Friday, November 28, 2008


Despite my wistfulness at not spending this traditionally family holiday with my family, I ended up having a great Thanksgiving with friends and classmates and friends of classmates. At Brandy and Mary-Anne's flat in Zamalek, we had a pot-luck dinner complete with standards like stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, salads, pumpkin pie (even if it was a bit Egyptian), and even, to my utter euphoria, a tiny bit of cranberry sauce. Chickens stood in for turkeys for the carnivores. Brandy also served delicious stuffed dates and hummus and veggies for appetizers, adding a little local flavor into the mix. As planned, I brought beet and arugula salad and Tunisian wine. The latter wasn't stellar, but certainly better than anything I've had in Egypt thus far, which is all one can really ask for. I only had a taste though because I've been popping pills left and right for sleeping, for shrinking mosquito bites (Claritin), and to deal with recently arisen stomach aches--oh Egypt, you've caught up with me! As to the last issue, I can only hope I don't have to go to a doctor. Anway, because the world is a very small place, I ended up meeting a Bretonne (a girl from Brittany, the area in France where I studied) who works in Alsace (the area in France where I visited relatives and where a bunch of my mom's ancestors came from) and is a Rotaractor. She'd lived in Egypt some ten or years ago while her father was working here and in Madagascar (where my former supervisor from my State internship is working currently). We yammered on in French about Egypt and Thanksgiving and Rotary all over delicious food. After dinner, a handful of us migrated to a friend's birthday party elsewhere in Zamalek and, though the party overall wasn't my scene, I ran into a French acquaintance I'd met a while back and met a few of his friends. One of them actually goes to school in Rennes (the city where I studied in the aforementioned region of Bretagne) but is from Paris. Of course, more gabbing in French ensued. After the party, Amanda and I had a nice walk through the quiet, mostly-empty neighborhood and ended up at Metro market where I did some spontaneous early-morning grocery-shopping. I caught a cab with one of the best cab-drivers I've had yet. I gave him the same amount I usually give cabdrivers when taxiing from Zamalek to Bab al-Luq, but he seemed genuinely polite and thankful when I handed him the money. Maybe he knew that's what Thanksgiving's all about. Ha. Anyway, it was refreshing, especially since I continually overpay and get sneered at anyway for not lavishing my apparently millions upon the cabbies. Anyway, I got a brief phone call from my dad and his wife while in the cab. They wished me happy Thanksgiving and, when I logged into my email before going to bed, I found out that my host counselor had too. She took the time to send me a Thanksgiving e-card. I got one from my mom too earlier in the day. So much Thanksgiving thoughtfulness!
Today, I'm getting back to work on my paper and treating my stomach with suspicion. When I'd begun to again become disheartened by the magnitude of the paper-writing left to do, I thought of my walk to Zamalek the other day. If I had thought when I was at my apartment of how long the walk was going to be and nothing else, I might've just hopped in a cab. Instead, I enjoyed each step along the way, allowing myself the possibility of taking a cab after each errand. I ended up walking the whole way and not thinking about how much time left or what the distance left was. I enjoyed each place I found myself for what it was. Now, this is obviously more applicable to how I view my time remaining in Cairo, but as far as my papers go, I can only take them step by step. I ought to forget obsessively clicking on the "word count" in Word to see how much academic torture remains and just get on with it. Nose to the grindstone!

Story of a muezzin or prayer-caller in Cairo
Head of Cairo International Film Festival weighs in on future of Egyptian cinema
Moves toward reform in treatment of the mentally ill

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