Category Archives: Cairo Hash House Harriers

cairo in black & white: a return to coptic cairo & another cairo hash

Friday, July 27:  Today I return to Coptic Cairo to buy some black and white photos I saw in a shop the last time I was here.  I love how the photographs capture an old romantic version of Cairo.  I end up buying three of them.

Egyptian black & white photos and the fresh shopkeeper

Egyptian black & white photos and the fresh shopkeeper

While I’m in the shop, I ask someone in the shop if they will take a photo of me with the shopkeeper.  Right after the photo is snapped, I am shocked to feel the shopkeeper’s hand grab my butt.  I say, “What are you doing???” and promptly move away.  He says, “Please can I have your number?”  I say no!  What presumption!!  This kind of thing happens too often in Cairo.

the Egyptian shopkeeper and me

the Egyptian shopkeeper and me

When I return from Coptic Cairo with my amazing black and white photographs, I put them away and check my emails.  I find the following from R:

C,

I’m gonna go back to my old style of writing. Hope you don’t mind.  I’m just too tired and frustrated to be efficient.  And so all the nothing will come out in full form, or something like it.

I am in such a funk.  Since hitting the office I feel like I’ve been in a particularly creative episode of the show “Office.”  OMFG!!!  What is this place?  It’s a steady flow, intrusions really,  of people– and always not men, btw– with long discussions of issues, matters, problems, complaints that I just don’t care about.  I can’t bring myself to care about them. I can’t even pretend to care about them.  And, I can’t even order them to leave cuz that is so not PC.

I’ve resorted alot to wandering off to NY while they regale me with their drivel.   I have even resorted to excusing myself from my own damn office and just leave. HS, what is this?  After particularly bad episode that just ended (intruding grievously on my lunch), I locked my door, turned off the lights and put on Gloria Esteban, just to decompress.  So my secretary and assistant (also not a guy) had to come in to see if I’m all right and hung around wanting to help and get me stuff and offer suggestions and get me to talk it out with them.  OMFG!!  What did I do to deserve all this.  I’m just sure I was an evil overseer of a harem in an earlier life.  And not one drop of Scotch in my whole office.

So I write to you, letting my fingers follow my mind, following my heart, to Cairo.  And, truth be told, I feel better.  Thx.  But a Scotch would still help. A hug would help ever so much more.  I can’t remember being so in need of a hug.  Hugs and scotches, in NY.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

And yet, here I am.

I’m off tonight to meet with some friends– one of whom is going pay big time for getting me to buy that dumb-ass book about millionaires. I’m in just the right mood to meet with that bozo. (As you’ve no doubt
noticed, I’m transferring my stupidity to his cupidity.  I’m into cognitive dissonance and blame transference.)

Stay well, stay safe, and try not to get over me just yet.

Love,
r

In the afternoon, I invite Shannon, Clint, and Kevin to accompany me to our last Cairo Hash.  We start in an Egyptian neighborhood at a big unfinished villa.  The pool is finished, and it’s quite lovely, but the house is just a shell, like many houses throughout Cairo.  This time we hike out in the relentless heat of the desert; we’re all in complete misery.

Wesley the hash leader in the middle

Wesley the hash leader in the middle

Clint in the center

Clint in the center

Wesley's girlfriend in the center

Wesley’s girlfriend in the center

random hashers

random hashers

me

me

Kevin, Clint and Shannon on their first Cairo Hash

Kevin, Clint and Shannon on their first Cairo Hash

the unfinished house with the beautiful pool

the unfinished house with the beautiful pool

the pool at the house

the pool at the house

Shannon and Kevin

Shannon and Kevin

Kevin and Shannon

Kevin and Shannon

Kevin and Clint

Kevin and Clint

Crazy hashers

Crazy hashers

me drinking up with the others

me drinking up with the others

someone getting beer poured on them

someone getting beer poured on them

Clint and Kevin on the right

Clint and Kevin on the right

down down down!

down down down!

the beautiful pool at sunset

the beautiful pool at sunset

poolside

poolside

me with two Egyptian women

me with two Egyptian women

At the end of the evening, as we are leaving, Wesley, the head hasher extraordinaire, grabs me as I’m leaving and kisses me.  I am baffled.  I look at him, bewildered.  He says, “I just wanted to see what it was like.”

