Being Orientated Part II

Things have been going really great.  The sessions we've had during orientation are actually really interesting especially one today about gender issues in Egypt.  I have yet to find a kid in my program I dislike.  We met our assigned language partners, and I think they could give me a really great opportunity to get ahead in my speaking.  I am slowly getting acquainted with the new neighborhood.  Today during lunch I found a really nice greenhouse (I LOVE PLANTS) run by a little person with a hump on his back near my school, so that was very exciting.  I am feeling much better, and plan on attending a Nubian wedding tonight.  But first A NAP!

Word of the Day

fekka - change (money) 


Word of the Day

hadd - someone


Being Orientated

Frazzled and out of it, but good.  My peers seem great.  The apartment is huge and lovely.  The program looks awesome, but more than I am used to dealing with in my Egyptian state of mind.  While I am feeling much better, my sickness still persists, and so does general mental blerg-ness.  While laying low right now is probably the best choice for my physical health, I think I need to get out of this bubble for my mental health as soon as possible.  We did go out as a group to a fantastically cheesy pharaonic Nile dinner cruse.  Sometimes it's fun to be forced to do the things you would never elect to do.  The laundry machine is currently holding my clothes hostage for cycles and cycle,s so I hope they aren't ruined by the time I get the situation sorted.  I need to go to bed.  Hopefully more coherent blogs will follow.

Word of the Day

eH keelee - tell me


Photo of the Week

Today my good friend Tristan is heading back to the UK.  I'm gonna miss ya, man!  This photo was from our mosque day last week (more photos may follow). He was obviously overjoyed to have his photo taken, but honestly he gives me that face a lot.  I hope you have a safe trip, and I wish I could see you off!

Word of the Day

mokhlel - pickles (higher class)
torrshee - pickles (popular)



I am afraid I haven't been providing you with much information on my current situation.  I am in the process of moving into my new apartment with a gnarly cold, so everything is a little bit harder than it should be.  I will provide you with a real update soon.

Word of the Day

bayt - house/home


TV and Film

Before Ramadan is completely gone from our minds I need to tell you about the Ramadan moselselaat (TV serials).  There are many TV shows, drama, comedy, reality, that have special runs during Ramadan.  A new episode is played everyday, and it wraps up at Eid.  I think I've seen them playing in every Egyptian home I've been to during Ramadan.  Fun Fact: in some shows, when a foreign language is supposed to be spoken, replaces the language with Modern Standard Arabic (Egyptian is used normally), so they don't have to put translations on the screen.  The most memorable show was "Ramiz the Desert Fox."  This show was utterly repulsing.  It is a prank show gone terribly wrong.  Ramiz pranks famous people, but it's the same elaborate twisted prank every night.  Last year, he trapped is famous friends in an elevator and had the door open and get stuck facing a live full grown tiger.  That's nothing compared to this year.  Ramiz puts his friends on a bus in the desert filled with actors (complete with ditzy blond foreigner to sit next to and distract the famous person), and then Ramiz attacks the moving bus with a band of terrorists with covered faces and huge guns.  I don't know what's worse, watching innocent people literally be terrorized, or watching my friends laugh hysterically as it happens!  Some Egyptians cite a cultural difference in humor, but this show is nothing like the Egyptian humor I have experienced (sarcastic, self-depredating, slapstick).  Others say that since the revolution Egyptians have to push the envelope more to find things to laugh at.  Maybe that makes sense, but seriously?  They put a black bag on the famous people's heads, drag them from the bus, and then fire their guns while the actors scream.  Does your current political situation really make it funny to make someone think there their travel companions were just executed?  I have met plenty of Egyptians who agree the show is terrible and immoral... but they never turned off the show.

