Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles

June 2, 2009

Don’t eat the food

Filed under: NSTIW — Kaddee @ 4:45 pm

I’m not talking about ALL Egyptian  food, or even all street food in Cairo.  I am actually referring to a recent Institution dinner that I attended.

Here’s the story:

There has been a tradition at AUC for many years in regards to the departing faculty each semester.  The administration hosts a dinner in honor of those leaving, says nice things about them, gives them a going-away gift and generally makes sure that everyone leaves with a good and rosy memory of their time here – no matter the reason(s) for leaving.

I think this is a very nice thing.  I’ve known many a departing faculty who spoke wistfully about the BBQ in the garden at the Provost’s villa, strings or an oud playing lightly in the background, laughter, wine, spouses, colleagues and Cairo.

There have been many changes at AUC in the years that I have been here, and apparently the dinner at the villa with spouse and friends is a thing of the past.

I was sure it would not be exactly the same as it had been.  We have a new Provost with her own style and ideas, and her villa is in Rehab as opposed to Maadi.  But I didn’t think it would be too different.

Our dinner was held last evening.  Grades were due by Sunday (the day before yesterday), so most faculty are khalas with this semester and are not commuting to the New Campus if they can help it.  Our dinner was ON the New Campus, meaning that the half of the departing faculty that do NOT live in Rehab had nearly 2 hours of round trip commuting to get to the dinner.  Major Bummer.

BREATHE – it will be a nice, relaxing time with colleagues and spouses, a time to say goodbye etc.  UHHH, no.  The dinner was ONLY for the faculty – spouses were not invited.  This seems odd for a campus who is, at least, saying that they want to promote better balance between work and home for the faculty.  This is yet another AUC event that separates me from my non-AUC spouse.

BREATHE – it will be a nice dinner and event.  Well, it was hosted in the faculty cafeteria on campus!  Wahlahi.  This is a nice faculty cafeteria, however this is where many of us eat from the hot buffet most days in between our classes and labs.  It is not really a place that I think of to “take an honored guest”.

So…I was not really excited about attending this event – but many of my friends/colleagues who were also departing would be there, and it might be the last time I would see them (either for a LONG time or EVER).

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’d had a kinda rough morning, because I’d had a long night on Sunday with my friend BS, laughing,drinking wine and celebrating the end of the semester.  But by the time I had to leave for the bus, I was feeling fine.  No traces of the “night before”.

We all gathered at the faculty cafeteria.  Nice words were said.  We got a nice going away gift – no plaque or plate, as is a common custom around here.  We got framed Sufic calligraphy of our names.  Very cool.

Our dinner was a buffet, catered by the food service outfit that feeds us lunch every day.  Egyptian and Lebanese mezzas, kofta and kebab, and shish tawook.  SIGH.

Within about 1/2 an hour, my stomach was churning and I was feeling DISTINCTLY not well.  My friend and colleague, TV, offered to let me sit in her office and chat until my bus came.  In that short amount of time, whatever it was that I ate decided that it didn’t like me, and my stomach decided the same!

I had hoped that my “GI evacuation” on campus would be enough, but no!  I had to ask the bus driver to pull over, not once, but twice, on the elevated highway that runs through the middle of Cairo, so that I could vomit on the highway!  How lovely.  (This does lead me to wonder – if this had happened in the States, would the driver of an urban commuter bus have pulled over on the highway to let me out, wait for me, and then make sure I got home safely??)  Another friend/colleague, PS, who was on the bus with me, helped carry my stuff back to my building, and made sure I got home without incident.  I spent another 45 minutes or so wrapped around the toilet at home before I collapsed into bed for 12 hours of recovery.

I kinda wish I could blame it on the night before, but this had every indication of MASSIVE food poisoning.  Luckily I have heard about no-one else who got sick.  I was the lucky one.  Seems Cairo got one last shot in before I go.

But with the whole event, my general dismay about it and reticence about going, this just seemed to add injury to insult.


  1. Oh god i hope it wasn’t something you at my place! *eek* :( (

    Hope you feel better soon!!

    Comment by Typ0 — June 2, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

  2. Don’t worry, darlin’. Happened WAY too long after your party to have been caused by anything at your place! :)

    Nope, blame it on Tabasco buffet food! Ugly but true.

    Comment by Kaddee — June 3, 2009 @ 7:39 am

  3. Twenty years ago I threw up on Huntington Avenue in Boston after a post work party.

    Comment by David — June 6, 2009 @ 11:51 am

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