Tag Archives: Muquttum

last day in cairo: exploring small art museums, mosques and a modern shopping center

Monday, February 15:  Today, once again Ahmed has to go to work, so I have him drop me off in town so I can explore various places.

Someone has told me about a small art museum, so I go there.  It’s a small and quiet place, a kind of oasis in the middle of Cairo’s maelstrom.  I wish I could remember the name of it.  In one room, a beautiful film shows continuously; here is a pretty pathetic shot of it that sadly conveys neither its beauty or its emotional impact.  Maybe because I am quite smitten with Ahmed, this place seems to echo the state of my heart.

a beautiful film in a Cairo art museum

a beautiful film in a Cairo art museum

Later I head to a big mosque where I am to wait for Ahmed to pick me up after his day at work.  Hordes of Egyptian children surround me and happily pose for a picture.

children near the mosque

children near the mosque

Then they agree to pose with me for the picture as well.  I feel so happy today, yet I’m also sad that I have to take off for Korea tomorrow morning.

surrounded by Egyptian children

surrounded by Egyptian children

Ahmed comes to pick me up after work, but only after a huge hassle with my phone.  When I try to call him, I find that my phone has no more minutes on it.  This has me worried because if I can’t contact Ahmed, we can’t find each other.  I run around frantically trying to find a place that will sell minutes to add to my phone.  Finally, I find a taxi driver who lets me use his phone to call Ahmed.  It takes a while for us to find each other, but we finally do.

Ahmed drives me up to Muquttum, where I show him the flat where I stayed in 2007.   While on Road 9, he stops to buy a bunch of oranges.  That’s good because I don’t want a repeat of Saturday night’s diabetic attack.

Ahmed loves his oranges

Ahmed loves his oranges

Ahmed buys some oranges

Ahmed buys some oranges

Later we head to a modern outdoor shopping mall, where we have a lovely dinner at a restaurant there.  It’s quite nice, especially by Cairo standards.  It’s such a lovely evening, and I feel happier than I’ve felt in a long time.

Ahmed Salem

Ahmed Salem

Ahmed Salem

Ahmed Salem

me

me

Ahmed and I having dinner our last night together

Ahmed and I having dinner our last night together

 

This is our last night together and I have a wonderful time.  Ahmed seems to be happy too.  We enjoy each other’s company on our last night together.  Early in the morning I take off for Korea.

If you’d like to follow my adventures in Korea, you can check out catbird in korea.

It’s too bad that everything falls apart with Ahmed after I leave Egypt. 😦

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final saturday in cairo: a shopping spree at the far end of road 9

Saturday, July 28: I am almost to the end of my month in Egypt and this is our last weekend day here.  Lisa and I plan to do some shopping later this afternoon.  We also need to study, as our final exams and graduation are tomorrow.

This morning, I send an email to R:

Have you fallen off the face of the earth???  I haven’t heard much from you.  Have you decided to join the “Hate Cathy Club”?  Or are you simply incredibly busy?  Or maybe you are tired of me cluttering your life.

Anyway, I hope all is well with you.  It is so freaking hot here.  All I feel like doing is staying in my apartment with the A/C going full blast.  There is no relief from the heat when you go out.  Taxis, cafes, shops: none of them have air conditioning.  I want to shop more at Khan el Khalili, but don’t know if I can brave the heat.

Study today, maybe shop, who knows what else.  My 3 infidel friends enjoyed the hash last night.  We had a lovely spot with a pool for BBQ and cold beers afterwards.  None of my Egyptian friends were there.  It was fun, nonetheless.

Take care kind sir,
let me know if you have abandoned me…
C

I hear back from him after a couple of hours:

Not off the face of earth, yet, but flitting around the edges lately and have had a bit of a problem getting to and staying near a computer.  Not in the club.  Can’t even imagine the club.  Quite the contrary.  But, have to dash again. I’ll try to be more complete about my flittings later– they mostly have to do with a flood of papers from two courses and performance evaluations for all the people who work for me, due Tuesday.  I’m just a grading fool.  And no time to be human or to slow down.  Will chat more when I can.

As for my ‘millionnaire’ just as I was going to lay into him, his wife asked me under her breath not to burst his bubble.  Damn.

See you soon!!!

