Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sad News from the States

I managed to finish the first of my three final papers yesterday just as Phil arrived to hang out for a while before we met up with a few other people to have Thai. It was a nice meal, but I think the glamor of Bird Cage is wearing off--the service is uniformly poor. Well-intentioned, perhaps, but poor nonetheless. If the prices were lower, it would probably be a bit more palatable. After dinner, Phil and I took some photos exposing them longer to catch a stream of taillights in Tahrir Square.
The jovial and satisfactory nature of the evening was interrupted by disturbing news from a friend from boarding school: my junior year history teacher shot and killed himself in one of the dormitories where he was living and serving as a dorm parent. As it is not yet winter break, the dorm was full and, of course, the kids heard the gunshot. They'll have to live with that for the rest of their lives. Len Jones had a wife from whom he was estranged and a child. I guess he was struggling with that and other personal issues. I have not heard whether or not there was a note left or anything indicating his reasoning in his own words. It's terrible enough when something like this happens at a public or day school, but at a boarding school where the community is so tightly knit and you come to know your teachers very well, it's horrific. To those who might read this who are in the habit of praying, please pray for Mr Jones's family and for the community of Shattuck-St. Mary's, especially the kids who live in the dorm.
Though this has been in the back of my mind, I've been trying to get the apartment ready for when Brian arrives tomorrow. Our office is now a makeshift guest bedroom. I vacuumed, washed dishes, did laundry, wiped a thick, black layer of dust off of pretty much every surface I could, and wrote up a new outline and researched for my paper on the relationship between migration and the nation-state. I took a break to play towla again with Sasha. We each won once. On the way, a kid, perhaps for the Eid, was swinging a censer outside on the sidewalk. As he wafted incense that didn't smell quite right, he asked for money. I literally had none, so I headed straight to my engagement. My heart breaks to see so many people reduced to begging, but it was awful when I was returning home last night. There was a a woman laying with her child in her arms sleeping on a piece of cardboard and under filthy blankets on the sidewalk. This is literally a three-minute walk from my apartment. Up the street and across the square was an imported BMW, albeit surrounded in the litter than fills the streets of Cairo.
Anyway, I better get working on papers so that I have time to do touristy things while Brian's here. Tomorrow is Eid al-Adha, the day when Muslims around the world commemorate Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac at God's command and God's subsequent provision of an animal sacrifice in his place. This means than hundreds of thousands of sheep, goats, and cows will be slaughtered and the streets of Cairo filled with blood. All this while I try and navigate my way to their airport. No stress, of course.

An article on the teacher I mentioned above
Police continue to harrass Egyptian bloggers
Egypt-Hamas relations degrade further

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