Monday, March 2, 2009

Another normal day in Cairo, as if there is such a thing. I step out into the sunshine, put in my earphones to try to drown out the ceaseless honking and the cries of the bikya men. My sunglasses shield my eyes from the bright sun while shielding from my glares the drivers of black and white taxis plowing into the intersection of Nubar and Tahrir streets despite the commands of traffic cops, nearly committing a dozen or so acts of vehicular manslaughter each. Unfazed, I weave through the crowd on the southwest corner waiting for buses they have to have a running start to board since the drivers often don't bother braking. I pass the area where men gather to pray when the calls from the loudspeakers beckon them five times daily, past the post office where I sheepishly try out my Arabic a handful of times each month in order to procure stamps for post cards and letters. I pass the banana cart where Fahmi Street empties into Falaki Square, noticing with curiosity and concern that the windshield of a car parked by the string of banks there was smashed in. Things like that just don't happen in Cairo. I tell myself it must've been an accident as I glance down at the old women selling vegetables from their unchanging perches on the sidewalk across from the man who shines shoes. I pass covered ATMs and a police post, a florist and a fruit stand and then dodge a group of idle men gawking at a flatscreen TV with a football (soccer) game on in the window of the new Truman electronics store for the opening of which the entirety of Falaki Square was illuminated with multi-colored lights, a special tent set up and some kind of religious ceremony held. The restaurant next door bills itself as and "exlant" Egyptian "tourist restaurant" but I've never seen a tourist inside. That they also advertise delicious brains for sale might dissuade a large majority of them. On the same block are the entrance to the Bab al-Luq souq where one can buy produce and meat if you don't mind braving pools of blood and narrow thoroughfares and a dedicated honey store. Varying my routes as I learned to do from my summer with the State Department (though I suppose blogging about them in detail defeats the purpose), I sometimes turn left and head down Falaki Street, pass the Isis corner store where I occassionally buy bread, and make a right into one of the three entrances to the Greek Campus where I have all of my classes this semester. I meet friends in the courtyard and chat or read for class depending upon how studious I'm feeling. Other times, if I take an entirely different route, I grab fuul and ta3mayya at Canary and grin at the same employee who always laughs with me as I get lost in the shuffle of hungry Egyptians. Or maybe he's laughing at me; I presume I do look quite goofy rather often.
Methods class today revolved around proper form in conducting efficient and ethical surveys. Wording, we learned, is everything. Clarity and sensitivity respect the interviewee and contribute to accuracy. The class is divided into groups who will be working on different projects. I was please to have been assigned to a group with my friends Cynthia, Brandy, and Reham. We'll be conducting a survey on the family life of Nigerian economic migrants.
Determined not to spend any money today after yesterday's indulging, I had both lunch and dinner at home. Eggplant and sun-dried tomato spread on 'aish, salad, dates, and halawa made a fantastic lunch, while my dinner of penne pasta with tomato and onion sauce accompanied by peas and carrots was unimaginative, but tasty as usual.
Well, hopefully my little slice of life narrative wasn't overly boring. With the spate of violence recently, I actually prefer a bit of boredom. The US Embassy sent out a message to the expat community today saying of the events that they "do not appear to be connected, but there is some indication that additional incidents are planned".

US invites Palestinian bloggers to cover Sec. State visit to Egypt but Egyptian government bars one from entering the country
Mixed reviews of the diplomatic efforts surrounding the rebuilding of Gaza
President Mubarak's son, Gamal, visits US

1 comment:

darkeve said...

Actually your adventures in Cairo are quite interesting. I went to that very same place everyday for 5 years and I obviously didn't get to see many of the places you just wrote about. I was a fan of Isis though.