Sunday, November 28, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
|Ashraf eating a burrito. Second time I've made burritos in Cairo. I miss Mexican food.|
|Michelle, my roommate's stupid cat. The red eye was not caused by the camera.|
|Moe and I. Also, I'm bald now.|
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
This week is Mustafa Kemal, which is funny because I just discovered this website after finishing my week's reading for my history class on the end of the Ottoman Empire and the newly created state of Turkey.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Dove World Outreach statement: "On 9/11/10 we are burning Korans to raise awareness and warn. In a sense it is neither an act of love nor of hate...We are using this act to warn about the teaching and ideology of Islam, which we do hate as it is hateful."
Absolutely astonishing. I went to the Dove World Outreach's website and read their posted Top Ten reasons to Burn a Koran. Number two is my favorite:
Also their burning ceremony, as well as the "Islam is of the Devil" T-shirts made last year for 9/11, are "loving acts."
Back in Cairo, I live with two girls, a Croatian and an Italian. (Tangent: If you come and visit, it's funny to make fun of Croatia in my apartment: Is it really a country? Are you sure? Where is it? Speculate on the literacy rate and other struggles as a developing nation. Technological malfunctions are due to production in Croatia. Character faults are typically Croatian. Offensive food, the national dish of Croatia. Etc.) They both work in Cairo, one for a marketing firm and the other for a refugee NGO, respectively. They also each have a cat. The Croatian, Valentina, has a male cat named Oto, while the Italian, Elisa, has a female cat named Michelle. Both cats retain all of their bells and whistles despite my constant pleadings and informative article forwarding. I've informed both of my roommates that if the cats procreate I will take absolutely no part in caring for their offspring. Unfortunately, this is a false threat--I know I'll be unable to ignore the little shits and feel responsible if they unintentionally starve or drown. My roommates are openly in denial concerning the possibility of kittens, and I suspect Elisa secretly wants them. Here are my newborn feline concerns:
1) Kittens typically turn into cats. I dislike cats.
2) Newborn animals of all flavors require food, water, and attention. Even kittens, according to wikipedia. They cause mischief and they cry. Do kittens instinctively know the only acceptable place to relieve themselves is the litter box? How long does it take them to learn not to use their claws and teeth? Will they survive on the streets if born in a domestic environment?
3) Will my roommates grow attached to them? Will they want to keep them? I don't want to turn into one of those weird cat people. How much time do I have to get rid of them before my roommates refuse to?
In other news, school starts tomorrow.
|The dark part is the "Blue Hole," which is a hole 160 meters deep encircled in reef.|
|Blue Hole Reef|
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
"Mr. Hunter, can we listen to a song or maybe watch a video?"
I replied, "Sure, as long as we can discuss the lyrics afterward. What type of music to you like?"
"Celine Dion!" the females announced, nearly in unison.
"What?...No. Absolutely not, what else?" The girls in my class then began listing reasons why Celine Dion was such a fantastic musician/songwriter. I described to them the Dark Era of the late 90s when that damned Titanic song was used by some government agency conducting a sort of psychological conspiracy against the American Public. I couldn't do it, the notes would bring back too much pain, I explained. They weren't buying it, and I was too weak. We watched the Youtube video of "Because You Loved Me," and worse, sat around talking about why he loved her for ten minutes thereafter.
Anyways, here are some recent photos:
I've named her Lucy. Not to be confused with my Aunt and Uncle's Whippet.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Thrice I have been to Old Cairo thus far, and not once have I seen another foreigner. Last night, I took the metro into Old Cairo with my buddy, Sears, to meet up with a few Egyptian friends. We congregated at a cafe somewhere in the Middle-Of-Nowhere. The cafe, run by an old, extremely friendly Cairene, Nani, was spilling out into the streets after iftar. Tables and chairs were set up on both sides of the streets with men smoking sheesha, playing backgammon, drinking tea, and watching the single television on Nani's patio. Sears and I were set in chairs facing a large group of men watching the television serving the patio of Nani's cafe. Half engaged in lazy conversation, Sears and I were suddenly awoken from our daze by two men on the patio shouting at each other. It escalated quickly. Shouts turned to shoves, two men turned into about twenty, a quiet patio transformed to chaos in a matter of seconds. I sat with my legs crossed, Sears with his hands behind his head, both relaxed. One of us, I don't remember which, commented on how the situation's entertainment value was directly correlated with how physical it became.
