Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy V-Day

Alright, it's about two a.m. in Cairo right now, and I should certainly be in bed instead of staring glassily at my computer screen, but, for some reason, sleep is not arriving on its swift wings, so here I am. Happy Valentine's Day, by the way, as I can officially say that now, although one could hardly miss the plethora of roses blooming in stores and the gargatuan, red, hairy teddy bears lining shop windows throughout the city. Has anyone told men that we women just really don't like big hideous stuffed things that take up half of our bedroom?
I walked outside a few days ago, and, for the first time in months, felt the hint of humidity and stifling Cairo summers in the air. Yay! I no longer feel quite so aberrant in short sleeves and light skirts when everyone else is bundled in downy jackets, sweaters, and warm pants. It's been my trademark, though, to walk out of the apartment every morning with wet hair and a tee-shirt when Frances is shivering in three layers. I still maintain that it's Cairo, and that I should take advantage of the 'mild' winters this year before I return to the arctic temperatures of Minnesota. And, speaking of returning, I go back in three and a half months! How is that possible? What have I done with the past six and a half months! I feel like I need more time, because, as integrated as I may feel in Cairo society, I am still a true khawajia, foreigner, and I amjust beginning to meet real Egyptians and truly speak their language. I wish I could just continue learning Arabic, continue the constant repitition and environmental reinforcement that ALI delivers and finally develop some fluency. I want to win this war, and returning home will definitely warrant a retreat, if not all out defeat, because if you don't use a language, it sinks into the recesses of your brain and adheres to the sticky pockets that conceal information from being utilized. But I am looking forward to wearing tank tops again, and, mumkin, seeing my family ;-) But how do you go from the streets of Cairo to the suburbs of Minneapolis, from the beaches of the Red Sea to the shores of Lake Minnetonka? Like I've done everything else, I guess, by adjusting.
Oh, yeah, we have a new roommate, albeit temporary, Jema, who just arrived from Barcelona last night and is searching for an apartment in the area. Although I wasn't worried, persay, about her staying with us, I have quickly come to enjoy her company, and her gifts. She brought me gluten-free food, good food! And ham! Because she is taking courses at the French Institute in Cairo this semester, her classes start later and thus her seemingly retarded arrival is actually quite punctual. Before I go, I'm going to gripe about my reading and writing class, particularly the article we read for it this week, "Building the Arab human" or haga ze kida, something like that, about constructing a Arab consciousness and all of the obstacles obstructing the collective Arab identity. Rather prosaic, if you ask me, but at least media class has been interesting, as we've begun reading opinion articles as well as straight-up news. As of late we've been concentrating on the restoration/destruction of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, depending on whether your support the Palestinians or Jews. Life is fairly tame with the commencement and consuming nature of classes, but there is no place in the world I'd rather be, despite the harassment, despite the curtains of smog, despite constant classification as a foreigner, whether I've been here 2 days or 2 years. To bed, to bed, the sharala comes early in the morrow, and I like to vacate the premises while she cleans.