As I said before I spent Eid with Hagar.  Hagar had to work, so she went to bed early the second night. I went out to a movie with her sister, niece, and in-laws.  I am always amazing at how things just come to you here if you adopt the Egyptian mentality.  I'm sure good stuff you want just happens everywhere, but here I appreciate it more.  In the US you work your butt off to get the things you want, but here in Egypt, insha'allah, the things you want might (or might not) happen.  I am just so pleasantly surprised when the things I want happen, and otherwise I'm not worrying about it.  When I lived here before, I desperately wanted to go an Egyptian movie in theaters.  It never happened, but just last weekend I was randomly taken to a movie without even asking.  Yay.  I saw "Ba Ba" (Daddy).  It was a romantic comedy about a doctor who works in a fertility clinic, his journey with his wife, trying for a kid, and all that jazz.  For the most part, I could follow the movie, not because of any Arabic ability, but because of the hammy acting.  For some reason, in all of the few Egyptian comedies I have seen, the comedic draw centers around male incompetence.  In the end Hagar's sister and her husband were not impressed with the movie.  I'm not really into romantic comedies, but I enjoyed the experience.  But you know what I didn't enjoy so much?  The large population of one to three-year-olds in the audience.  We went to the movie at one am, for goodness sake!  It’s just cultural differences I guess.

Word of the Day

'ard - land


Word of the Day

talaowz - pollution


Photo of the Week

Taxi ride at dusk in 6 October

Word of the Day

wilahee - I swear



And so Ramadan ends with feasts (feast is the translation of eid), three days of feasts to be exact.  Though I have been trying to embrace what is going on around me, I must say I am quite relieved for Ramadan to be over.  I am excited to have something to do during the day.  I am excited for my friends to be available to hang out, and not dead exhausted all the time.  I'm excited to go out to restaurants, get lentil soup (not a Ramadan food), and be able to eat outside.  Ramadan was a cool experience, but doing it during high summer and without a family... well let's just say I'm not in a rush to do it again.

I am spending my Eid in 6 October with my good friend Hagar (who took me to Beni Suef).  For our last iftar we had traditional eid foods which I would describe as dried fish eggs, slimy smoked fish, and slimy rotten fish.  It was a very pungent meal, but it wasn't bad.  I personally couldn't do more than small amounts of each, but the little I had was enjoyable and an experience at very least.

At 5 am this morning I went with Hagar, her mother, and her uncle to morning prayers at Must mosque in Mutamiaz, 6 October (photo to be posted soon).  I believe it is the second largest mosque in 6 Oh.  It drew quite a crowd.  The sprawling lawn in back was set up to accommodate the Holiday rush of worshipers including mats on the grass and a decider between the men and women.  Prayers always start with a call to prayer played from every minaret, but today a special addition was added to the call.  "God is great," was chanted on repeat for perhaps a solid 30 minutes (maybe more) before the actual prayer started.  Then we prayed (I went through the motions in line with them all swaddled up in cloth to hide my seductive female form), and sat and listened to the sermon before Hagar headed off to work.  I went back to her house to sleep.  Now I'm hoping that some friend in 6 Oh will be free to hang out so I can kill sometime until this evening when I take Hagar out to a long awaited birthday dinner.

If  I can swing it, I hope to spend the second day of Eid with Nana before my host aunt and uncle head back to Saudi Arabia.  But after that I am just so excited to (hopefully) see my friends more often!

Word of the Day

kul sena wenta t"I"yib - "Every year (may) you be well," holiday greeting to male
kul sena wenti t"I"yiba - to female
kul sena wentoo t"I"yibeen - to group



