Not in Cairo anymore…

Posted on Friday 15 January 2010

Another one of those reminders about how different things are here. Not always better, not always worse, just different.

Yesterday I went to the pharmacy to get a prescription filled. The nice lady behind the counter checked and they did not have the item I required.

She offered to phone the pharmacy across the street to see if they had it.

I said that would be great and that I would do some other shopping while she did that.

I go through the store to get the other items I needed and returned to the pharmacy window.

The nice lady says:

Yes, they have it across the street. Here is your prescription.

and she handed me the doctors prescription sheet and smiled.

I blinked.

I blinked again.

Then it dawned on me.

They are not going to send “a boy” scurrying across the street to fetch my medication for me.


ay da?!

And this is supposedly a civilized country!


Jack @ 8:15 am
Filed under: Being home andCultural Differences
El Koshary

Posted on Monday 28 December 2009

Stolen from another blog I read, Egypt’s version of “The Onion”.

El Koshary

Jack @ 9:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Posted on Friday 18 December 2009

Tonight I get on a plane to NYC. This is the first time I have flown domestically in 3+ years.

And it is the first flight since we arrived back in the US in July.
…. that is 5 months since our last flight.

In 3 years in Egypt I am pretty sure we never went that long between flights.

We are doing something wrong..

Jack @ 1:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Fascinating vs Charming

Posted on Monday 14 December 2009

A friend of ours states that the equation for a successful social gathering  involves the correct ratio of “fascinating” people to “charming” people.

Fascinating people are the folks that have great stories and love to tell them.

Charming people are the folks that listen, with pithy commentary such as “oooh. really?”, “that’s hilarious” and the ever popular “wow”

I trust you get the idea.

Since we have been back in the US, we find ourselves being fascinating far more often than charming.

Not sure what to do about that.

Jack @ 5:30 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
MMMM Koshary

Posted on Tuesday 8 December 2009

A blog I read, Living in Egypt,
recently linked to a satirical news site in Egypt called El Koshary Today.

Sort of an Egyptian “The Onion”.

Most of it won’t really be amusing or enlightening unless you have spent time in Egypt.

But it is a pretty good chuckle anyway.

Man I would love a bowl of koshary.

Jack @ 7:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Will the last one out please turn out the lights..

Posted on Sunday 6 December 2009

We just heard that another set of friends from AUC are moving on up.

They are relocating to Dubai.

Another couple has moved to Oslo.

Another couple has moved to Portland (OR).

Another friend relocated to the SF Bay area.

This is all since we left in August.

Of our “cohort” (which is the group of people that went through orientation with us) we can’t think of anyone that is still there.

Now I am sure that there is an influx of people coming in, and we do still have a few friends there. But from this end, it looks like AUC is emptying out.

There was also a recent article about a 30% drop in study abroad students this year.

All of these are bad signs.

Now it is possible that people coming in now may have higher retention. Mainly because they don’t know any better. I mean, we moved there when the campus was still downtown. There were lots of reasons to dislike or even despise the downtown campus. But at least it wasn’t in the middle of the desert.

People that came in when we did (or before) were (at least partially) drawn there to live _in_ Cairo. Many of them were unhappy with the move to new campus.

Some of our friends have made choices to stay for various reasons:

  • Close to retirement
  • Their field of study requires them to be in Cairo or the Middle East
  • Financial: one can live very comfortably in Cairo on a academic’s salary. Much more comfortably than most places in the US. Certainly more comfortable than any large city in the US

But it seems that people with options are leaving.

This AUC Diaspora is good in one way for us (and it _is_ all about us):

We now have friends scattering to the four corners of the globe. Which means lots of free lodging!

Jack @ 3:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
AUC Professor mentioned in police blotter in Seattle’s alternative newspaper

Posted on Friday 13 November 2009

“The Stranger” weekly alternative newspaper in Seattle has a slightly….. artistic (autistic?) bent to it, as is to be expected (and encouraged) in an alternative newspaper.

