Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We decided to head down to the gym and sports complex last night - the campus' current bright and shining star - and ended up playing a pick-up game of basketball with one other American guy against a bunch of Egyptian guys. The moral of that game was that Egyptians take pick-up games of anything very, very seriously. There were cuts, burns, scratches, and lots of yelling. I think they're so competitive because the only thing that they get first place in is highest pollution producing country in the world. 

After assessing our battle wounds and showering, we tagged along with a group of the RA's on campus to a hookah cafè in downtown Cairo an hour or so away. It was my first real experience with the chaos that is driving on the highway in Egypt. The only rules are that you try not to hit anyone and that the driver has his or her seat belt on at the occasional police check-points. Blasting music and speeding down the highway past giant billboards, Ramadan holiday lights, and decorated mosque minarets with the windows down was a fun rollercoaster through the city. You can't truly comprehend those pictures from space that show the amount of light coming from major cities around the world until you're in one of those cities that never does sleep, like Cairo. Being around the table of twenty-something-year-old Arabs, most of them guys, bantering and joking about things I only half understood was amusing. We all ordered mint, cherry, and apple shisha (or hookah) around the table. Arabs say "senashrab shisha", literally meaning "we'll drink shisha", which I think is beautiful. Not smoking, but "drinking" it. I'm still rusty at it for a beginner, but I'll get plenty of practice in while I'm here. I had some cinnamon-honey coffee to accompany the mint shisha. The loud conversations at our table and the open windows around us seemed ironically peaceful, as waiters would dotingly come around to refill the coals in our shisha, asking us "Ai shey, ya pasha?", or "anything else, my lord?" Even though the youth in this region listen to Akon and wear designer brand names, they still hang out at hookah cafès and uphold all these traditions. We got back to campus in the wee hours of the morning, some of us contemplating the possibility of just staying up until sunrise. But the serenity of the dark campus led us back to our beds instead. 

As far as cuisine goes, I've been constantly eating this little nutella-filled croissant snack food that are popular here, as well as zataar and lebna manoush (a wrap of olive oil, yogurt, cheese, cucumber, and olives rolled into a baked dough).

I unfortunately forgot my camera USB at home, so I can't upload pictures as of yet. But I'm sure I'll eventually get my hands on it in order to post some.

1 comment:

  1. Hey that was pretty much my day, too! Minus the being in Egypt, basketball, hookah, and forgetting a USB.. but the driving through craziness.. yeah. Classes started today so all the kiddies are out driving about in Brookings. Quite obnoxious. By the way, you should publish your blog as a book; you're a fantastic writer.