As far as what it’s like, maybe it’s no good.  Because I never hear from him again. 🙂

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Filed under Cairo, Cairo Hash House Harriers, Coptic Cairo, Egypt, Middle East, Old Cairo

another friday with the cairo hash house harriers in a desolate location

Friday, July 20:   Today is the first day of our weekend and this morning, I just relax and sort through emails.  I find this one from R.   Yesterday, he told me that today he would be at a “remote and secluded location,” unconnected by internet.   For some reason, I find this a little disconcerting.  Something about it doesn’t ring true.  His response tells me that he couldn’t stand being disconnected for so long and he had to go into campus so that he could write to me.

C,  Thanks so much for sharing.  I’m away from the office and couldn’t get my laptop to connect wirelessly.  I got so frustrated not being able to check gmail 9 times in the 3 hours I sat there that I had to hike to campus to get on-line.  So, here I am.  I fear that if I didn’t get this fix I would be totally unproductive for the rest of the day.

And the silliest thing is that I really have nothing to say.  Nothing new is happening that either I haven’t told you already or that wouldn’t bore you into falling asleep right on the keyboard.  But I’ve never let having nothing to say stop me.  It just feels good typing, and thinking about you reading it.  (Over there!?!?)

Oh well.

Do you realize that this is the 8 week anniversary of when we met? I’m not counting the first lecture when I first was attracted to you.  I mean actually meeting on the trip.  Happy Anniversary!

Do you realize that of that 8 weeks, you’ve been in Cairo nearly 4.  And here we are.  Was it the water? Is there something in the air?  Are we 16? OMG!

Having dinner with an old friend/colleague from ITC tonight.  One of the smartest guys I know and he owes me a dinner.  I’m hoping to pick his brain for ideas for the productivity consulting ‘thing’ I’m trying to develop.  Most days at work motivate me to work harder on this. I’m hoping to have a marketable produce within a year.  We’ll see.

Typing away, minding my own business I almost hurt my neck because someone walked by with your hairdo.  I instinctively over-reacted.  It’s funny; as I walk along and see your hairdo– always, sadly, on someone else– I flutter.  Within a half second I consciously remember that it cannot be you.  But that first half second seems long.  Long enough for a tingle to surge through most of my body, like a tiny…well, whatever.

Whew, it got hot in here all of a sudden. I think I better go take another shower.

Thanks again for sharing.  Give my best to Mahmoud’s wife.  Give her Michelle’s phone number.

Stay safe please,
Love,
r

Some of our emails are missing here, but something didn’t sound right to me about R’s “remote and secluded location.”  Knowing R, I wouldn’t put it past him to spend the day with another woman, being “incommunicado.”   At one point during his “secluded” day, I call him to say hello and a woman answers.  I hang up the phone.  I am shaken.  So my suspicions seem confirmed that he is spending the day with another woman.  I’m angry because I have been very open with him about my experiences in Egypt, and I expect the same in return.  I think I write him a short email, now lost, telling him that I phoned and a woman answered and I’m quite upset.   The woman answering, combined with the “secluded location,” makes me feel he’s being dishonest.  I send the email.  Then I get off the computer and don’t get back on until late this evening.

In the afternoon, Basim picks me up and we go to a remote and desolate location for the Cairo Hash House Harriers run/walk.  It is a small group that meets today.  Basim seems standoffish the whole day.   I end up walking with my friend Ahmed the Egyptologist and some other Egyptians and expats.  The whole time, Basim is engaged chatting with a young beautiful woman.   This is my least favorite of all the hashes I go to in Egypt because it’s such a hot and harsh environment, the group is not as lively or friendly as at the other gatherings I’ve been to, and Basim is acting socially awkward and remote.

Hashers in a desolate location ~ Wesley on the far right

Hashers in a desolate location ~ Wesley on the far right

more hashers ~ Basim on the far left

more hashers ~ Basim on the far left

Hashers

Hashers

more hashers ~ Ahmed in the middle

more hashers ~ Ahmed in the middle

our desolate location

our desolate location

nothing but sand and rocks for miles in every direction

nothing but sand and rocks for miles in every direction

another hasher

another hasher

As Basim is driving me back home from the Hash, he tells me he must go to Alexandria for some business on Sunday and Monday.  He invites me to come along.  I say it will take some doing, because Dr. Jones gets angry at students who miss Arabic classes for any reason.  But I agree to come along with him.  After all, how can I miss out on another adventure?

