We have been locked up for 3 days, and our insane, wonderful friends have made it bearable. We have been the recipients of numerous, generous care packages.
We have received movies, books, homemade chocolate chip cookies, NewYorker and Gourmet magazines, wine, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit, and even knitting supplies (yarn & needles) for entire projects. Yup – all in care packages.
Friends have gone to the grocery store for us and dropped by essentials like bread, milk and toilet paper – the types of things one doesn’t usually ask someone else to buy for them.
Our friends have stood outside the building, waved, blown kisses, offered spice cakes complete with files and even motorbikes for pulling a Steve McQueen to get out of here.
Last night was the most creative and fun idea yet – friends had dropped off a Trivial Pursuit game, and challenged us to a game via Skype! So 5 of us played – 2 in quarantine in Zamalek, 3 hanging out in Garden City. After about 2 and a 1/2 hours we were no where near finishing, but we were all laughing and having a great time. Who’d have thought that a video Skype connection could be so much fun (legally)?? Apparently our excellent friends!
Our friends are amazing. We are getting calls, texts and e-mails every day to make sure we are ok. People have been amazingly generous of their time and supplies to make sure that we are comfortable and entertained.
I’ve just completed my third trip around the sun since moving to Cairo. The first one marked a decade – the rest have been just as good.
We celebrated this one with our farewell “Third Tuesday” happy hour(s) at our flat. We’ve been hosting this gathering for the majority of the three years here, and this was our final one.
It has been a great run – we had an incredible turnout of people for the “Mawlid” extravaganza and final happy hour at our place. I will miss the people and the community greatly. We have built a really good band of crazy friends here. Leaving them makes me sad.
There will be things that I won’t miss – having to cover my shoulders and knees in PUBLIC, not being allowed to touch or kiss my hubby in public, CRAP WINE!!!! But all-in-all, I wouldn’t trade this three years, the people I’ve met, the things I’ve seen, the joys and frustrations I’ve experienced, for ANYTHING in the world. Certainly not the “safety” and “normalcy” of staying in the States.
I’m not sure that my forays around the sun have made me any wiser, but they have certainly been FUN. Looking forward to many more.
Even if they do bring ugly luggage BACK to Cairo that we were so happy to be rid of!
We have had (we think) our last set of visitors during our stay in Cairo. S & M came bearing all kinds of wonderful gifts – the best of which was their presence in our house (although the pork products and Roca were WELL appreciated!). Nothing like friends to remind you that it really is time to go home!
These two were excellent house guests! They amused themselves and us. They struck out into the city of Cairo without us, and came back unscathed and with great stories.
The Faculty Services Committee always does a great job of arranging for tours around the city sites, and social events such as dinner cruises. This semester our dinner cruise was on the (fun and kitschy) Pharaoh’s Boat in Giza.
The boat is FULLY DECKED OUT with Pharaonic kitsch and schwag. We were met at boarding by a “Pharoanic Guard”, the boarding pier sports a “golden” obelisk and a “solar boat” bar, and the 2 Pharaoh boats are all gilt and glyphs. I have to admit that as much as I have laughed at the boats in the past, I had a great time being silly and enjoying the atmosphere.
Luckily I was accompanied on this adventure by two very good girlfriends, who had also decided to make this a marvelous and silly adventure. Of course, the adventure started early, with the breaking of a wine glass “Chez Vorg”, because I poked the cat (don’t ask).
The food on the boat was better than I’d expected, especially the Indian options – yes, I said INDIAN, being served on the Pharaoh Boat.
The belly dancer was not excellent, but she was also not the worst I’ve seen – by far.
Video of the belly dancer.
The dervish was fun, especially terrifying everyone as he spun his ??top skirt?? above everyone’s heads as he wandered between the tables.
All in all it was a fun night out with friends, cruising on the Nile and being entertained – all subsidized by the University. Does life get much better?
A little late….but….I sent this e-mail out to the AUC community:
“Thanksgiving is, for most Americans, a time of getting together with the family to eat too much.