I think obscure philosophical literature could be considered a hipster pursuit.  (But it should be noted that the books I am interested in are actually quite well-known here, only in the US will reading these works further my hipster status.)  I have just completed Beirut Nightmares by Ghada Samman, a Syrian author with ties to Lebanon.  I got this book on my first weekend in Egypt.  I had been looking for an Egyptian author too read, but I couldn't find anything good in translation and ended up with this one.  I was not disappointed.  This 377 page book describes the narrators ten day captivity in her home in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War.  Most of the book is the narrators thoughts as she is trapped inside watching bullets and bombs destroy her home, and slowly consuming her limited water and food supplied.  It was by no means a quick easy read, but there was something fascinating about the thought processes of the main character who was a writer that promoted some kind of revolution, but now faced with actual war is trapped and cannot bring herself to bare arms.  Another key element is her recently deceased lover who preoccupied her thoughts.  The book is organized into over 100 "nightmares" that chronicle them main characters stream of consciousness, her escape attempts and visits to the nearby pet store, her sleeping, and waking nightmares.   Every once in a while a little nightmare chapter will deviate completely from the protagonist and highlight a random individual's situation in Beirut.  I think this book is very well written, and really enjoyed it.

Now, I am picking through stories of The Arabian Nights: Tales from A Thousand and One Nights.  This may have been obvious for everyone else, but I just realized that "thousand and one nights" is referring to the thousand and one stories that Shaharazad told each evening to her husband the king.  She always withheld the ending, certifying that should not be killed until she could finish the story, keeping her alive for a thousand and one nights.  It's interesting how stories about Sindbad and Aladdin have been changed in recent history for modern kids animated films.  The modern movies have a linear clearly outlined plot, and usually star an underdog who rises through the ranks.  Modern understandings of plot, values, and desirable protagonists don't always apply in the old versions of these stories.

To be perfectly honest, I am really only reading Arabian Nights to hold myself over until my next book, Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan, arrives.  This novel follows a Coptic monk in his life and travels in before the advent of Islam.  This book is supposed to be a pretty scathing critique of the Coptic church.  This book won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2009, and seems to be steadily gaining popularity in Egypt.  Though reading is not the most popular pastime here, this book has been suggested to be by several sources, and every bookstore I have visited has been sold out.  My copy should arrive in a week and a half.  I can't wait.  Hopefully, I'll have enough time to read it once my college classes start!

Also, completely unrelated: hipster glasses and messy hipster fros are taking over Egypt.  I not-so-secretly love it.

Word of the Day

Haa3azzil - I will move (i.e. to a new residence)


Word of the Day

il-itneen - Monday or both

Ana Masry

Check out this band Ana Masry.  I couldn't tell you where I first heard of this band.  Maybe perusing the interwebs, or maybe they were suggested to me by an Egyptian or Arab-philic friend?  All I know is that when I read their name on the Sawi Culturewheel schedule of events it rang a bell, and I was determined to go.  I tried to enlist some Egyptian friends to go with me to the concert but between Ramadan festivities, gearing up for Eid (this Sunday!), living far away, and general Egyptian flakiness, it ended up being an excursion of foreigners.  This was fine by me, because it meant a reunion with my two British friends who had been traveling for the last couple weeks.  IT WAS A BLAST.  Surprise! the first song was accompanied by whirling dervishes!

The band is like a chorus of traditional and modern Egyptian-Arab awesomeness.  There was opera, beat-boxing, traditional Arabic music, instrumental solos, and Islamic... chanting? (I don't know what you'd call it, but it was stunning).  The band includes about six vocalists, in addition to a couple of  drummers and a violinist who also sing.  About every other number was a full ensemble number, and then solos in between.  They are all obscenely talented, and their energy is great.  I am determined to see them again live.  It was fantastic.

I would also like to make a shout out to the Sawy Culturewheel.  This is the third concert I've attended there.  This event was held in a different hall than the last two concerts I had attended.  I am happy to say even the smaller performance space was pretty excellent.  Yay arts!


