Friday, November 27, 2009

You may have surmised by the dearth of my entries that I finally got serious about my thesis. Kind of. I'm still not all the way finished, but recapping Thanksgiving and 'Aid are worth a few moments.
Yesterday, Marise, Phil, Erin, Cynthia and I went to Lucille's for Thanksgiving dinner. There was turkey with gravy and stuffing for the carnivores, and sweet potatoes with marshmallows, corn, carrots, green beans, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes for everybody except for Cyn who opted for a south of the border Thanksgiving and ordered nachos. For dessert was some very respectable pumpkin pie. While we laughed off the cheesiness of going around the table and each reporting what we were most thankful for this holiday, I think we were each cognizant of how much we had come to mean to one another in the three semesters. It was great to be with the people I've become closest to in Egypt even though it made me all the more conscious we only have a couple more weeks living in proximity, bumming around at each others apartments, and eating out like it's going out of style.
Today, Phil (never the early riser) woke me up and demanded I follow through on our plans to go see what was afoot for 'Aid al-Adha in the nearby neighborhoods. Last year, I saw little more than a puddle of blood and a detached hoof in the street. This year, Phil and I stumbled upon a whole crowd observing and participating in the ritual sacrifice of several cows. The men and boys welcomed, asked our names, explained what was going on, and asked what we thought of Algeria and the recent soccer match. We snapped lots of photos. Yesterday, on the way to Thanksgiving dinner, we'd seen a lot of livestock--one sheep was squirming in the trunk of a white taxi. Today we saw what was to befall all the transiting animals. I'd never seen a cow slaughtered before. I imagine that the three of my grandparents who grew up on farms would be more inured to the process, but my relationship with farm animals has been limited mostly to petting zoos and steak restaurants. There was something almost serene about the process. People watched intently as a whole team of men calmed each animal, set it on its side, and dispatched it swiftly. It didn't die right away, and that was perhaps the hardest part to deal with it. I won't explain all the details out of deference to more squeamish readers. But the best part was watching people's reactions. The little kids were more fascinated than scared and for other people, it was routine--just another 'Aid. We bid the kids we'd been talking to goodbye and returned home. I wondered how people back home would treat a couple of Arabs wandering into a celebration. I'd like to hope we'd be as welcoming.
Back to my thesis! 'Aid mubarak!

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