Lisa and I go on a shopping spree at some shops at the far end of Road 9 in Muquttum.  She does more damage than I, but both of us buy a lot of stuff we don’t need.  After we shop, we have a lunch of cucherie and Coca-Cola in a steamy hole-in-the-wall.

me having cucherie and Coca-Cola in Muquttum

me having cucherie and Coca-Cola in Muquttum

Lisa in Muquttum

Lisa in Muquttum

Lisa and me in the tuk-tuk

Lisa and me in the tuk-tuk

Lisa and me after our shopping spree

Lisa and me after our shopping spree

Lisa, me and our spoils

Lisa, me and our spoils

Later, I write back to R:

I know you are swamped and I’m just happy to hear you haven’t joined the club.  I hope you haven’t surreptitiously added your name to the wait list.  Anyway, we will talk more upon my return to the USA after Tuesday.  I am so looking forward to seeing you.  The boys called today and Adam goes to lax camp through Wednesday, so I’m sure I will need to spend some time with him when he returns.  He sounded sad and like he misses me.  Alex seems to be doing fine.  Mike never speaks to me when the boys call.

I will leave you to your paper grading and your performance evaluations.  I have my big Arabic test tomorrow, but instead of studying today, Lisa and I went shopping at the other end of Muquttum.  We actually found it quite nice.  If only we’d discovered it earlier.  We were so dead set against the neighborhood from the start, that we never gave it a chance.  Oh well, that’s life.

So, hold on dear R, and I look forward to seeing you in just several more days.
Love,
C

He responds back:

Love it, loved it, loved it, loved it, loved it.

r

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Filed under Cairo, Egypt, Middle East, Muquttum

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
r

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.

MU.

Love,
r.

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,

C,

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.

r

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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our muquttum neighborhood & our horrible flat

Thursday, July 19:  Today is class as usual at Al Azhar.  After class, I take some pictures of some activity going on at the house across the street.  The man of the house is cutting his son’s hair at a kind of outdoor room overgrown with vines.

I apologize that all my photos have a pink tinge to them.  I don’t know the explanation for this.  As all my Egypt photos seem to have a pink glow, I can only guess that I’m seeing Cairo through rose-colored glasses.

an outdoor haircut in the house across from our flat

an outdoor haircut in the house across from our flat

Notice in the house across the “street” from our flat, the middle floor has glass panes and curtains in the windows.  The top floor does not.  This is the case all through Cairo.  I see buildings EVERYWHERE with one flat finished, and all the other flats in the building unfinished.  It’s very bizarre that only one family would live in a building with a bunch of empty shells for neighbors.

the house across the street

the house across the street

looking down the "street" to the left

looking down the “street” to the left

Here’s our lovely living room.  There’s not really much room for three roommates to sit comfortably.

our living room

our living room

Neither is the dining area very practical for three people.

our dining room

our dining room

I love how the refrigerator is stuck halfway between the dining room and living room.

the refrigerator in the living/dining room

the refrigerator in the living/dining room

And the kitchen is really something, isn’t it?  It’s really so disgusting that I never want to cook here.  I’ve taken to eating chick peas out of a can, with a little olive oil, salt and pepper tossed in.  Either that, or I go out to eat.

our lovely kitchen

our lovely kitchen

more of the kitchen

more of the kitchen

Here’s our roommate Souhaila’s room.  Rather a mess.  I’m usually a really tidy person, but what’s the point in this dive of a place?

Souhaila's bedroom

Souhaila’s bedroom

Today, Lisa plays hookey from school.  She needs to get some kind of business taken care of so I’m supposed to cover for her and tell Dr. Jones that she’s sick.

I call Robert today to warn him about an email I am sending him.  I no longer have the email I sent, but I imagine I tell him how much I care for him.  In addition, I probably discuss the hopelessness of our situation, as he is already entangled.  I think I tell him I don’t know what to do because I know there is no future for us and I’m afraid of the eventual consequence: a broken heart.

Cathy,

It was so special speaking to you.  And so very special of you to call just to warn me.  But by far the most special of all was to hear your laugh.  It was like suddenly hearing a very dear song from long ago; one that fills you with warm memories.  In the midst of an emotionally draining day, it was a like a kiss.  It made the dreariness fade away and sustained me on a private high for hours. Even yet, it rings in my ear and I feel so very, very lucky to have it.

I’m back in my office trying to catch up.  I have performances to evaluate, lack of performance (mine) to hide or explain away, papers to grade, more papers to grade, a desk piled high with paper to clean, papers to edit for publication, a book to write, and yet… and yet, all I can bring myself to do is write to you.

I tried not to get online.  But I just couldn’t help myself.  I do apologize.  I tried not to read your email.  But when I saw the first three words I was tugged so strongly that I could stop myself.  I apologize again.   I am so thrilled by what you say.  And I am so stricken by what you say.  I won’t even pretend to offer answers.  I can’t read the future.  I have enough trouble understanding the present. But, it is more painful each day to have a present that you are not in.  And it is more painful yet to contemplate a future that does not include you.  My future, ineluctably, has pain written all over it.  There is no getting around that, and the only person I can talk to about it is half-way around the world.