For many of us in Cairo, our families are a LONG way away. Many AUCians travel for the Thanksgiving long weekend, and others stay in Cairo.
On the occasion of Thanksgiving, members of my family being in town, and … because it is fun, we are having an ORPHANS THANKSGIVING at our flat on FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28.”
We didn’t know how many would come. We ended up with about 18 in total (including myself, gozi, my mom and my aunt). It was WONDERFUL.
Mom and Auntie took care of all the “arrangements” – furniture, table cloths, dishes, serving stations, bar, etc. They did a FAR better job than I could have done, and seemed to actually enjoy doing it!
Jack and I cooked – Jack did the turkey and stuffing, I did appetizers and dips, gravy and tried to manage the other dishes as they arrived with guests. Somehow all the chaos turned into a really fun gathering of people – family, AUC, visitors. The conversation was lively, the appetites were hearty, the tupperwares left FULL of leftovers and we went through nearly a case and a half of wine (thankfully much of it was brought by guests – we couldn’t have supplied all that wine!).
I have to admit – I LOVE Thanksgiving (on time or belated) because it is all about the food and the friends. And just for fun, a few TERRIBLE photos.
We had to set up both our dining room table, and push together two desks from the offices to make enough space for everyone to sit. We were a bit mashed together, but it worked out ok.
We were very worried about having enough food, a common paranoia for both gozi‘s upbringing and mine. We had MORE than enough. AND desserts that were to DIE FOR.
So, here I am in Egypt, virtually unable to knit/crochet for lack of materials. I know I bemoaned this fact already in another post (October 2007). However, not to be kept down, I’ve been making the best of my situation.
TV brought me some lovely yarn from Germany just after my blog-hissy-fit about yarn and knitting!
The German, superwash sock yarn has successfully turned into a gorgeous, lightweight crocheted scarf for Jack (or…maybe…ME!)
The “Yucky” yarn (posted about earlier) was (grudgingly) turned into some of the most HIDEOUS house sock/slippers one could ever imagine. Unfortunately there was not enough wool content in the fiber mix to felt them for truly horrendous footwear.
In January, my cousin showed up with 5 (YES FIVE) skeins of various colors of worsted weight wools stuffed into her backpack!
As you can see in the photo – one skein is already a scrolled scarf, and another is substantially depleted – becoming a post-dive beanie.
Yet another friend (who understands the addiction of yarn/craft-type things) brought me a “kit” for a spectacular shawl. The kit included the yarn – a silk and “Seacell” (spun kelp fiber) mix, the needles and the instructions! I’ve been working on this little-by-little since April. The end of the semester really cut into my knitting time! (And, I have to admit, I finished a crocheted summer sweater/shrug in the interim).
I appreciate all the support for my addiction to yarn and knitting. I am looking forward to working through the yarn and projects that I have in mind. I searched for more, but was denied more yarn on our recent trip to Barcelona and Rome!
We are truly blessed! We have been in Egypt less than 2 years, and have had an INCREDIBLE number of visitors! No kidding. We have had more visitors than many of our friends, who have been here for upwards of 5 to 10 years!
We could account for this in a couple of ways:
We are sooooo ultimately cool, that EVERYONE wants to be with us
Unlikely, but fun to contemplate
Egypt is a rather exotic destination. Having friends who live here makes the visit MUCH easier and FAR less stressful
Seeing us only one time per year is far more enticing than our regular and frequent appearances at all YOUR abodes in the States
There may be other reasons, but I’m leaning towards “B”. This is not a problem. Jack has posted a “reciprocation ultimatum” on his blog. That sounds really good to me. Y’all need to spread out to locations around the world where we haven’t been – we’d really appreciate it.
All that being said – we have been the “revolving door” hotel for the last month. It has been a month of laughter, misty eyes, short nights and tourist “crap-tacular” (thanks Joe!) events .
