Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles


July 27, 2008

More Chaos – and closure

Filed under: Learning Curve — Kaddee @ 9:45 am

It seems that everyone (especially Gozi - Arabic for my husband) knows that the idea of us moving to another flat, even within Zamalek, is INSANE. Everyone, that is, except me. Until last night.

Back story: in my last installment, I talked about us TRYING and being DENIED a flat in Zamalek. Just after posting that, I received an e-mail from housing. My complete raving b*tch, hissy-fit e-mail about how “…it’s not FAIR…” was received, and responded to. We could move to the other flat, on OUR schedule, if that was what we wanted.

Oh joy! Oh happiness! Oh CRAP!!!!!
This turnaround means a ton of legwork and packing as well as readjustment to a new physical space.
NO PROBLEM! We got the key and began taking measurements.

After a weekend of logistical nightmares, pages of notes about the items that needed fixing, changing or moving, and the realization that certain of our belongings (namely the dishwasher) could not be moved to the new flat (no room in the kitchen without a TOTAL remodel), the “light dawned on Marblehead”.

I cried.
Not because we can’t move – we can if we want to. I cried because of all the stress and wasted energy that had been put into an idea that was doomed from the start. Jack knew that and through it all was a trooper. He measured, commented, made suggestions, came up with harebrained solutions for problems with the flat. All that so that I would “be happy”. And instead I caused unhappiness to both of us.

Well… Closure has been attained. We are not moving. My decision. The problems with the current flat are far fewer and the fact of not having to move far exceeds the benefits of the other place.

Why are others able to see these things so clearly, when I cannot? Maybe it is time for glasses? :)

July 21, 2008

Chaotic Times

Filed under: Chaos — Kaddee @ 1:44 pm

Yes, I have been a lazy bum about keeping up with the blog! Things have been hectic.

We have been talking about spending an extended stay (1 month or so) in Dahab, and FINALLY put in the time to find a place and make it happen.

Last week we were in Dahab looking at flats for August rental. It wasn’t looking too good, AND we were supposed to be changing apartments in Cairo, so hell was breaking loose all over the place.

Long and short of it – we found a nice place in Dahab, close to the beach, our favorite pizza place, and a nice pub; we are not changing flats in Cairo, life has settled down.

I have to admit, I am VERY bummed that the apartment in Cairo didn’t work out. It was SUCH a nice place. AND it was not in the dorm, so I could avoid seeing my students day and night, I could have privacy! But, alas, the housing office decided to be EXTREMELY unhelpful, and eventually told us that IF we wanted to move to that flat, we would have to do it in a span of about 3 days – after the current residents left, and before the start of August or Tough Sh*T.

One opportunity lost, but another gained – August in Dahab.

Last week was a lot of reconnoitering interspersed with some really nice dives – for BOTH of us! Soon we will head back for more diving, interspersed with work (and, for me, Dive Master Training!).

I, apparently, am living in INTERESTING times! :)

July 9, 2008

Hashing in Cairo

Filed under: What the...? — Kaddee @ 4:17 pm

For reasons that I cannot currently recall or fathom, on the 4th of July, in Cairo, I decided to participate in my first Hash.

You may be thinking – “HASH!!!! Is that LEGAL in Cairo????”

FYI from the Cairo Hash House Harriers website:

Variously described as “the lunatic fringe of running” and “the drinking club with a running problem,” the Hash House Harriers are a worldwide loosely organized collection of individual clubs.

The Hash was set in an area called Wadi Degla. A wadi is a dry river bed, or canyon (similar to a Spanish/Mexican arroyo). This particular wadi has been designated an environmental preserve. More info about Wadi Degla HERE (caveat: this article is from 1999, some of the info is out of date). It is a popular place for people to run, walk, cycle, walk the dog, or just get out of Cairo. It is about 45 minutes south of downtown by taxi.

So the Hash is loosely scheduled to begin at 5 but my friends and I (I went with 3 people from the Club) arrived just after 4 – bad planning, as there is no shade in the wadi, and it is a DRY canyon! We tried to stay cool and hydrated until the Hash began.

I decided to do the walk, not the run. Both trails began with an excruciating assent to the rim of the wadi. Twenty minutes of heart-popping climbing on loose rocks and sand. At the top it was unbelievably hot and dry, but also beautiful and a load of fun.

Imagine, if you will, adults with good educations and respectable jobs, running/walking thru the desert shouting “On On” to indicate that they are on-trail, choosing frat-house names as their Hash Names (think Hugh J Nuss), drinking beer and singing silly songs after the Hash is done.

It was a TOTAL BLAST. I look forward to going back!

July 2, 2008

Unusual opportunities

Filed under: BONUS! — Kaddee @ 10:36 am

One of the “draws” for coming to a place like Cairo, and a large(ish) university like AUC, was the access to unusual events and opportunities. I’ve been calling these posts “Bonuses” because in the realm of my life in Cairo, that is how I view them. They are unexpected and wonderful additions to my experience here – and are not readily available to all who visit.

A few days ago, I received this e-mail:

My dear colleagues,

I am going to play a short, informal recital on the harpsichord this Monday, June 30, at 8 p.m. in the Falaki Studio Theater (in the AUC downtown campus, room 312 of the New Falaki building, at Falaki and Sheikh Rihan Streets). The balance of the concert will consist of music for harpsichord of Scarlatti, Bach, and Couperin. Gala El Hadidi will also join me to sing a few arias of Monteverdi and Vivaldi with harpsichord continuo.

The harpsichord in question dropped out of the sky about three weeks ago, on loan from an extremely generous benefactor. Since then I seem to be spending most of my time playing it, as opposed to getting any actual work done. That being the case, it seemed to make sense to invite you all to a recital in order to better acquaint you with this marvelous instrument.

I hope you can join me and Gala on Monday evening.

How often does one get invited to a harpsichord recital? And then, being joined by a singer to “sing a few arias of Monteverdi and Vivaldi”?

I have to admit, I’d never heard a harpsichord being played. I’ve seen them in museums, but to have a friend actually PLAY one was fantastic. The selected pieces emphasized both the strengths of the instrument, and the versatility of the musician. The singer had an incredible mezzo-soprano voice that filled the small venue with sensuous sound.