This went on for a minute or two before Nani was able to calm everyone down and get back to their seats. No blows were thrown, but I did see an older man slap a kid in the face pretty hard. When relative calm was resumed, I asked my Egyptian friend, Mohay, what in Allah's name the problem was. This is what I learned:
During Ramadan, a bunch of new television shows are released which people refer to as, "series." Each series airs a new episode daily for the entire month of fasting, usually right after iftar while people are getting ready for the day (night). From what I can tell, the series are extremely popular among younger generations--it's sort of like an entire season of Friends or Sex and the City airing within a month's time. So this particular night, a patio full of men were watching the next series episode of a Cairene, Friends, when someone grabbed the remote and changed the station to an Egyptian football game (soccer). One guy on the patio became really angry, really quickly, speaking out against his offender.
While Mohay was telling me this I began to consider, as are those of you still reading this, the boldness of the man who would openly express his fury in this situation. If you're at a bar in the states and Dude A is watching Friends, and Dude B grabs the remote to put on Monday Night Football, Dude A says nothing. If he does, Dudes B, C, D, etc., pretty much gain the right to ridicule, if not physically overcome Dude A under full protection of the law. I didn't really say much, because I thought there might some sort of cultural misunderstanding. However, Mohay said the guy wanting to watch the series was outnumbered by every other guy on the patio. (I guess he deserves respect for boldness). He then told me that, in Egypt, wanting to watch a series over a game is for Khowels (see Cairo, Day 2).
Saturday, August 7, 2010
At this point, my interpretation of the situation at hand was that, if we survived the bus ride, we were going to hike up Mt. Sinai from the monastery, through the wee hours of the morning, and watch the sunrise from the very place Moses and the Lord hung out 6000 years ago. Yeah, I know, it sounds awesome.
Upon arriving at the St. Catherine's parking lot, I couldn't help but notice an abundance of buses and 1500 people standing around in small groups, taking instructions from any of the hundreds of Bedouin men also in the parking lot. We exit the bus, and are approached by a man named Mohammed, who introduced himself as our guide. He told us our group's name in Arabic, "Habibbi," in case we were separated--evidently staking his claim of white people for the night.
It's 1:30am, and I'm annoyed. I do not enjoy following man-made dirt paths up desert mountains. More so, I do not like being led up a dirt path by a small man that keeps shouting directives at me and grabbing my arm to make sure I don't get too far ahead of the group. And finally, I detest walking up dirt paths in a line of 1500 people as if following Pied Piper. Mohammed would make the group take breaks at 10 minutes intervals atop every other switchback where inevitably there were STORES selling Coca-cola products and bags of Fritos. Also, literally every 20 yards on the moon-lit path for the first half of the hike there were Bedouin men sitting with their camels trying to sell you a ride to the top. I refused upwards of 50 Camel rides last night. The price was negotiable, starting at 85le (approximately $15). I assumed the prices had risen since Moses' day.
Finally, I had enough. Ignoring Mohammed, I left the group, set my own pace, and reached the summit of the revered peak around 3:45am. Once there, I found a spot away from the well-lit cafe, and pretended I didn't hear any of the 50 men loudly advertising their mattresses and blankets for rent. I fell asleep briefly, only to be awoken by 1500 people arriving to claim their spots for the sunrise, talking loudly, taking photographs in the dark, and generally giving it their best to piss me off.
Whatever. The sun rose. It was bastardized by a crowd of tourists posing like idiots aside brown men and small ceramic effigies of pyramids. The pyramids have nothing to do with Moses and Mt. Sinai and are located hundreds of miles away on the mainland of Egypt but, hell, it's all in the same country and they're just trying to make a few bucks.