Word of the Day

Shut up to a male:
i'fil bo'ak (- shut your mouth)

Shut up to a female:
i'fil bo'ik


Upper Egypt

Life!  The original plan last weekend was to go to the Sinai with friends, but schedule changes and current events made that seem like not such a good idea.  So instead my good friend Hagar invited me to visit her family in Upper Egypt with her.  Our trip took us to a village near Beni Suef and into Fayoum.  It was a really amazing experience.  The land was beautiful, but the weather was HOT.  True to Egyptian hospitality I was fed to near exploding.  The family kept telling me that this visit was something special, because a lot of Egyptians never see life in Upper Egypt.  It was like walking into National Geographic.  Naturally, the best way to describe this trip is with photos:

Added Bonus: I came home from this voyage with a huge bag of basil.  I had been craving presto, but hadn't been able to find any basil (I also did not know it's name in Arabic).  To my surprise, when we were out grilling corn in the family's farm field at midnight (pictured above) someone picked a hand-full of greens and told me to smell.  BASIL!  They were so excited that I was so excited they gifted it to me :)  I dried some, I made some into pesto (without a food processor, mind you!), and I froze some.  I would not advise the last of those options, but I had more than I knew what to do with!  

I love family adventures in Egypt!  I think the best way to gain understanding of a culture is to view it from inside a family.  I am so honored to have so many great families welcome me into their homes.

Word of the Day

yi3zif - to play (a musical instrument)


Drinks You Should Know

Shay koshary- loose leaf tea.  All day every day.  Served "zeeada" (so much sugar), bil-laban (with milk), or bil na3na3 (with mint)

‘Asaab - Sugar cane drink

Manga 3aseer - Mango Juice

Tamer Hindy* - Brown, made from Tamer Hindies

Qamer il-deen* - Thick sweet apricot drink made from dried apricot.  Why you would dry a fruit and then make a liquid from it, I have no idea, but it sure tastes good!

Soobia* - A sweet white drink, made from milk and coconut I believe.  It's kind of like drinking ice cream.

3er Esous* - A brown-gray drink.  I think it’s made from licorice.  It tastes like dirt.

*Ramadan specialties

Egypt does not only have cafes everywhere that serve cheap tea.  Egypt also offers and endless supply of juice bars!  You pay for your drink at a little podium out front.  Then the man gives you a colored token which you deliver to the bar.  Fresh juice is poured into a big pilsner which drink on the street and then return when you're done (you can usually also get it take-away, but that's not as fun).

Word of the Day

shoorab - socks


Word of the Day

yi'az'az - to eat sunflower seeds (bite off the shell)

Sexual Harassment

This should be addressed.  I don't actually have a lot of problems with harassment.  Thanks to my short hair and androgynous style of dress, most Egyptians on the street don't know what to do with me, so they just leave me alone.  I also tend to zone out, so it's very possible I've just missed a lot of whatever is being directed at me.  But this last week my good American gal friend left Egypt after a ten week stay.  We were out in Islamic Cairo doing the Khan, and on our walk back to the metro she had her butt grabbed TWICE by complete strangers walking by in the crowd.  We had discussed cat calls and such before, but never had either of us been groped.  The worst part about this is that my friend was just three days from leaving Cairo without a physical incident.  I was so angry.  I had wanted her to come here, her enjoy herself, leave, and exist as living proof that not everyone is assaulted in Cairo.  I feel like my emotional investment into her avoidance of groping shows a larger problem.  Before she left, my friend said she understood why so many Egyptian women just don't go out here and live "sheltered-lives;" it's self-defense.

When I lived in here in high school, I watched the behaviors of men on the street degrade on the American high school girls with which I studied.  Some became withdrawn, and like some Egyptian women, and didn't want to go out to public places without a protective group.  Some became flustered, frustrated, and jilted to the point of wanting to leave.  I saw what looked like the beginnings of some emotional and psychological damage to a few of the girls.  The stares, and shouts, and grabs wear you down, so do don't only feel less, but you are forced to be less.  It made me mad then, and I am still mad now.  There are so many fantastic things about the culture and the people here in Egypt.  This harassment just doesn't fit into the Egyptian values I've learned.  I am mad, a girl on facebook who wrote this note is mad, and everyone else Egyptians, foreigners, men, and women alike should be mad.

