Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles

October 17, 2008


Filed under: NSTIW — Kaddee @ 12:46 pm

For those of you who know me, you know i adore my coffee. I drink all kinds of REAL coffee. I abhor what passes as coffee at many places in Egypt – Nescafe. That, my dear, is not coffee.

For the past 2 years, I have had the great joy and privilege of being treated each work day, upon my arrival at my office, to freshly made Turkish coffee (ahwa) delivered to my desk. This is a treat that I relish, and also about which I felt a great amount of middle-class-guilt. I have learned to get over the guilt, and just enjoy the coffee.

Since the move to New Campus, our labs (and therefore the alcohol burners that made the flame to make the coffee) have been in boxes, in chaotic messes, inaccessible to anyone. I have [sob] been without ahwa in the morning since school began!

*SIDE NOTE – I was so bummed by this, and so used to ahwa every morning (we’d been doing that in Dahab all through August) that I broke down and bought an alcohol burner for our flat! HEHHEH FIRE!

My coffee options on the New Campus have been less than stellar.

  • There is Cinnabon – LE17 for a cup of coffee (outrageous!).
    • I don’t drink this in the States, I’m certainly not going to drink it here.
  • There is Cilantro – LE19 for a cup of coffee (give me an aneurysm!).
    • Not only is the coffee stupidly expensive, it is TERRIBLE.
  • There is Jared’s Bagels – LE6 for an 8 oz. cup of so-so drip coffee.
    • Obviously this is the only reasonable option!

So my options have been determined – even though all of them are decidedly American-style food outlets, and I would really rather have Egyptian-style, seeing as I am in Egypt!

Recently, there has been some problem at Jared’s. When I order my small (8 oz.) drip coffee, I am told, “No small. Only large (12 oz.).”

So I ask, “Hmm, why only large?”

“No small cups.”

At this point, my American brain and my Egyptian training go to war with each other.

  • American brain – “That is STUPID, just fill the 12 oz. cup 2/3 full and call it a small.”
  • Egyptian training – “OMG, don’t try to explain that to them. It will take 20 minutes, and you will never succeed in making them understand. Just take the damn large coffee!!”
  • American brain – “But I don’t WANT a large coffee.”
  • Egyptian training – “Then throw out what you don’t want. It is faster and less stressful in the long run. You are only wasting LE1.50 ($0.25)!”

Egyptian training won out. Jared’s has not had small coffees since we got back from Eid. I’m just getting large now – it is so much easier.

We learn to comply with ridiculous situations, because it is easier than trying to fight the battle. Unfortunately each small compliance solidifies the ridiculousness into normalcy.

October 11, 2008

Eid in Athens

Filed under: Travel — Kaddee @ 9:08 pm

Ramadan is over, the Feast (Eid) is now ending after 4 days of celebration, and a national holiday (6 October). Many AUCians “get the hell outta Dodge” during the Eid. In years past, we’ve been to Morocco and Lebanon. Friends have been to Thailand, Madagascar and other exotic places. For us, this year, we had certain criteria -

  • First and foremost, we DID NOT want to be in a country that was ALSO celebrating the Eid. You may ask, “Why?” Well, just as in Cairo, other predominantly Muslim countries essentially shut down for the feast, making vacation and sight-seeing very difficult.
  • Second, we wanted a direct flight. The Eid was only a few days long, and we didn’t want to spend most of the time traveling or recovering from jet lag.
  • Third (and this was really just for Jack), we had to try to go somewhere that I had already been, but he hadn’t. Again, you may ask, “Why?” Well, he wants to “catch up” on the countries visited tally – in which I am currently comfortably ahead.

We chose Athens. Greek Orthodox, direct flight, my last visit was in 1987. Check, check and check. And for me, as with our trip to Rome, the years have been long enough that it is practically a new place for me. We planned virtually nothing, and simply got on a plane and left. It was a much needed break for both of us.

HERE are a few select photos from the trip.

October 7, 2008

Thoughts from the Commute

Filed under: Being There — Kaddee @ 10:49 am

7September – first day of classes, first day of the commute:

Leaving the dirt and chaos,
Delving into newness, construction
Hope in the desert
Making personal oases?

Rising dread and fear,
This is NEVER what I wanted.

7October – just returning from the Eid break, one month since classes began:

Daily the ride is the same
Trip distance is a constant
The distance that changes
by magnitudes each minute
Is that of my heart.

My dreams, my Egypt
that which I had come to grips with
Recedes rapidly as I am transported
to the desert mirage.

Feeling suffocated in the openness
Wishing that, like the mirage,
this would evaporate as I approached.