Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cairo Comeback

Last night was the easiest and most pleasant of my arrivals at Cairo International Airport. The combination of knowing the system, arriving at the most modern terminal, having my bags be among the first to roll out onto the carousel, and having two great friends waiting on the other side of customs to pick me up made returning a whole lot easier and more fun.
I flew EgyptAir which, while not the most glamorous airline, managed to accomodate me with a vegetarian meal. Their in-flight magazine, Horus, was distinctly Egyptian, obsessively providing titles with every name mentioned-CEO Pilot such and such, etc. And then, there was the laughably bombastic article by Zahi Hawass, general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities who spent pages name-dropping, talking about palling around with Obama, and then reliving in detail his personal battle against an Exxon-Mobil exec. So the literature wasn't inspiration, the cabin wasn't especially luxurious nor was the service exceptionally attentive, but the view out my window as we made our final descent was magical. The green lights of the mosques and minarets twinkled brightly within the otherwise orangey-yellow glow of the city whose contours were shaped by the complete darkness of the desert.
From the airport, Marise and Phil spirited me off to the Trianon on the Nile Dragon riverboat where the French music and tasty food at our Nileside table eased even more my transition from Europe back to Egypt. It being Ramadan and me being a glutton, I ordered an entire konafa, having a piece there and bringing the rest of it back home.
Speaking of home, my apartment has a new shine. During my absence, my friend, classmate, and travel companion, Phil moved in with Cynthia and has been conscientious about getting our friend Erin's cleaning lady over. The internet, the water, and the electricity are all functioning as well as the washing machine. Most of these, at some time or another, had gone out over the summer. My AC worked last night but seems only moments ago to have broken again. At least it's not August, I suppose.
I woke up relatively early this morning after spending the early morning hours catching up with Cynthia and Phil. The reality of my being back is upon me--I already got a call from the human rights law department confirming my enrollment in one of their classes and had a little rudimentary Arabic conversation with the gas man whom I had the pleasure of paying. I have class tonight out on the new campus...from 8 - 10:30 PM. The Ramadan schedule is en rigueur for the next couple of weeks and I'm not especially keen on it. Ma3lesh. I'm sure Palestinian Refugee Issues will be a great course. It's with the same professor I had for International Refugee Law and Comparative Migration Law, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I don't start my fellowship duties for a while yet, so I'm not sure of my hours or the details on that.
In less egocentric news:

As the US condemns continued Israeli settlement in Palestine, the Palestinians are calling for other Arab nations to stand in solidarity with them against the illegal move. The next steps Israeli PM Netanyahu will have to be careful ones as he balances pressure from the right-wing with internal and international pushes for peace.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian government's renovations of Jewish historical sites have caused some Egyptians to reconsider the role Jews have played in Egyptian history.

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