Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My Arabic tutor and other Cairo stories

Well, I'm off to the beach again this weekend, at 12:15 am tonight, but I figured I'd use some of my extra time to scribe some of my thoughts. The vice-president of the AUC kindly informed us all that we have Thursday off on Tuesday, so my roommates and I all had the same thought-road trip! This one is much more lengthy than the Hurghada one; I think the bus ride is 9 hours, but we're going to the Sinai, to Dahab, a city on the coast, so I think it'll be worth it. I'm sure I'll have more pictures and a lengthy blog for you all when I get back!
I suppose that I should probably mention a little bit about the classes I am taking, seeing as they are the primary reason I'm in Egypt. My Fusha tutor is perhaps the most interesting of my professors, mainly because we have a one-on-one conversation for two hours a week, all in Arabic. During the first few classes we exhausted all of the more banal topics, like family, interests, majors, etc., and now we discuss the news. Like at least a quarter of the rest of the men in Egpyt, his name is Ahmed, and he's a little old man who, I think, finds me rather amusing. Everyday, we dicuss what I eat, and, since ice cream is a main staple of my diet, he has gathered that I have a propensity for it. When we first met, we were both rather reserved, but we have since become more comfortable with each other, and now laugh at each other's quirks (trust me, I have many, especially to most Egyptians ;-) For instance, the word for yes in Fusha is naam, but in colloquial it is Aiwa, sounding very similar to the eponymous state. For one, I've been acclimated to responding "Aiwa" to most questions, which is very colloquialish, and I always get corrected my Ahmed for my informality (although I've caught him using it a few times, too!). While we were relating the news, I brought up the Pennsylvania shooting in the Amish community. He's a professor at the AUC, very intelligent and fluent in English, but he had never heard of them! They just seem to be such an integral part of Americana, but then I realized that they certainly don't advertise themselves, and unless you grew up in America, you'd probably never know they existed. Anyway, I was telling him some of the states where they live, and I mentioned Iowa, and he laughed and said the state of yes ;-) Get it? He knows that there is a state named Iowa, but it was pretty funny. Anyway, this is the level of humor I have lowered myself to over here. I'll mention more about my other classes in another blog. They're certainly not going anywhere!
I apparently lost my cell phone on Sunday on the way home from the gym. I'm not sure if it was stolen or if I am simply too imcompentent to keep track of it. Well, either way, I needed a new one, so I went to Radio Shack and bought a very ishta phone. It's sleek and silver, with a color plasma screen and camera inside. Granted, it did cost 850 LE, but it was so worth it. My previous phone was entirely utilitarian and putative; literally, over half of the study abroad students had the exact same phone because it was so cheap (190 LE with the SIM card). It sounds rather materialistic, but I feel more Egyptian now with a cool phone; all of the Egpytians on campus have the funky ringtone/tres chic phones that are still new to the US. I have now moved beyond study abroad to temporary resident ;-)
Zamalek is such a fascinating area to wander around. I can't get lost, because the shore is only a few blocks away, and there are always quirky stores to peer at bemusedly, like Just Jeans or Torn, or some other supposedly hip-sounding name. The problem with wandering anywhere in Cairo is the drip issue. Just about every building has apartments on the upper floors, and all of these have window air conditioners. Thus, no matter where you walk, there is the constant threat of random drops bomobarding you one the head. Ususally, the sidewalk beneath the target area is wet, but not always, so I usually get hit at least once during the day. Just another Cairo story! My roommates are cooking an incredibly succulent-smelling meal in the kitchen, and I think I'm going to go and partake. Then, off to the beach!