Friday, November 21, 2008

Egyptian Hospitality

Yesterday after class, classmates Phil, Marise, and Rebecca joined me in pursuit of Thai deliciousness. It was to be found at Bird Cage, which I've mentioned before. The evening was full of laughs, good conversation, and much-needed relaxation. After dinner, Phil and I hit a nearby store that sells clothes made of Egyptian cotton. I need to start Christmas shopping, so I think it'll be a stop when I make the rounds. After getting home, Ablavie, my Togolese neighbor, came over to hang out with Ross and I. Yet another chance for me to keep up my French!
Today has been just as good and restore my fondness for Egypt (and firmed up my thankfulness for Rotary connections). My new host counselor had me to her home for a late lunch--all Egyptian food. Molokhayya, fatteh, wara ainab, salad, and more. I brought them pastries from the pastry shop near my house, but I'm not sure of their quality. I'm not a connoisseur of Egyptian desserts, but think that if I am trying to be a good guest, I'll go to Al-Abd next time and pick up a tray of sugary goodness. Anyway, the meal was delicious. I decided not to share with Omaima my vegetarian tendencies and thus ate quite a lot of beef. My stomach feels a bit funny, but I think the protein's good for me. Before, during, and after the meal, we had really good discussions about politics. Omaima's husband, Tarek, explained in no uncertain terms his distaste for Hamas and the problems being caused in Palestine. He was also talking about how intractable the conflict in Iraq is. In his opinion, it's going to be harder to resolve than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We also discussed Egyptian names and their meanings and common American names. Tarek told me about his travels in America--apparently he's been to Chicago and Urbana/Champaign in Illinois, Texas, and many other polaces and they have a son that lives in Texas. Both on my way there in the metro and on my way back in their car, I realized that a love for Egypt was seeping back into my soul. It's less fleeting and more realistic than the euphoria that comes with novelty, and hopefully more enduring. It was reinforced by the incredible friendliness and hospitality of my hosts today which in turn was made possible through Rotary. It's finally all starting to work as it should. Al-hamdulileh.

Egypt risks political unrest if economic slowdown not properly handled
Egyptian Minister of Endowments discourages the wearing of the veil
Former Secretary General of the UN condemns Saudi lashing sentence of Egyptian

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