After I return from the hash, I get an email from R explaining that the “woman” who answered the phone was him.  He says that often when he answers the phone, he gets mistaken for a woman.  I have a hard time believing this.  I write him that I think he has spent his “secluded” day with another woman.

R,
…so obtuse, or so not forthright?  I don’t get it.  Why would you feel that you have to hide something from me, especially considering how open I have been with you?

So, that’s all I want to say about it.  I’m just disappointed.  I thought we had agreed to be honest.  And I’ve tried to do that this entire trip, as well as during our entire 8 week relationship.

I didn’t have to tell you anything about Mohsen, or Basim, or anyone.  I didn’t have to tell you anything personal going on with me at all.  But I did.   Knowing full well that you could easily push me away, or remove yourself from continuing with me.  That’s the thing about honesty; sometimes it means that someone could not like what you say and could push you out of his life.

Today Basim asked me to go to Alexandria with him on Sunday and Monday.  I wonder if I should tell you what I decided.  Or maybe I should just say that on Sunday and Monday I’ll be away from the office trying hard to get something productive done away from any distractions.  Yes, that might work.  It just might.  If I tell you that, you’ll never know about the possibility of me going away with him and possibly sleeping with him.  That will save you a lot of heartache, won’t it? And it’ll keep you trusting me, as well.  I want that.  Because if you trust me, I can get away with anything.  I can let you know everything on a need-to-know basis.  The world will be my oyster.

I’m sorry if I sound upset.  I am.  Because I thought I would surprise you at your “private” location and have a nice chat with you before your “out of touch” weekend.  I am feeling a little sorry I did.

Take care and I hope we can chat about this soon.  I care so much for you and this is why I feel hurt.
C

R writes back to me:

C,

I answered the phone.  I’m not sure what happened, but the call ended, I believe on your end, while I was saying hello.  I can assure you it was me.  I often get called ‘Ma’am’ or Ms. R on the phone. I’ve quite a complex about it actually.  I tried to call back but the international call didn’t go through.  And I thought you’d call back.  You can take to the bank that I was in a private place, which I am looking forward to showing you, and was being very productive. Alone, offline, lonely, a bit frustrated, but very productive.  Since I’m going to be home all weekend, what possible reason could I have to
mislead about being home on Friday as well. And what possible reason would I have to mislead about being with L, since I’m with her virtually every day, at least for a couple of hours with the other 7 people living at my house.  And no, I don’t have anyone else. The only person I misled is L, who thinks I was at GMU all day.

I apologize for the confusion.  But believe me, the only females who would answer my phone are L, or any of my 5 daughters or possibly their friends, or anyone else who might be near a ringing phone.  But today, it was only me.  I work at sounding deeper when I remember, but when I saw the long number, I just forgot.

I really am very sorry because it would have been so wonderful to talk to you.  Not that I didn’t most of the day.  It just would have been great to have you actually answer.

With apologies,
r

I really don’t know what to make of this as R is a very charming man and I know his history.  I’m not sure if I believe him or not.  Either way, I determine that I will go with Basim to Alexandria and I will most certainly have a good time. 🙂

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an evening with the cairo hash house harriers at the sakkara country club

Friday, July 13: This afternoon, I head to the Ace Club in Ma’adi to meet up with the Cairo Hash House Harriers (Cairo Hash House Harriers) for my second Friday walk with them during my stay in Egypt.

This time, we go to the Sakkara Country Club.   Some of us start out by taking a dip in the pool.

The Sakkara Country Club is located in the lush green of the Nile Delta with access to the open desert.  Its location, on the site of Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt, is close enough to Cairo to provide easy access, but it’s still removed from pollution and chaotic traffic.

Newly refurbished and extensively renovated, the Club is set in lush landscaping which has matured over the last thirty years and with hundreds of palm trees is a verdant green contrast to the backdrop of sand dunes.