And though this article about coping mechanisms is helpful, it is so sad that it has to exist.

If I wear the wrong shirt or I am watching around gawking like a lost tourist, sometimes I'll be called at, but generally I am only an observer.  So, I want to make a point of speaking to the other observers during the rest of my time here: the other men on the street.  The majority of men on any particular street are not groping you or cat calling you.  It's just the one that ruins your day, the group of shabeb that hang out on the corner, or in the worst cases a guy every block.  But there are so many people not bothering you.  I would assume that the quiet people know that harassing is not the right thing to do.  I also assume they have friend who (even if they know its wrong) ARE cat calling and groping.  How can they watch this happening and not be disgusted?  If there is societal stigma from peers and equals of harassers, harassment will decrease.  The trick is convincing observer men to confront those actively harassing.

It's hard because when a girl brings up harassment to a guy, foreign or Egyptian, the initial response is a.) It can't really be that bad? or b.) so your asking me to defend you?  Yes, for many it can be that bad, and NO.  Women depending on defenders to function in the public sphere worsens the situation.  We need men to know just  how much of a problem harassment is, for all women in Egypt, and make it clear to their fellows that harassment isn't acceptable or cool.  Not just on behalf of the one female friend or sister they are defending, but for the sake of basic human decency.

So this is my task for myself, so convince my guy friends to actively disapprove of harassment.  But I have faced another barrier very often when trying to communicate these issues.  I encourage any comments that help me to deal with this response: "It's an upbringing issue."  In other words, those who harass were not brought up right, or in other words they come from bad areas, or in other words they are poor.  How do you deal with harassment when it is blamed on the socio-economic divide? 


Photo of the Week

Artsy shot of graves in an Upper Egypt Village

Also, please note the updated photos in the sidebar.  I have finally removed all of the original photos, that I stole from the Internet and posted before my first visit here in high schools.  The photos are now organized geographically.  The top photo is me with by bestie Sherif on our North Coast trip.  The next two photos represent Giza and Cairo respectively.  The street view is in Mohandessin on my walk to my language school.  The photo of me in a yellow scarf was taken at the top of the minaret of the Blue Mosque (which isn't really blue) in Islamic Cairo.  You can see the Citadel in the background.  The last photo is from Upper Egypt.  Details of that latest trip to follow.

Word of the Day

ReeHaan - basil



I am not the type to go out of my way to shop.  In fact, I usually avoid it.   Somehow, this past week I ended up shopping four (five if you count a return trip) times at four different prominent shopping malls in the Greater Cairo Area.  It was moderately enjoyable experience, but I probably won’t do it again anytime soon.  From this accidental shopping-fest I gained some cool stuff, good times with cool people, and insight on the most popular shopping areas.  Check it out:

City Stars:  Located in Nasser city, a nice (almost) suburb to East.  City Stars is the hugest, poshest, least Egyptian mall in all of Egypt.  It boasts 700 different brand name stores, food venders, a grocery store, and movie theaters.  It is very clean with an over the top faux old Euro decor.  I went there with my Spanish roommate.  On one floor every other store we passed seemed to be Spanish in origin.  City Stars is where you go when you’re homesick, enjoy people looking down their noses at you, and want to blow even more money than you usually would on American Eagle.  This was my least favorite shopping experience.  BUT I did get some cool socks that look like denim with jean pockets!

Khan el-Khalili:  The tourist trap in Islamic Cairo.  It is the longest continually and currently open street Bazaar.  Ever.  You have to see it at least once, and you must purchase your friends’ travel presents there, but you might as well leave it at that.  It is the opposite experience from City Stars, but equally unpleasant after the initial aw wears off (exactly like City Stars).  It is crowded, dirty, and every product is Egypt themed.  Store clerks shout as you pass, “I have what you’re looking for!” “Let me take your money!” and “I will make you happy forever!”  The only way to avoid being ripped-off is to haggle like your life depends on it.  Usually, it is overrun with foreigners, but during the nights of Ramadan the population is surprisingly native.  It’s always a trip when you go the Khan.  I will undoubtedly I will be forced to go back with friends at some point, at which time I may just have to buy a slinky belly dancing galabeya...

