Thursday, October 8, 2009

Despite my best efforts yesterday, I was unable to write an entry because the perfect weather and cool breezes at the new campus overcame me. That and the fact that half the wireless access points in my vicinity weren't allowing me onto the internet. It's always a give-and-take with AUC. But really, when said cool breezes are being enjoyed from a desert development rather than blowing bits of rubbish and waves of pollution into your face, you really realize that October in Egypt is sublime. It's more than just clean air though that makes the AUC campus different. Being surrounded by even pavement, skinny jeans, AUC English, and being able to have an arugula and mushroom salad with Roquefort (though I was shocked when my supposed Roquefort was served shredded, alas) make me feel like I should be carrying a passport when I leave downtown for new campus. Meanwhile, back in reality, Egypt has slipped 11 spots in the Human Development Index. The measurement takes into account not only GDP, but factors like life expectancy and education. Find a breakdown of how Egypt measures up here.
I started at the Writing Center yesterday, albeit nearly an hour late as apparently the downtown-to-desert buses come and go as they please. I had to run after the one I did manage to get, or rather speedwalk given that the state of traffic at the time kept the coach stationary for sometime. The atmosphere at the Writing Center is terribly congenial. Katie, an acquaintance from last year, showed me the ropes after Tim, the director, filled me in on the basics. Katie and I are one of a handful of graduate fellows who staff the Center. Professors fill the rest of the time slots. Though I didn't have the chance to meet with any students (half of the few appointments we had were not attended), I sat in on a session Katie did. Because it would be in bad form to speak in any specifics about students who come to the Center, I'll only mentioned that I found it interesting that one of the topics he brought up in his paper was religion and how shocking it was when he first met an atheist. I've heard this more generally in Egypt, that it doesn't occur to people that broads swaths of the world's population may not believe in God. In the end, the student became friends with the atheist and all was well, but I wonder how an Egyptian atheist would fare. Maybe like this.
I look forward to things picking up as the semester goes on and getting to know the other tutors better. I'm sure that sounds schmaltzy, but I mean it. And hopefully in the downtime, I'll be able to continue making progress on my thesis. Though I don't plan on attending graduation in February (presuming I'm allowed to graduate after this semester), I'll have my own celebration in honor of vanquishing this many-pagèd beast. Funnily enough, as I was listening to Katie's simple suggestions and re-reading the manual, I thought to myself "Wow, brainstorming? outlines? thesis statements and topic sentences? How novel! I probably could've planned out my entire thesis before plunging headfirst into the writing process". Ma3lesh. I work better when I write an amorphous nonsensical mass that is later tamed and transformed into something half-way presentable.
Oh, the 6th of October finished up well too. Last semester when walking to Doqqi, I met an Egyptian student who was hellbent on befriending me despite my best attempts at pretending I couldn't hear anything or anyone over my iPod. We ended up talking, he helped me find where I was going. He asked if we could hang out sometime, explaining his love of Americans and the wide variety of nationalities that filled his coterie. Skeptical about joining his menagerie, I feigned ignorance of my own cellphone number and, instead, gave him my full name to allow him to find me on Facebook. He was tenacious and we Gchated occasionally and kept in touch through the summer and the first month of this semester. I finally relented to his indefatigable niceness and we met up for ful and ta3meya sandwiches. I made Marise come along which put the kabosh on Sayed's desire to stroll Qasr al-Nil Bridge. For some reason, he couldn't be convinced of the severity of the harassment young women meet with walking in Cairo, but we managed to convince him to settle for the next bridge up which was emptier and where we could park the car right next to our windy perch overlooking the Nile. We talked about Sayed's dreams to visit America, the French lessons he was taking at the CFCC, about his family, and about Marise's. In passing, the displacement of Marise's paternal family from near the Suez led to an entirely coincidental discussion of the October War with the subsequent realization that we were on the 6th of October Bridge. How perfectly patriotic of us. Or something.
Today, my classes recommence. I have Migration and Refugees in International Relations later this afternoon. Gone are the days of swine-flu vacations and undisturbed days confined to the apartment working on my thesis (and/or Facebook skills).
And now, the news:

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