Poolside at the Sakkara Country Club

Poolside at the Sakkara Country Club

Hash House Harriers at the pool at Sakkara

Hash House Harriers at the pool at Sakkara

Once everyone arrives, we head out for a run/walk in the desert.  It’s sweltering hot on the sand, with not a bit of shade in sight.

the desert next to the Sakkara Country Club

the desert next to the Sakkara Country Club

me walking in the desert

me walking in the desert

the group walks through the hot desert

the group walks through the hot desert

desert and mini-pyramids

desert and mini-pyramids

the desert with Cairo beyond

the desert with Cairo beyond

We find one tree at the edge of the desert and we huddle under it for its scant shade

We find one tree at the edge of the desert and we huddle under it for its scant shade

After our walk, we head back to the green grass on the edge of the desert to do the Hash circle, drink some beer, sing some crazy songs, and enjoy the camels walking along the edge of the desert.  A cool breeze dances through our little party, quite a pleasant surprise after our sweltering walk earlier.

Hashers at the Hash

Hashers at the Hash

Camels walk along the edge of the desert

Camels walk along the edge of the desert

Wesley, the head hasher, and two other hashers

Wesley, the head hasher, and two other hashers

Ahmed on the right

Ahmed on the right

the group relaxes as the sun goes down

the group relaxes as the sun goes down

Wesley with a camel behind him

Wesley with a camel behind him

Down, down, down.  Ahmed and I have to guzzle our beer.

Down, down, down. Ahmed and I have to guzzle our beer.

Down, down, down.

Down, down, down.

148

nice little pooches

nice little pooches

one of the Hashers gets a punishment for some shenanigans

one of the Hashers gets a punishment for some shenanigans

she gets beer poured over her head

she gets beer poured over her head

Wesley and Ahmed

Wesley and Ahmed

Wesley and me, making a goofy face

Wesley and me, making a goofy face

Wesley

Wesley

the sun slips down behind the dunes

the sun slips down behind the dunes

While I’m at the Hash, R calls me and I’m able to chat with him briefly before we lose our connection. I call him back and talk a little bit longer until we lose our connection again.  Ah, Egypt.

After my evening out with the Hashers, I write R another email.  It is a long and detailed email, but I lose it before I can send it.  Here’s what I end up writing:

OMG, technology is failing me miserably.  I just spent a half hour writing you the most heartfelt email, and then my web session “expired” and the message was gone, just like that!   Then I just got a phone call from someone, and now my minutes have expired b/c of the call I made to you from the desert-side.  So I guess I’m incommunicado.

I wrote so many wonderful things, and I was so happy with what I was writing, I know I can’t replicate it.  But I’ll try as best I can.  I will send the email periodically, so you may get several, to make sure I don’t lose the whole thing again!

I was so happy to get your email tonight upon my return, as well as your voice mail after the difficult hike through the desert.  It made my night! (continued…)

I somehow lost the rest of what I wrote to him.

R writes back:

Thank you.  The original must have been amazing, cuz the follow-up was
wonderful.  We have much to talk about.  But thank you for touching
base on your return.  I’m sorry I missed the cab ride.  I’ll try
harder.

Love,
R

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first walk with the cairo hash house harriers

Friday, July 6:  In the late afternoon, I take my second taxi of the day from Muquttum to Ma’adi.   I’m going for the first time on a walk through the desert with the Cairo Hash House Harriers.  When I arrive, Mohsen takes me to the market where we buy some lamb and some other goodies for the picnic that will follow the walk/run.

The Cairo Hash House Harriers (CH3) (Cairo Hash House Harriers) was founded in 1980 and meets every  Friday afternoon at the Ace Club in Ma’adi, Cairo.  Today, after meeting at the club, we go for our walk in the Wadi Degla Desert Protectorate, which is located right on the edge of the Cairo suburb of Ma’adi.  According to Nile Guide,  it extends 20-30 km from east to west through the desert and ends at Ma’adi district south of Cairo governorate. The total area of the reserve is about 60 sq. km. This beautiful quiet canyon is noted for its limestone and mud formations which are rich in aquatic fossils.

