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Purely Egyptian Moments: The Officer, the Flower Man and I ألحاظ مصرية محضة: الضابط وصاحب الورد وأنا

A couple of times a week as the sunsets and the call to the maghrib prayer softly resonates over Cairo, I am drawn to a nearby flower kiosk across from the Bulgarian ambassador’s residence. There, I sit on a dust covered crate of empty Coca-cola bottles amongst gaudy flower arrangements and discarded sunflower seed shells under haze of cheap cigarette smoke.

It is tea time in this sliver of Cairo. Taking a break from his twenty-four hour shift at the flower shop, Abd el-Allem fires up the butane and sets the kettle of water to boil while Abu Hussam – also in the midst of a twenty-four hour shift – wanders over from his guard shack across the street. Sharing the same work schedule of twenty-four hours on and forty-eight hours off, Abd el-Allem and Abu Hussam have shared tea every third night for longer than I have walked the face of the earth. Six months ago, however, in a queer twist of Egyptian hospitality, their duo became a trio. Keep Reading

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“Purely Egyptian Moments”: The Morning Commute لحظات مصرية محضة: الرحلة اليومية الصبحية

After nearly a month-long hiatus, it’s back to the blogosphere…

Despite minor cultural and linguistic differences, daily life in Cairo has become routine – albeit lacking in sleep – over the past month and devoted to fighting a losing battle against the accumulating articles in my GoogleReader, the acquisition of Arabic vocabulary – specifically learning eight different words for fear and five different verbs for “submitting to” – and releasing my frustrations on the dough of my latest baking experiment.

The being said, I have discovered – after some reflection – that however ordinary and routine daily life has become as an Arabic-obsessed, sleep-deprived, ex-patriot news junkie living in Egypt, it is now without its moments of pure Egyptian brilliance. As a result (and in an effort to make sure the blog is not neglect for another month), you are cordially yet coercively invited on a journey of my daily “purely Egyptian moments”. Keep Reading