Oh yeah, at St. Catherine's monastery, you can go in and pay to see the actual burning bush that God used to speak to Moses. Naturally, it's still alive. Also, many Christian academics believe the biblical Mt. Sinai to be northeast of St. Catherine's, closer to Jordan. FML.
Aside from that, Dahab was fun. Hung out and went snorkeling in the Red Sea.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Forecast for this next week:
Tues - 104
Wed - 103
Thurs - 104
Fri - 105
Sat - 104
Sun - 103
Rahimahullah (May Allah have mercy upon him)
Pictures around Cairo.
Friday, July 30, 2010
I have had a pretty positive experience in Cairo looking back on my first week. Here are some highlights:
-Thus far, the majority of the cab rides I have taken have instilled in me a healthy fear of driving in this country. I’d feel safer free-soloing Maiden Voyage in the Black Canyon than taking a taxi on the Corniche (river road along the Nile) downtown during rush hour. Like the states, there are lines in the road designating lanes; however, unlike the states, the lines serve absolutely no purpose. From the airport our cab driver was literally driving aside five cars on a three-lane highway as I thought for the first time in a year of climbing ice, rock and skiing powder, “I really wish I had health insurance.” Were there enough space between our car and the one adjacent us, I could have stuck my torso out of the window and tuned our neighbor’s radio.
-This past week, I thought I had been witnessing an odd Egyptian custom when men would chuckle immediately after being introduced to me. Yesterday I learned how wrong I was during my first Arabic lesson with my friend Mohay. Mohay had me introduce myself and conduct a very simple conversation with an older man sitting at a table next to us in a run-down café in Old Cairo. As usual, the man began to laugh after hearing my name, as did Mohay. I asked him why. In Arabic, “Hunter” is the name of a historical Arab hero who, from the description Mohay gave me, resembles Hercules. One can now say “Hunter” to refer to a “very strong, hard, confident man,” according to Mohay. Naturally, I found that awesome and wondered where the humor set in. Mohay then informed me “Hunter” has also become slang to refer to a man’s penis.
-I joined the Cairo Ultimate Frisbee club and now plan on playing ultimate one to two times per week. I don't particularly care for ultimate, but it's a good way to meet people.
-Mohay told me there is a big futbol tournament in the streets during Ramadan, which is fast approaching. He said I could join his team. Five vs. five in the streets of the island in the Nile next to Old Cairo. Could be cool.
PS- It's so F-ing hot here.
The above pictures are of the American University of Cairo, my new school.
The first displays their dedication to using water in an efficient and responsible fashion in this God-forsaken desert. I'm so proud.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I’m cooking burritos tonight for Alan and I. As well as Krista, Valentina and two girls named Chelsea and Erinn.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Off to Cairo! I'll spare the details of the past nine months and suffice it to say I hit a couple speed bumps, but am now well on my way. In fact, I'm writing this from the airport in Paris where I'll be spending the next 7 hours of my life awaiting my flight to Cairo and ignoring Parisians!
Some highlights of my journey thus far:
1) My mom escorted me through security in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and waited with me until I boarded the plane. I suspect her intentions were twofold:
a) Being the wonderful mother she is, she wanted to see off her eldest son prior to his 2-year stint in a foreign country.
b) I'm confident she was expecting to step in and take the hit if we'd run into any trouble at the security gate.
2) I woke up after a short nap somewhere over the Atlantic to notice the flight attendant had just passed my row with our second meal. I patiently waited until she cycled through all of the rows and was back in the prep area before approaching her for my meal. Her word-for-word response was, "you snooze, you lose." I held back about a half-dozen comments that immediately came to mind and turned to walk back to my seat. She stopped me and handed me my food, but not before letting out an irritated sigh.
3) After landing, I discovered the business elite/1st class private lounge below one of the terminals. There is free internet access which I am currently utilizing to write this to you all. There is also free food, free drinks, and free booze (self-serve, including Jim Beam). I know there are a few of you that won't believe me, so I took a photo:
My postulate is that, upon learning of my flight reservation, Paris decided to try and make amends for treating me so poorly the last couple times. I can't be bought. But I will have a drink.