Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Moon Is Full and So Am I

Despite struggling with some anxiety lately about what exactly to do with my life (in terms of next year and beyond), getting frustrated with the numerous small nuisances that abound in Egypt, and battling insomnia, I had what can rightfully considered a solid, respectable good Egypt day. I got a couple of letters from home (it takes about five or six days for a letter from Chicagoland or Peoria to reach Cairo) that I picked up from the office of the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies through which I have my mail routed. While running this errand on the Greek Campus, I ran into two Egyptian classmates and a classmate from Chicago and ended up having an interesting discussion about upcoming papers due and also Islamic culture. After musing about whether the Islamic or the West had a bloodier history (rather a worthless comparison), the two Egyptians (both Muslims) ended up discussing their diverging views on the role of slavery in Islam and the definition of a concubine (in relation to the Albanian-born Ottoman viceroy of Egypt, Mohammad Ali).
Our class at 4:30 was on the topic I addressed in my reflection paper: Arab and Asian migration to the Gulf region. The discussion was kind of interesting, specifically the question of whether more rights or even citizenship should be according to long-term foreign residents. Soon I have to come up with a topic for a 7 500-word paper for the course. Yikes!
My favorite part of the day, though, was the return to Taboula, the Lebanese restaurant I enjoyed so much the night before last. This time I had a completely different entourage of classmates, two of whom have spent a lot of time in sub-Saharan Africa and were debating whether they'd rather have E. Coli or malaria, one of them having already had the first and the other having suffered from malaria four times. Quite the atypical discussion. Despite the risks, I do still think I'd like to visit sub-Saharan Africa. Sudan has a Rotary presence--maybe I should try and go there. I can see my mother's eyes widening as she reads this. Our American, South African, & Egyptian-composed dinner party numbered seven, all students in the Intro to Migration and Refugee Studies course. Apart from contracted illnesses in other parts of Africa we chatted about the Lebanese food spread before us, our musical interests, religion, Germans, various tribes in Kenya, and the election. Interestingly, those of us eligible to vote in the American election are all united around the same candidate.
The walk home was rather peaceful as I split from the rest of the group who took cabs or a metro back home and I headed down Sheikh Rihan St. which is always much quieter at night than the streets north of it running parralel. I looked up and noticed that the moon was as full as I felt after eating two kinds of hummus, baba ghanoug, falafel, bamiyya (an okra and tomato stew of sorts), halloumi, and taboula. The moon was about the only celestial object I could see as the ever fluorescently lit city with its polluted sky make the stars all but invisible to the naked eye.
Upon arriving home, I turned on BBC World and watched an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski to whom I quite quickly took a shine. The discussion of foreign policy made me a bit wistful that I've veered off of the international relations path somewhat for this foray into refugee studies. I think I'll be all the better for it, though--better-rounded and with a broader understanding of the world and probelms connected to IR.
Returning to the issue of my future, I've recently been poring over fellowship, internship, and employment opportunities while weighing whether or not I should stick around Cairo for a second year to get my Master's. I'm thinking of studying Arabic next summer since that hasn't really been in the cards this semester and may not be next semester either. We'll see! So many opportunities in the word and such little direction!

News of Egypt:
Relationship between the masses and the police indicate tense political reality in Egypt
Egypt destroys 10 tunnels used for transporting contraband to Gaza
Egyptian police murder yet another African migrant trying to reach Israel
The long journey of some Iraqi refugees in Cairo

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