Monday, September 15, 2008

Cafés and Refugees

I'm taking a break from reading (more about the Maghreb) and waiting for my anise tea to steep. Today was markedly better than its predecessors. I woke up sometime after noon and got up and ready for the day. Just as I was going out to meet Natalie, the TA for my Intro to FMRS class at a nearby café, an Egyptian man showed up at my door motioning to his cell phone. Neither of us speaking Arabic, he called my landlord who explained to me he was there to address the problem of our inadequate shower head. I let the man in and, without my prompting, he charged down the hall and into our bathroom, threw off his sandals and jumped up into the tub, removed the shower head, uttereed a string of sentences in Arabic which I made clear I didn't understand in the slightest, and then left. "Hmm," I thought, "I wonder where our shower head's gone." Non-plussed, I left for the café where I would end up spending nearly three hours talking with Natalie and later, Danna, another student in my class who happens to be from the Chicago area, about graduate school, our lives, and the NGO Natalie started that works with Sudanese gangs in Cairo, attempting to prevent violence. We all ended up having a late lunch and staying much longer than we'd anticipated as our topics of conversation were stimulating and it was nearing iftar, so everything else was closed down anyway. Developing from this visit was an opportunity with the NGO to teach English to the refugees that Natalie works with. I may do this instead of going through the student group that AUC has organized.
I returned from the café, exchanging numbers with Natalie and making plans to hang out sometime, her assuring me that Egypt takes some getting used to, but she's managed to do it. She's also a former multi-year ambassadorial scholar--funny how many of the young movers and shakers I've met end up having been affiliated with Rotary. I've also made a few other contacts and suspect that my down time will be reduced by more reading, new volunteering opportunities, and new friendships. Today was a "good Egypt day".

News of Egypt:
Another fatal accident illustrating the horrendously unsafe driving conditions in Egypt
An article about Qasr al-Nile bridge, a short walk from my apartment (I may've already posted an article about it)
Economic choices for Egypt in hard times
Various articles in Egypt Today's September issue

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