It’s Good to Be Back…قد رجعت سعيدا
Having yet to pay the electricity, internet or water bills since arriving in Cairo, I nervously returned to my apartment a week and a half ago to discover that not only were all the utilities in fine order but there was enough water pressure to take a four minute shower. The Haram-adan Turkey tour finished up in fine fashion with…
a stop in the former Armenian capital of Ani…
and the extravagant Isha Pasha Palace near Dogubeyazit…
a dip in a crater lake near Van…
a tour of Ataturk’s glory and majesty in Ankara (and then promptly getting quite sick)
and five days of making sure I left my heart in Istanbul.
After returning to Cairo, I immediately made plans to prepare myself for the start of another term of Arabic study (which started today). I planned to get up early and review old vocabulary long forgotten during my attempts to speak Turkish in Turkey. I hoped to catch up on sleep and set a normal sleep schedule and attend various artsy museum exhibits and art galleries. I even hoped to update my blog.
But needless to say that the best load plans of mice and men go oft awry and none of the above came to pass. Instead, flashcards gathered dust on my bureau while I embarked on a Lord of the Rings movie marathon. Ramadan meant that museums and art galleries not only had unusual and not-posted hours of operation but that nobody answered the phone when I called to inquire about these hours (so needless to say I did not attend any exhibits or galleries). And my sleep schedule is a mess thanks to Skype dates with friends and family.
More importantly, after three months of yearning for American food that is nonexistent (or way overpriced in Cairo), I have literally taken matters into my own two hands and started a baking binge. My kitchen table is now covered in a fine layer of flour but I’ve enjoyed some focaccia bread (with pasta for dinner). Although I made the holes in my bagels too big and the result the final product was some rather flat and unusually shaped, it still tastes somewhat like a bagel when toasted and covered in cream cheese tastes. Cinnamon Rolls, however, have been a roaring success and consequently have been disappearing from the freezer at all hours of the day. I made my third batch yesterday and it is already so it looks like I’ll be baking some more this weekend (and maybe attempt an apple pie as well).
In other news, I took the decision to keep my post-Turkey beard and mustache as a sign to return to Vermont hippiness and join a group of Cairo ex-patriots and assorted Egyptians who play Ultimate Frisbee a couple of evenings a week. The field may resemble dirt more than grass but Cairo’s pollution presents a convenient excuse to cover up the fact that I have not run since I arriving in the Middle East three months ago. Perhaps between the Egyptian revolution, Ultimate Frisbee and a baking binge, I will find the balance that was lacking from my life this summer.
Speaking of the revolution Egypt the political situation is beginning to heat up once again. Two months remain before the unplanned but promised November elections (to be carried out without international electoral observers). Meanwhile, to prevent another sit-in not only have Central Security Forces made a loose cordon around the center of Tahrir Square but they have hundreds of reinforcements, armored personnel carriers and fire engines standing by in the side streets. Lastly, Ramadan ended a couple of days ago and with it the break from political protests. Despite the military’s occupation of Tahrir Square, the liberals have scheduled another ‘million man march this Friday to ‘correct the path of the revolution’. (As the the Muslim Brotherhood is not participating, this march will be lucky if it reaches the tens of thousands of people.) The Supreme Council of the Armed Services has responded by stating that it will stop trying civilians under military tribunals once the emergency law
is lifted. (The catch being that Egypt has been under emergency law for since 1967.) Lastly, the never ending saga more commonly known as the Mubarak trial resumed today when the prosecution called its first three witnesses (of more than one thousand) to the stand. (At this rate the defense will get to start calling its one thousand witnesses about a year from now.)
All in all it will be an interesting fall (during which I will likely have to pay some large utility bills).