Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles

February 21, 2008


Filed under: What the...? — Kaddee @ 10:56 pm

Jack and I watch very few movies. Mostly (according to Jack) it is my fault. When he asks if I want to see or go out to a movie, the answer is frequently “No”. In my own defense, that is usually because I’m tired or ambivalent. Still, we know little about current movies.

We belong to a social club in Cairo that has, among it’s amenities, a video/DVD rental kiosk. Recently, Jack picked up 3 movies – all his own choices. We’ve watched 2 of the 3.

Snakes on a Plane” – gotta say that this was one of the WORST, campiest, most poorly conceived movies I’ve seen in a long time. For a snake-lover and biologist, the portrayal of the snakes (go ahead, roll your eyes!) was nightmarish and completely unrealistic. The storyline and acting was BAD, at best. The only redeeming moment was Samuel L. Jackson’s classic line – and that was not worth waiting thru 90% of the movie to get to.

In contrast:
Madagascar” – was AWESOME. Funny, silly, catchy and well executed. Jack has taken on the persona of Julien (the Lemur King – “I like to move it move it…“). I would HIGHLY recommend this one for a great escape. The penguins are outstanding!!!

We will have to see how the 3rd movie turns out – “X-men 3“…..

Flocking to Rehab

Filed under: Being There — Kaddee @ 10:43 pm

Like lemmings to the sea, or shoaling salmon in front of hunting orcas.

Not me, you can’t make me. I’m not going to Rehab. Rehab is for quitters (a very old joke, borrowed from unnamed sources).

Rehab – actually el Rehab city – is a gated, planned community about 4km from the New Campus of AUC. Housing is running a number of tours for faculty and staff to look at housing units there, so that when the new campus opens in September, employees can live close. Sounds great, right?

I have avoided suburbs, planned communities and gated enclaves for my entire adult life in the States. I accepted a job at the American University in CAIRO – not to live in “New Cairo” or any other part of the Eastern Desert. The move to Cairo, for me, was to be in it – be a part of one of the world’s largest, most vibrant, most polluted, oldest, most written about “centers of the civilized world” and experience all the good, the bad and the ugly of it. I have seen lots of all of it – good, bad and ugly, and I’m…good with it…happy about it….frustrated about it….in love with it and often ready to board the next plane home, all at one time. I think that is part of being in a HUGE metropolitan environment regardless of where in the world it is located. This is MY OPINION. Mine is not the only opinion, nor the “right” one for anyone but me. And for ME Rehab is not an option.

That said, since the tour, the caucusing has been FIERCE. From both sides of the fence. The Kool-Aid has been distributed, the red Kool-Aid kids and the blue Kool-Aid kids are both equally convinced that they “understand” things better than the other. And DAMMIT they are gonna convince anyone who differs in opinion.

I have to admit – I am my own kind of Kool-Aid drinker (I think mine is ORANGE). I think other people’s decisions are warped, yet I am also attempting to allow others to make their own decisions.

The convincing and proselytizing and one-argument rhetoric is the thing that I am having the most trouble with. If one truly feels that “I can’t handle the commute” (predicted to be 2 to 3 hours per day from my current neighborhood), then DON’T COMMUTE. Please don’t tell me that I SHOULDN’T COMMUTE because YOU feel YOU can’t. I know that the commute is going to be awful, and I would still rather do that than live in the gated suburb, 30km from Cairo.

I know FOR ME, that if I were to live out there, I would never see Cairo-proper again. If the commute was unmanageable to begin with then I certainly wouldn’t want to drive or taxi into town AFTER a long day of work and then back out again after dinner and visits. And, FOR ME, if I’m gonna have to spend 3 hours getting to and from Cairo, I’d rather be in the city for all my free time, limited as that may be.

I have made MY decision for next year – I will be staying in my urban oasis and suffering the commute daily. I may regret my decision, and wish for a stint in Rehab – but I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.

February 11, 2008

Releasing fear

Filed under: Learning Curve — Kaddee @ 11:43 am

I chide myself frequently for the things I fear. They are not the “normal” things like death (mine or loved ones), political instability around me, or even aging. My fears all center around not being able to do things properly (which for me means perfectly). It sounds really egotistical and trite when I write it out, but there you go.

One of the things that I’ve had chronic fear about since moving to Cairo is speaking Arabic. It is a difficult language phonetically. It has a totally new alphabet from the one I’ve known all my life. It is written from right to left. Words are as nuanced as English, but I haven’t grown up with the language, so I know only the dictionary definitions, not the “meanings” of the words.

I have been taking Arabic lessons since I arrived. I have had private tutoring, class lessons, intensives, courses on basic conversation and on grammar. Still I am afraid to speak.

“My vocabulary is limited.”
“What if I mispronounce something and OFFEND someone?”
“What if what I say MEANS something else?”

I’ve started my tutoring AGAIN with a new tutor, whom I really like. We “chat” half-English/half-Arabic. I learn new words and phrases that are relevant to things I am doing in my daily life (BEGED!!!)

In the taxi this morning, I was mistaken by the driver as being able to speak Arabic. I took the leap, and used VERBS and PHRASES that I’ve learned but never said. The driver kept up the chatter, asking me questions – which I actually answered! By the time I got to the university, I had managed to explain PRECISELY (bezopt) where I wanted to be dropped off AND he was offering me one of his tama’ya sandwiches for breakfast!! LOL – what a great start to the day.