Mall of Arabia (MOA, hee hee): I don’t know if anyone outside of 6 October City cares about the Mall of Arabia, but for us 6 Oh kids this mall has been a long time coming.  I remember seeing all kinds of advertisements for this baby two years ago.  It feels like a mall, sterile and modern.  It’s pretty big and includes a kind of courtyard with a “dancing fountain” and a food court.  MOA will always have a place near and dear to my heart because the food court includes the only Dairy Queen in all of Egypt.  The mall is pricey by Egyptian standards, but I got a cute dress for a good price (I’ll never be able to wear it in Egypt, but whatever).  I admit MOA, Arabia, doesn’t compare to the MOA, America, but it’s doing it’s best, and it’s in 6 October so I like it more than I should.  

Wust el-Balad:  And the award for best shopping experience of the week goes to...  DOWNTOWN!  I personally have perused the area around Talat Harb Square.  It’s central, cheap, lively, and genuinely Egyptian (rather than Ancient Egyptian themed, or desperately foreign).   A lot of the stores sell higabi (veiled woman) versions of H&M-like merchandise.  There is some cute stuff.  There are also a lot of street vendors around with cheap T-shirts, scarves, shoes, and underwear.  I personally would not buy my intimates at a street vendor, but to each his own.  I purchased a lovely map of the world in Arabic, and a spongebobagab (what I call a scarf with spongebob printed on it).  You can also find some terribly translated shirts in English that are always great for a laugh.  The best part about shopping downtown is that there is always an ‘ahwa nearby.  If you’re ever downtown, ask to be directed to Borssa, that’s where the cool kids hang out ;)

Word of the Day

zaman - long ago


This just in from Egypt

~There are an endless number of ways to secure a headscarf.  Most reasonable young women have at least one scarf to match every one of their outfits, if not several to layer. 

~Spongebob is totally hot right now.  If you don’t have spongebob printed on your shirt or on your headscarf, you are totally lame.  Street venders failing to provide Spongebob merchandise will be exiled.  (Angry birds are an acceptable substitute.)

~The Metro is the best place to read our Quran. 

~If you hear someone snorting like a pig, they aren’t just impersonating their favorite farm animal: That’s a heated argument!  Pig snorts are a major insult and fighting words.  But girls don’t do that.

~No matter how hot it is, it can always get hotter.  You may think it’s not  in the sun, but then you get onto the metro, or into someone’s kitchen, or step into a cloud of exhaust.  Oh, summer in the desert, in the city, in the pollution!

~The name Maha means wild cow

Word of the Day

yarHamkoom allah - said when someone sneezes


Word of the Day

yiboos - to kiss


Word of the Day

mooshkella (mooshekil) - problem(s)

Photo of the Week

 An 'ahwa downtown during Ramadan


Word of the Day

Haowa - air


Word of the Day

ghalat - wrong
sahh - correct



From my earlier descriptions of crossing streets I assume you deduced that traversing Egypt is not an easy feat.  I am a slowly mastering each variety of transport.  I feel like an opportunity is opened to me every time I decode a new mode.  
At first just using taxis felt like an accomplishment.  They can be nerve racking if you don’t know where you are going, and sometimes drive around in circles to bump up the fare.  Here are some hints to avoid being ripped off by taxis:
  • Know where you are going, or at very least let me driver think you know where you are going
  • Take white taxis instead of black taxis, unless you know exactly how much your trip should cost.        Black taxis don’t have meters.
  • Make sure your meter is turned on and starting from 2.50 
  • To avoid creepiness, ladies riding alone should always sit in the back of the taxi. 