They have a regular feature that retells selected entries from the police blotter.

Last week’s entry made me think of Cairo for 2 reasons:

  • FIRE! (which will only make sense to some of our friends in Cairo…)
  • it referenced a name that was vaguely familiar. I read the article, paused and went back to re-read the name to make sure it said what I though it said…

It made me chuckle.

Jack @ 3:21 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Do’s, don’ts and don’t-have-tos

Posted on Monday 7 September 2009

Re-acclimating to Settle brings with it a bunch of do’s, don’ts and don’t-have-tos, big and small.


  • OBEY RED LIGHTS. My god, what a waste of time to sit there waiting for the light to change.
  • Use the sidewalks. Ay da?
  • Carry my own groceries. How barbaric.


  • Don’t cross the street in the middle, weaving between cars. This seems to startle the locals.
  • Don’t walk in the street. ITS A PEFECTLY GOOD STREET, but nooooo, we have to walk on the sidewalk.
  • Don’t audibly make fun of people as you pass them on the street. They can understand me here.
  • Don’t sing at the top of my lungs while listeing to music at work. Being back in a cube farm is a drag. (Thankfully, singing like this on the bus is apparently still accepted practice here in Seattle.)
  • Have to answer inane questions about:

“How did you like it? Glad to be back?”. Again and again…


  • Don’t have to answer inane questions about:

“Where you from? How many children do you have? How many wives do you have”. again and again

  • We don’t have to horde “small money” anymore. We are both constantly opening our wallets to find 15 singles, and 5 fives and realizing “ya know, i don’t need to do this anymore..”
  • Horde booze. I nearly had a seizure when kaddee used the _good_ cream liquor in the coffee on Sunday morning.

What the hell are you doing? Don’t waste that in coffee! Don’t you know how hard it is to get that?!. My god we have to……………….  uh, go down the street and buy another bottle. Never mind.

Jack @ 9:54 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
“He was like ‘OMG! WTF?’ and I was all ‘what–ever!’”

Posted on Thursday 27 August 2009

One of the nice things about living in Egypt is that I couldn’t understand the myriad of inane conversations that surrounded me.
Even when I learned the tiniest bit of Arabic, it was easy to tune out any meaning from the babble around me.

I could imagine that the people around me were discussing poetry, art and philosophy.
I could imagine that there was depth and texture to the discussions.

I am now surrounded by conversations in my native tongue.
I am no longer able to pretend.

Too bad, that.

Jack @ 7:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
You may not be able to go home again, but there are some exceptions…

Posted on Wednesday 19 August 2009

We had lunch the other day at our favorite lunch spot, Salumi.

We have been going there for years. It was one of the last places we dined before leaving for Cairo.

Numerous friends that came to visit us in Cairo stopped at Salumi and picked up a few sticks of salami to bring us.

The friends that stocked our house with vittles for our arrival included a couple of sticks from Salumi.

God bless them all.

But the place, to us, is about more than the food (which is fabulous).

We finally made our first trip back in person in 3 years.

It was like going home to family. It wasn’t the big “NORM!!” kind of thing from the old Cheers sitcom. (We did get that kind of welcome at the Beveridge.)

The welcome we got at Salumi was more like the long lost family. But better. There was none of that awkward “so you’ve been gone for 3 years…. how you been… uh-uh. That’s nice…”, or the “you didn’t call” guilt trip that comes with some family reunions.

This was a warm hug and a smile. We sat and ate with Gina and caught up on each others lives. (Which is different from a lot of our reunions. Most of them are all about what we have been up to. We want to hear about what is new with you too, ya know…)

We talked about the business, what Dino is up to, remembered Izzy (RIP) and all the rest of the gang.

It was almost like we never left.

We left our lunch with a glow that had nothing to do with the wine consumed.

These places are the touchstones that help define “home”.

Jack @ 9:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
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