All in all, it’s been a long and draining day.  And I’ve only a few minutes of your laughter to make up for it.  It’s just not quite enough for a day like this.  I’m sorry to end on such a note, but, well, the day is ending and so is my energy.

Stay well.

Love always,
r

I write back to R:

BTW, if the computer dies on me, I will have to stop.  I have spent a good 45 minutes just opening your email and writing what I have written.  Not only will it shut down, but it is unbelievably slow.

So… I just have to tell you that your emails and calls mean more to me than I can possibly describe.  With each one, my heart grows fonder and fonder of you.  I am getting irretrievably attached.  I miss you so much.  I so wish you could be here with me for a long weekend to explore this wild insane place.

I am falling for you, so beware.  Careful…. fragile heart (as Jewel says).
Love,  C

Later I get this email from R:

C,  I’m pulling out early (of my office:) and will be telecommuting from a secluded and lonely place all day tomorrow to try actually to get some stuff done.  It’s possible I’ll not figure out email and so may be incommunicado all Friday.  Please read nothing into this but that I’m IT illiterate.

Hope you have another exhilarating day (while I slave away in my salt mine).  Can’t wait to see you.  Warmest to Basim.

your sm
r.

Siiggg!!!

Later in the evening, I get another email from R.

Cathy,

Just got back from dinner downtown with some professor buddies from out-of-town.  Super nice guys and we had a lovely time.  Walked around a bit pulling on cigars and solving the world’s trade problems. I occasionally found myself thinking what it would be like to walk around with no where special to go in Cairo, with you.  But then some pointed question would drag me back to DC.  Nothing exciting, no ‘rides of death,’ no one to haggle with, no one to tell about.  Just a bit of something different in my humdrum life.  And I thought I would share it, mostly because it makes me feel better, and closer, while I’m typing away.

Isn’t it odd how a block of words seem to take on a personality? I seem to anthropomorphize them into the person who wrote them or the person for whom they are written.  I re-read and re-read words that I know so well because it feels like I’m touching that person.  It’s not the information being relayed, the words themselves become like the being they portray.  And it is comforting to see them; like holding them. They feel warm and full of life, almost like their breathing.  It’s a substitute, but a comforting one and very special.  Maybe it’s just the next step in losing my mind. Maybe my mind is just trying to join my heart.

Sorry to meander.  Just wanted to say goodnight and wish you well.  MUSM.

Love,
r

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“why, why, why?” followed by a double-feature felucca ride & the grand cafe on the nile

Tuesday, July 17:  More Arabic studies today at Al Azhar University.  I am beginning to hate these classes because of the horrible conditions at the university in general and the classrooms in particular.  I sure liked studying Arabic a lot more from my Iraqi teacher in the USA in an air-conditioned room.

I am expecting a call from R today, but it turns out he can’t call.  I get this email from him:

C,  Was planning to call you but won’t be able.  Seems like the whole spider bite thing isn’t over and so I’m off to the Dr.  Not sure when I’ll be done, but I’ll try to call on Wednesday.

Was at the Liberty Tavern with a dozen students and a guest speaker last night.  Closed it down.  Great time, but I left feeling melancholy.  Damn, I MU.

Hope all is going well.
Love,
r

I write him back:

Hey R,
What happened with the spider bite now??  Are you sure it wasn’t a brown recluse?  It sounds awfully serious and long-lasting for a spider bite.  I hope you’re okay:)

It’s good you had a nice time last night.  I know you love to go out drinking with the students and guest speakers.  Did you spend the night at the office, or did you get a hotel with a student??  I wonder if you would be as honest as me!

I’m in an internet cafe now and the guy is blaring Arabic music and all I want to do is dance.  I’m having such a wild and crazy time here in Egypt, I can’t explain how happy I feel.  The guy’s going to burn a CD for me.

Last night was as insane as usual.  Between Mohsen and Basim and Lisa, I wonder how on earth I have drawn these people into my life.  I have so many stories to tell, but damn, they won’t be half as good in the telling as they are in being there.  I am so excited about how every day might unfold.  I told Mohsen I’m happy to take anyone willing along on my grand adventure, but since he doesn’t like even the basic things about me, then I’m leaving him by the wayside and continuing on.  You wouldn’t believe some of the things I said to him last night.  I made him drive me to a date with Basim and yelled at him the whole time because he was poking along.  I said, you need to step on it; you’re so pokey.  I said, honk your horn and pass that truck on the left like all the other crazy drivers around here. He said he likes to drive safely.  I said that is his problem; he’s too damn careful.

Anyway, this will all make sense when I tell you the whole story.  Take care and I’ll  talk to you when you have time.  DAMN, I MU 2!