With over 1,700 groups worldwide, the HASH is an “international dis-organization of people who enjoy having fun and some exercise.” (Facebook: Cairo Hash House Harriers)

me beginning the walk with the Cairo Hash House Harriers

me beginning the walk with the Cairo Hash House Harriers

According to Wikipedia: Hash House Harriers:  at a hash, one or more members (“hares”) lay a trail, which is then followed by the remainder of the group (the “pack” or “hounds”). The trail periodically ends at a “check” and the pack must find where it begins again; often the trail includes false trails, short cuts, dead ends, back checks and splits. These features are designed to keep the pack together despite differences in fitness level or running speed, as front-runners are forced to slow down to find the “true” trail, allowing stragglers to catch up.

Wadi Degla Desert Protectorate

Wadi Degla Desert Protectorate

Members often describe their group as “a drinking club with a running problem,” indicating that the social element of an event is as important, if not more so, than any athleticism involved. Beer remains an integral part of a hash, though the balance between running and drinking differs between chapters, with some groups placing more focus on socializing and others on running.

The end of a trail is an opportunity to socialize, have a drink and observe any traditions of the individual chapter (see Traditions). When the hash officially ends, many members may continue socializing at an “on-after”, “on-down”, “on-on-on”, “apres”, or “hash bash”, an event held at a nearby house, pub, or restaurant.

Wadi Degla

Wadi Degla

When we first meet with the lively group, some of the group takes off for a 3 mile run.  Others of us take off for a walk up the side of the wadi for about an hour in the hot sun. After we return from our walk, ice-cold beer is waiting for us at the bottom.  Here the socializing begins.  I see Ahmed, the Egyptologist from the American University of Cairo who I met this morning at the Ma’adi Runners, and Marcel, the French guy who I also met this morning.  During the walk I also meet Basim, a 35-year-old Egyptian neurosurgeon.

Ahmed and Marcel

Ahmed and Marcel

After having a few beers, the group forms a circle and the “down-down” begins.  Here, people are called into the circle for recognition, or harassment, depending on what the person did to deserve being singled out.  Again, according to Wikipedia, generally, the individual in question is asked to consume without pause the contents of his or her drinking vessel or risk pouring the remaining contents on his or her head. Individuals may be recognized for outstanding service, or for their status as a visitor or newcomer. Down-downs also serve as punishment for misdemeanors real, imagined, or blatantly made up. Such transgressions may include: failing to stop at the beer check, pointing with a finger, or the use of real names. Commonly, hashers who wear new shoes to an event can be required to drink from that shoe.

Mohsen and other hashers

Mohsen and other hashers

All of the above goes on at this hash, and of course since I’m a newcomer, I’m called into the center of the circle to be introduced.  I have to down my beer as the members around the perimeter do a countdown, and whatever amount I don’t consume, I must pour over my head.  Luckily, I don’t have much in my cup to warrant a drenched head.

me with Ahmed the Egyptologist

me with Ahmed the Egyptologist

After the circle, we have a lovely cookout under the stars. I keep saying to people: “Dusharufna,” which I learned in my Arabic classes means “pleased to meet you.”  The Egyptians in the group get a hoot out of this because they tell me it is a very formal way of speaking, as if in English I was saying “I’m so honored to make thou acquaintance.”

the Hash circle

the Hash circle

During the HASH, I make plans with Ahmed the Egyptologist tomorrow to go on a tour with him to Giza to see the pyramids.  Mohsen offers to drive me back to Muquttum, quite a distance away for him.  As we head to the car, Basim the brain surgeon runs up and hands me his card.

I have such a fun time at this event that I determine to return every Friday night!

the "down-down"

the “down-down”

When I return back to our flat in Muquttum, Lisa tells me a hilarious story about how she and Mahmud went for a walk along the Nile and found one of the Presidential Cruise ships docked and empty.  They went to sit at the top of the boat to talk, and the next thing they knew, they were cruising down the Nile.  They ran to the operators to tell them they wanted to get off the boat, but they wouldn’t turn back because the cruise was in progress.  So they got to do the cruise for free, with dinner included!   Lisa is hilarious!

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Filed under Cairo, Cairo Hash House Harriers, Egypt, Middle East, Wadi Degla Desert Protectorate