don’t believe you’ll have cause to worry.

My life is in such upheaval right now, I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.  Yesterday at the hash, walking through the desert and chatting with a British man I had just met, I started feeling melancholy about my decisions.  I thought to myself, what on earth am I doing?  I have loved my time in Egypt, have loved the sense of freedom and adventure, and have hardly given my old life a thought.  I’ve thought of you and all my adventures here, and that’s about it.  (And Arabic of course).  Maybe it was just strong guilt pangs, who knows.  I didn’t think of turning back, but I just wondered if I am doing the right thing.

Anyway, I hope you have a great weekend.  I’m sorry for the misunderstanding.  And I’m sorry if I am causing you any pain.  I don’t want to do that.  You should know I’m in pain myself right now, and feeling more than a little lost and confused.

I hold you close in my heart and wish your complete and utter happiness.

Love,  C

I go back to sleep in our flat for a couple of hours.  I guess I need the sleep, because I’ve been going nonstop the whole time I’ve been in Cairo.  When I wake up, I find two short messages from R, and then I respond.

C,  A quick reply.  More later.  I’ve decided to try to always answer the phone with my name.  the female thing happens way too often (about 40% of the time actually).  As for Basim, I’m mixed as I’ve explained before.  I have a hard time when imagining (and trying not to imagine) you with another man.  And yet I want you and expect you to live life to the fullest.  I built that into my expectations as you walked into the airport terminal and have kept them in my mind since.  As for needing two hotel rooms, I’m old but I think I could come up with some creative ways to overcome that.

You can share what you like and keep private what you like; I’ll never ask and I’ll never refuse to listen; and I like to think my feelings for you will not be fundamentally altered by it.  All I ask is that you bring nothing home to share.

More later, I’m on a terrible time crunch now and so can’t write all I’d like to.  Stay well

Then another message:

Btw, don’t ever let us miss an opportunity to talk just cuz I’m doing my female impersonation, or even if a real female answers.  I get lots of calls from lots of people.  If you just ask for Professor R, or Mr. R, or that damn deadbeat, no one will think a second thought about it.  Happens all the time.  But I’ll try to remember to answer the phone by name.

There.  Another completely inane email just for the sake of typing and watching words appear for no reason other than that they go to you. In Cairo.  Or wherever your hanging out.



After reading both of R’s emails, I write him back:

Hello,  I’ve been sleeping away my entire Saturday.  I wrote the earlier e-mail to you hours ago, then I slept for another couple of hours.  I came down to see if you had written me back, then I re-read all your latest e-mails.  There’s a warm breeze flowing through this room and I feel mellow and warm toward you and your words.  I feel so bad for being so angry at you last night, especially since you didn’t do anything wrong.  And here I have been subjecting you to details of my life here that certainly must be hurtful.  My dearest R, I hope you will forgive me.

I am so afraid you will be gone from me upon my return.  I wonder if I haven’t been pushing you away in preparation for that certain event.  Here again, my lack of self-confidence is rearing its ugly head.  I don’t believe that anyone could really care for me and in addition wait an entire month for me.  A month can sometimes be an eternity.

I am sad and miss you so much.  I adore being in your company, with no shortage of things to talk about.  I wish I could sit across from you and hold your hand and lean across the table to kiss you.  I want you so desperately.  This is true, truer than you can ever know.  I wish for you to be happy, even if it means you leave me.  And I can certainly understand if you do.

Take care and have a nice weekend.  Today is officially the last day of our weekend.  We have class Sunday and the holiday Monday.  If I go with Basim tomorrow I’ll miss class and be on Dr. Jones’s shit list.  The other 3 non-Muslims and Tarik went for a self-created 4-day weekend to Mt. Sinai to ride camels with the Bedouins up the mountain, camp out overnight and then return.  They may also go to Sharm el Sheik.  Dr. Jones was furious that they decided to miss Sunday.  If I miss it, I’ll be joining the ranks of the troublemakers.

I feel nothing but warm tender feelings for you.  Is it love?  I don’t know, but it seems likely.  Extremely likely.  I miss you so much and wish you were here to take a nap with me.  And everything else I can think of.

Love,  C

I get one more message from R in the evening,


This is likely the last message until you get back.  Nothing to say really, nothing special going on, but wanted to share even that with you.  Months are long, until they’re over.  Then they seem short.  I have so much nothing to talk to you about and I can’t wait.  Stay safe and well.  And, Carpe Diem.


In the afternoon and evening, I study Arabic, relax and try to cook some dinner in our horrible kitchen.  I don’t cook much in this flat.  You can see why by looking at the picture.

me cooking in our horrible Muquttum kitchen in a frying pan with a broken handle ~ priceless :-)

me cooking in our horrible Muquttum kitchen in a frying pan with a broken handle ~ priceless 🙂

As Basim has invited me to accompany him to Alexandria on Sunday and Monday, I pack tonight and prepare to play hooky tomorrow.  Monday, July 23 is Revolution Day and a public holiday; it is the anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution of  1952.  It is the biggest secular public holiday in Egypt.

We have Monday off for the holiday, but not Sunday, which means I only have to make excuses for one day.  I’m sure Dr. Jones will not be pleased.  Oh well. 🙂

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Filed under Cairo, Egypt, Middle East, Muquttum

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