~ Cathy

P.S. Take care of yourself, spider bites, cold showers, and all.

In the evening, Lisa and I get a taxi together to go into Cairo.  I am tired of wearing frumpy cotton pants so I decide I will wear jeans.  I think jeans are always the most flattering option for my body.  But.  Not in the Middle East and not in July.

Why, why, why did I wear jeans tonight?

Why, why, why did I wear jeans tonight?

We are sitting in the back of the ancient taxi, sans air conditioning (most taxis in Cairo have no A/C),  in the nightmare of Cairo traffic.  Stop.  Inch forward.  Stop.  Inch forward some more.  So frustrating and so freaking hot.  I say to Lisa, in a plaintive moan, “Why, why, why???  Why did I wear these jeans?”

Sweat is pouring off of me.  There is no relief.  “Why, why, why???” I whine again..  Lisa laughs her head off at my lamentations.  Later these words becomes a joke between us.  Every time we encounter any problem in Egypt, Lisa says, “Why, why, why???” We crack up laughing at our dramatic renderings of these words.

We finally arrive at our destination, some cafe somewhere in Cairo where we are to meet Lisa’s friend.  Sweet, sweet air-conditioning.  Why, why, why have I been so enamored of coming to work and live in the Middle East? I have never enjoyed heat, not for one day in my life.  Heat is part of the territory in Egypt.  What on earth have I been thinking?

Lisa and her friend

Lisa and her friend

Lisa's friend, Lisa and me

Lisa’s friend, Lisa and me

After having coffee with Lisa’s friend, Basim comes to pick me up at the cafe in his old Mercedes.  He has one ancient decrepit Mercedes and one much newer.  I never know which one he will be driving when he picks me up.

He drives me to Ma’adi and tells me he wants to take me on the felucca on the Nile.  I think he is hoping that he will have a chance to kiss me;  there is certainly no chance to do so anywhere else in Cairo.

Basim on the felucca

Basim on the felucca

me on the felucca

me on the felucca

Basim hires the felucca for one hour.  The felucca captain stares at us the whole time, makes small talk.  We enjoy the sunset, the slightly cool breezes from the venerable river.  But there is no chance for a kiss because the felucca captain is right there.  We are not alone; we are three and one of us is an intruder.

After an hour, Basim tells the captain we will hire the boat for another hour.  We head back into deeper channels.  Finally the captain stands up and his head is above the awning on the boat.  A moment of privacy.  Basim goes in for the kiss.  A miss, a clumsy miscalculation.  When we do connect, it’s awkward.  Our rhythms are different.  A big disappointment.  Oh dear.  After all that pent-up longing, this is what it comes to.

I think the perfect kiss is where both partners are flexible.  They meld into each other, they adjust their kiss to the other person’s style.  But when one person is hell-bent on doing it his way, it simply doesn’t work.

The felucca ride comes to an end.  We dock and walk next door to the Grand Cafe on the Nile.  We sip on fresh mango juice with little pink umbrellas in them.  I think we’re both relieved it’s over.

Basim and his fancy mango juice at the Grand Cafe on the Nile

Basim and his fancy mango juice at the Grand Cafe on the Nile

me at the Grand Cafe

me at the Grand Cafe

me with my fancy mango juice at the Grand Cafe

me with my fancy mango juice at the Grand Cafe

Basim can be very socially awkward.  I think he’s regretting his attempted kiss.  I’m feeling frustrated with his awkwardness and want it to be easy-going between us.  It isn’t.  It’s uncomfortable.  So much for romance in Cairo.

He drives me to Muquttum where I meet Lisa and Mahmoud at the beginning of Road 9.   Basim takes off for home.  When I get in their car, I tell them about the disastrous kiss.  I tell them I’m certain I’ll never see Basim again.

Lisa driving

Lisa driving

Lisa has been practicing driving Mahmoud’s car and she’s very proud of herself to be driving in the chaos of Cairo.  We stop in a little cafe for some coffee and tea.

Lisa and Mahmoud

Lisa and Mahmoud

Eventually Mahmoud drops us off at our flat in Muquttum.  We wonder Why, why, why does life have to be so complicated?

Despite the fact I am certain I will never hear from Basim again, he texts me late tonight: The floka was nice and the company was great.  Looking forward to the next one.

Surprise, surprise!

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Filed under Cairo, Egypt, Felucca, Grand Cafe, Ma'adi, Middle East

a tabletop chalkboard, back to city stars and an evening at muquttum corniche

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.

our teacher and her tabletop white board

our teacher and her tabletop white board

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. 🙂

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Filed under Al-Azhar University, Cairo, City Stars Mall, Egypt, Middle East, Muquttum, Muquttum Corniche