We enjoy our friends, and would do whatever we can for them. Yet I always find it surprising that they feel similarly. Recent visitors have arrived with supplies ranging from our favorite type of deodorant to crossword puzzle books (I am a TOTAL ADDICT) and crushed red pepper flakes to AN ENTIRE SMITHFIELD HAM, a digital photo frame (complete with pics of our “other life” in Seattle) and incredibly wonderful yarn and patterns. We have literally been floored by the incredibly thoughtful and personally relevant items that people have bestowed upon us.
To all of our guests while we have been in Egypt (and those who are planning/speculating or otherwise dreaming of coming) – Tosherofna (We are honored by your presence).
This semester has been rough. Mostly due to my own pressures and expectations on myself – as is usually the case. There have been a few true “saving graces” that have helped get me through.
Jack, of course, has been amazing. In his own inimitable manner, he has reminded me that life is more than the job one has. “Work less, live more” He has pointed out my ridiculous breaks from logic and made me laugh at myself.
Other touchstones for sanity have been the truly excellent people that we’ve gotten to know. One friend (Thank you, Tiffany) even brought me back YARN from Germany!!! Other friends have “helped” me make time to go shopping and remember to get out of my office. Now my mom is back in Egypt for her 2nd visit and we are hanging out and doing whatever strikes us.
The switch from “School/Work” to “Holiday” each year is a jarring transition, this year had even more craziness wrapped up in the work than usual, and the friends and family have made it all worthwhile.
Jack and I belong to the British Community Association, a British ex-pat club. It is a relatively small club where we go to escape the (often incestuous) tendrils of AUC as our only social outlet. The staff at the club are a marvelous group of Egyptians. Somehow they manage to put up with a lot of colonialist tendencies from the club members with great elan.
We really enjoy the club, the staff, the atmosphere. Last weekend, we were informed that one of the barmen was getting married. “Mabruk” (congratulations) we told him. The next time we saw him was on Monday, when he asked Jack if we would come to the wedding. So on Monday we were invited to a Thursday wedding. This is normal here. Wedding invitations are frequently oral, and, even more frequently, extended up until mere hours before the ceremony.
So…Jack and I had to scramble to find appropriate attire for a wedding! Jack found a shop with summer suits on sale, and got two (yes, two) beautiful new suits! I scrounged in my closet and made due with what I had – off-white linen dress and Egyptian blazer. I would have LOVED to find something new, however the week was incredibly busy and I had no time to shop.
Last night was the wedding. We met up with some others at the club, and went to Heliopolis (where the church was) from there. Apparently in the “good” Coptic churches weddings are scheduled practically on top of each other. Our friend’s wedding was at 8pm. We arrived at 7:30pm, and there was a wedding in progress. We walked into the church and watched the end of that wedding.
While wedding A was going on, minions were scurrying around in the aisles, setting up for the next wedding! New arbors were being erected, flowers were being set out, runners prepared. As *soon* as wedding A finished, wedding B decorations were hurriedly put into place and wedding B began! It was a model of time-efficiency that I have rarely experienced in Egypt!
Our friend’s wedding was beautiful. Very Egyptian. Children were running around in the church, going up to the altar/wedding party to join in and pose for pictures. The bride and groom were smiling and laughing about the whole thing. We understood NONE of the service, since it was Coptic AND in Arabic. The bride and groom were “sermoned to” and then put on ceremonial capes and crowns (I didn’t get a crown for my wedding! pout). The bridesmaid was ululating during the service, followed by most of the women in attendance (including myself – on at least one occasion!)
After the service, everyone was hustled out into a courtyard for the receiving line and pictures while the next wedding was set up and begun. Our friend seemed truly happy that we had come. We had a good time – it was a VERY different experience than any other wedding I’ve been to.
**Interesting side note – An Egyptian friend had once commented to us that if we went to an Egyptian wedding, the photographers and videographers (‘cuz they are ALL filmed) would focus in on the khawagas – foreigners. It was VERY true. In the “other” wedding that we saw, before our friends’, the videographer was panning the crowd and got a good ZOOM in on Jack before continuing the pan. There were a number of khawaga at our friend’s service, and we ALL got a bunch of face time on the film, as well as being photographed with the bride and groom in the receiving line.**