But to be perfectly honest, fares are so cheap, I don’t feel bad about overpaying a driver now and again.  Taxis and are the easiest and most convenient mode of transport, and can offer some great Arabic practice, but ladies be aware that you may receive marriage proposals.  It’s cute at first, but it gets old.  Never feel bad about telling someone off if they’re bothering you.  Also don’t be startled if your taxi driver takes on another passenger in the front seat while on your route.  It happens.
There are other types of taxi-like things, like tuk-tuks, or little three-wheeled go-carte things.  I’m not sure how payment works or what kind of distances they go, but I plan of figuring that out!  In 6 October they also have pick-up trucks that work as taxis.
It seems silly now, but I was very nervous about taking the Metro, or subway, alone here in Cairo.  Now I have come to realize it is by far the most reliable and safest form of transportation available and only costs one pound.  It is even clean!  It has a couple of segregated women’s cars, which I prefer when traveling alone.  I am so excited for September when I live right on the line.  There are two main problems with the metro: the heat (but the new line is all air conditioned!), and limited stops.  For instance there is no stop in Mohandessin, supposedly they are building one, but I’ll believe that when I see it.
Finally, there are buses, minibuses, and microbuses.  These are all dirty and crowded, but they go everywhere you could ever dream to go for cheap.   From what I can tell minibuses are older slightly smaller buses, and microbuses are more like vans and only have sitting room.  They all follow regular routes, but only some of the buses and minibuses are marked.  The only way to figure out routes is to have someone show you the way.  Luckily, your fellow passengers are usually more than willing to help you locate your stop... and by stop, I mean push you out as the vehicles slows, because there aren’t stops.  I have begun regularly taking the bus from Mohandessin to Heliopolis where my Egyptian grandma lives.  This includes a transfer at Abu M3een El-Reawd station near Tahrir.
The most difficult part about these buses is catching one, and even more challenging is catching the correct one.  Some of the buses have shebeb (young men) hanging out the doors shouting their end destinations incomprehensibly sometimes paired with location-specific hand gestures.  To get on the bus you have to wave it down on those busy Cairo streets, hop on stealthily, and then negotiate with the driver to make sure it’s actually going to your desired destination.  Despite all that excitement, I think these buses are safer than taxis because you’re surrounded by people who will be upset of your driver goes off track.  I find that reassuring.
Wish me luck.  Tomorrow I take a microbus from Mohandessin to 6 October  by myself.  I can’t wait to meet my friends out there.  Most people cringe at the idea of living in a dessert suburb, but I miss my life out there.  There is a sense of community, and plenty of Egyptian life to experience beyond the few infamous gated communities out there.  6 Oh for life!

Word of the Day

kalaa faarigh - empty words, this is nonsense

Fasting Part 2

I have decided that I can do better than just avoiding food and drink in public.  Muslim children are trained to fast as they grow up.  They are eased into it at around age 8, and start by fasting for half the day and working their way up. I have heard several stories of children cheating, like taking sips of water when they wash their faces.  As adults every healthy capable Muslim fasts, everyone is expected fast, and everyone has always fasted, so I asked one of my Egyptian friends what they actually gained from fasting.  Though there are many standard answers I was inspired by how genuinely they believed what they were saying.  Setting a goal and accomplishing it by overcoming earthly needs is a powerful thing.  Discipline and then fulfillment.  Fasting is also thought to make someone a better person because the faster can sympathize with those who actually are starving.  As I said, I was inspired.  I am going to try to ease myself into fasting.  I am now fasting from breakfast on.  I wake up, eat a hardy breakfast, and then khalaws until Iftar.  I have had the honor of being invited to several wonderful Iftars, and the nights I don’t have Iftars I often go out to eat with friends anyway, so it isn’t as though I’m not being fed.  Wish me luck with my next level of fasting.  


Word of the Day

minammila - "anty," used to describe a body part when it falls asleep, because it feels like ants are crawling all over it!