9 February, 2007 § Leave a Comment
Well, you’ll notice I deleted my Winter Break post, as it doesn’t really fit the theme of “Cairo,” and I have not-so-humble designs on rendering my adventure in a glossy coffee table book–and I assume the publishing interest will be staggering.
Anyway, I’m not sure if anyone still reads this (I’m looking at you, Mom and Dad…), but I thought if for nothing other than my own records (remember, I am the kind of person with a file of “life lists,” which may or may not include a list of rivers I’ve visited, coded by the type of activity in which I participated at each river). My own records are plentiful.
I’m starting to think I’m bi-polar. And by “bi-polar,” I mean “moody,” and by “moody,” I mean “I have moods that change based on the situations around me.” My week of school (the first of the semester) was a downer, mostly, and primarily due to severely decreased social interaction. Last night turned it around, and once again I love everything and everyone on the planet and in Egypt. Details below.
We got in to Cairo late and Jeremy and I hailed a cab to Zamalek. I got out and he continued to Tahrir Square to secure a hostel for the night before beginning his apartment search in the morning. When I arrived, my roommate–a stranger at this point, as AUC makes no attempt to connect roommates with each other before their arrival–was asleep. I tried to be as unintrusive as possible while still managing to spread all of my belongings in an even layer on the floor. I think I succeeded in the latter. I didn’t get to use my computer or anything, as it was locked in the wardrobe, and the key to the lock was with my ex-roommate (how sad!) down in Maadi. Amber, if anyone recalls, spent the break in Maadi on a dig, as she is an aspiring Egyptologist, and she left just a couple days after I returned to Cairo.
That same morning I had my first class. I woke up a few hours after returning and headed into campus. My only class was Arabic from 12 to 2. Things didn’t go so well, as I went to the room where my schedule said it was to take place, and there was no evidence of a class. I waited until the time for it to begin, but no one came. Usually room changes are indicated by a sign posted on the door, giving the new room, but no such sign existed. I accepted that I was going to be late to the first class (the thing I avoid in my life with the most ferocity) and went to the library to check the room. Of course, it had changed–guess I missed the memo. So I went off to find “Main Campus LAB II.” One would think that a room would have some indication of, say, where it is…it took fifteen minutes to find Lab II, which is on the third floor (naturally…). Class was good, though.
Right after class was out I headed down to Maadi for my first Latin tutoring session. I managed to get myself to the Stewarts’ house and had a lovely session with the Stewart girls. Mrs. Stewart was nice enough to drive me to the Metro station from where I walked to Amber’s hotel and recovered her keyring of keys to unlock my wardrobe. After a tearful reunion and some sitting around, I headed back to Zamalek, unlocked my wardrobe, and finally met my roommate.
My roommate is Aleema, and she goes to Brown. She is a great girl and I think we’ll be friends. I also met her best friend at AUC (remember all the new students came two weeks early like I did, so they already know each other), Jessica, who is from Winston-Salem and goes to UNC Chapel Hill. They were kind enough to invite me to dinner with them, which we did with their friend Alex. I was very appreciative of the invitation, as I don’t know anyone in Egypt really anymore.
The next day I had a 9:30 class: “Art and Architecture in the City of Cairo.” It promises to be a fantastic class, with six field trips during the semester to areas of interest in Cairo. Then I had Arabic, which continued to be good, and then I ran into Jeremy and we ate lunch. He came back to Zamalek with me to recover his suitcase that he had stored in my room to take it to his newfound apartment, and after an hour or so Jeremy and I reconvened for the class we have together, Islamic Law, at 4:30. Islamic Law is with the same professor I had last semester for Studies in the Qur’an, so I know what to expect. Eric, a Harvard-graduated Fulbright grantee I had in two classes last semester, is in the course, so I was pleased with that. It promises to be as interesting (and as nebulous, perhaps) as Studies in the Qur’an.
After class, I met Amber and we went shopping for her last-minute souvenirs at the Marriott, then we went back to Zamalek together for her to get her keyring and the huge backpack I borrowed for my trip. We made plans to see each other the next day, postponing the eventuality of separation.
The next day I didn’t have class, so I slept until I felt like it, met Jeremy on campus, and we both went down to Maadi for lunch at Lucille’s. After lunch, we went to Amber’s hotel, where I made out like a bandit with all the items she couldn’t fit in her suitcases. A painful good-bye, and I resigned myself to visiting her in Australia. Best roommate ever.
I headed back to the dorm to do homework, and it was miserable, as that was all I did all evening.
On Wednesday, I had Art & Arch again, and Dr. Karim delivered a fascinating lecture on the history of the Coptic Church in Cairo. Now, I’ve studied the Coptic Church, and she covered the origin of Christianity in Egypt and the reason for splitting from the Greek Orthodox/Catholic churches extremely eloquently. Then she took us to the Rare Books Library, where all the texts we will use are on reserve.
Arabic class was good again, establishing a pattern, and after class Jeremy and I got lunch again. Then I had Islamic Institution with Dr. Hanna, whom I had last semester–I loved her. I know several people in the class, but it’s almost all master’s students (basically every grad student I know is in the course), so it will be great. I spent the evening doing Arabic homework, feeling sorry for myself that I lost all my friends to the United States.
Yesterday I had only Arabic class from 12 to 2, so I slept late and after class I went home and took a nap. Just when I was thinking that I’d spend my first weekend holed up in my room, Aleema and Jessica invited me out to a club.
The club was, and can only be described as, purgatorial. Countless people were smashed into a small space, sold overpriced drinks, and presented with terrible music to which they were expected to “dance,” which seems to be some kind of ritualized mating procedure. It, needless to say…wasn’t my style. I hope Aleema and Jessica understand that while I appreciated the invitation and felt honored to be included, “clubs” are not something that I can handle.
After I got home from the club (Aleema and Jessica were still there–I jumped at the opportunity to walk back to the dorm with someone new I had met named Chris), a friend from last semester whom I never actually hung out with (who goes to Reed, incidentally), named Matteson, called. It was 2, but that didn’t seem relevant to her insisting that she and her two Egyptian friends coem pick me up. I acquiesced, and was later extremely glad I did, because our trip with Amr and Kamel to smoke shisha at a cafe was easily the best time I’ve had in Cairo since my return. I hope to see these people again–Matteson actually seems like someone I will be good friends with (I hope).
This morning Aleema and I woke up at 1 and ambled over to Euro Deli for lunch, and now we’re contemplating naps before setting in on homework and/or going out again tonight.