Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sandstorms and Football Fans

Well, this blog has has to be quick, because I should be in bed right now, taking some beauty sleep before, insha'allah, I fly out to Jordan tomorrow, but a few thoughts have been bouncing around this big, hollow head of mine in desirance of transcribation (don't you just love how I make up words?) I can't believe, in the last blog, that I failed to mention the giant sandstorm we had a week ago! I arrived at school around 9:30, with my chronic 5 minutes' tardiness making it more like 9:35, and the weather was blustery but clear; however, by the time I emerged under the influence of an hour of Al-Jezira news after class, the hallway air hung in a musty haze of dust and dirt. Stepping outside, the winde buffeted my skirt (one of my new ones from Thailand, very cute, btw ;-) and grabbed at my hair and clotted my eyes with sand from the screeching strom whipping through the city. I raced to the cafeteria for my morning Diet Coke and hurried back into the paltry shelter of the main hallway, listening to my friends complain of the sand and dryness of their eyes. Every time I inhaled, the slightly metallic and cardboardy taste of sand coated my throat and clogged my nostrils, aggrevating my breath and eyesight greiviously. During the two hour break between classes, rather than sit in the typical sunshine of the courtyard, Deya and I huddled in the hallway and moaned over the fugacity of Egyptian weather. Ok, so maybe we didn't use that word, but we complained none the less as our hair and skin and orifices begrudingly filled with sand; at some points, the sand whirled so tempestuously across the courtyard that it was difficult to see across the courtyard, almost impossible to see across Medan Tahrir upon which AUC is located, and absolutely without possibility to gaze across the Nile from the mainland to Zamalek. It pretty much sucked.
At times, I would glance out the window and watch the whorls of wind whip the detrius on the streets and blanket the air with a hardly pellucid veil of brown grit that attracted itself to every available surface. Within a few hours, sand coated the stairs and banisters of the AUC hallway, and when I got home, I was met with a drift, truly, a drift, of sand on the balcony, as well as a pleasant dusting in my room, and, unfortunately, on this computer that had been left impetuously open. As all whirling vortexes of sand do, this storm did eventually blow over by evening, and we could again venture outside without having to clutch at our skirts and cough with congestion, although I was sneezing up dirt for several days afterward (I know, I know, too much info).
Weather is much on my mind these days, as summer has finally decided expose its sultry furnace to our gentil river valley, with highs shooting up to about 90 during the day with intense sunlight beating upon my brow disdainfully. Yesterday, Monday, was International Day at AUC, an excuse to end classes at 11 and provide Frannie and I ample time to hit the Nile Hilton gym and repose in the glorious pool that I had regret not having used more. In the coming weeks, I foresee myself utilizing the cool waters and outdoor patio quite often after a sweaty day of classes and non-cooled hallways. You see, every classroom is equipped with air con, but there is always someone, usually European (sorry guys) who cannot bear the air con and flips off the switch while the rest of us, or at least me, suffer. Let the a/c wars commence! Although Frannie and I walk in the morning, when there is a modicum of coolness in the air, we stride along the road at a brisk pace and usually wind up a school with a light patina of sweat to dry off before classes begin.
Speaking of our morning walks, we usually walk past, or are passed by, a group of young Egyptian men jogging along the Zamalek corniche in the opposite direction. We suspect that they are the Egyptian soccer team, Ahly, whose headquarters are here in Zamalek and who are supported fervantly my any person who considers himself or herself an Egyptian. Tonight, for whatever reason, Zamalek played Barcelona in a exhibition match at the Cairo Stadium; permit me to let you in on a little secret: Ahly is not a very good soccer team. Yes, they did win the African World Cup last year, but they have yet to even qualify for the World Cup, although, given the conviction of there rather rabid fans, they are the greatest team on earth. There is something poignant, or at least endearing, about the pride Egyptians harbour toward their team, channeling much of their frustrated energies into support for it, but, like most other things Egyptian, the effort falls far short of the goal-democracy, women's rights, constitutional ammendments, football teams.
As you can perhaps imagine, all of Cairo shut down for the match around 2, although the match was not until 9:30, and the cab ride into Zamalek was interminable, to the point where we finally abandoned the cab and walked most of the way home. Of course, before the match begins, everyone must take a nap, and thus congest the streets unduly in early afternoon. Also, the Barcelona team is shacking up at the Marriott on Zamalek, causing closure of many streets near there, so not only was there excessive traffic but also diminished road capacity, creating greater consternation for those motorists just wanting to retire for a few hours before the match. Unfortunately, convalesence was not in my future, because the incessant pounding, drilling, and otherwise excessively aggrevating construction echoed unabated through the apartment all afternoon, finally ceasing around 5:30, when I had to get up and go to the spa for a pedicure and wax. All I can say is that I am developing a high tolerance for pain, although that's hardly comforting when I am prone on the bed and the wax woman is tearing off my hair with, I swear, barely concealed glee (not really, but it made me feel better to be angry at someone during the process). After a stop at the bakery for a bite of ice cream on the way home, I joined a bunch of my friends at the Italian Club in the Italian Embassy for some excellent wine, good company, and fruitless cheering, as Ahly, morosely, lost 4-0. Oh, well, better luck next time, Ahly.

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