Wednesday, September 1, 2010

You's a Sexy Bitch


Ignore the picture for now. It is beyond my technological capabilities to put it where I want to.

Tonight was best summed up by Richie's initial observation after getting off the bus: "Hmmm, I expected more campfires and less Christmas lights."

We had just had an hour and a half ride out to the Bedouin Night Sohour, which had been advertised as an authentic look at the Bedouin culture. For those of you who aren't familiar with Bedouins, look them up on Wikipedia. Basically, they're desert folk. The fliers at school promised a real Bedouin meal, dancing horses, and even a chance to ride a horse or a camel. Of course, I had no plans to ride any camels tonight.

Fear of camels aside, I was pumped and ready to get my desert on tonight. I was a little surprised when we pulled off the highway across from what appeared to be the Egyptian version of a night club. And when we got off the bus, there was a dazzling display of Xmas lights with what sounded like nineties arabic pop blaring in the back ground. But what appeared to be a tacky tourist trap on the outside turned out to be a wild, no-rules, prostitute-dancing, David Guetta-loving haven on the inside. There were two women dancing on the stage, which immediately strikes you because no where else in Egypt have women sought attention like that. Then a local came up and told us that they were prostitutes, and that was "the best way to try Egyptian women." Having had some harrowing taxi rides due to local advice in the past few days, we decided there was little credibility in what Egyptians say and passed on the opportunity.

We hadn't been there ten minutes before "Sexy Bitch" came on, and then I knew I was in the right place. Who knew the Bedouins, a culture famous for their nomadic, centuries old life style, shared the same sense of music as American teenage girls (and me)? But then came the crowd pleaser. A real live lion! I use the term "live" loosely, as this poor creature had no teeth, no claws, and was pretty obviously heavily drugged. In the end it amounted to little more than a sack of bones with a lions face on it. Still worked for pictures though and you could get one in any pose you wanted for 35 pounds, or seven dollars. Heck of a deal.

Attempting to even further soak in the culture, we played AU quad enthusiasts and indulged in some shisha. We had to wait for the second bus to get there before we could eat the meal. And apparently that was the same measure being used to prepare the chicken, because as soon as the bus got there, the chicken was on our plates, clearly undercooked. I thought, well, I spent a summer in DC cooking chicken that wasn't much better done than this, I think my systems ready for this, inshallah (Allah willing). Had I been right, I wouldn't be up at three in the morning typing this.

Then came the dance show, and some actual Bedouin music. The most impressive, I thought, were the nimble stilts guys. They were all over the place. Some of the other dancers with sticks looked about as enthused as the lion. The twirly dancers, which isn't the technical name, but I forget it, were supposed to be the headliners, but people in the know tell me these twirly dancers were subpar. They're main grab factor is I suppose the length of time they twirl. I guess it's an acquired taste, like that for raw chicken. When two men came out dressed as a horse, I was pretty outraged. I was promised a dancing horse, and this farce had gone on long enough and I wasn't going to stand for it. Luckily, while looking up "farce" in my Arabic Dictionary, a real horse came out and started to dance. He actually danced much like I do, shuffling his feet with no upper body movement. Whatever works.

Lest you think I'm just a tough customer who can't be impressed, here's a feel-good story. Two nights ago we went down to the famous Egyptian market, Khan el-Khalili. It was awesome. The streets were more like alley ways, way too small for cars with little shops everywhere, and people coming up and trying to sell you everything. We wandered it for about two hours, and had the feeling that right there, right then was as Egypt as it gets. Also, we happened upon a kind of outdoor lounge, only to find some youths playing the World's Game, FIFA. I was tempted to throw down some pounds and challenge 'em to a game, but it was on Play Station. I can cross cultural boundaries, but not console boundaries. On the way back, in order to catch a cab, Richie decided it best to walk upstream through traffic, in traffic. That's all well and good for him, who apparently holds life cheaply, but I have a fruitful career as an Arabic translator ahead of me so I watched from the sidewalk.

The picture at the top is courtesy of Richard Roy's photo-journal of impoverished cats and kittens. Sorry, link only works for those exclusive few who are FBF's with Richie, but if you've seen one impoverished cat or kitten you've seen them all.

SPECIAL UPDATE: Richie's photos, some of which feature me, most of which feature cats, are now available to ALL! http://picasaweb.google.com/116614619782866536067?authkey=Gv1sRgCKuB4MDp2e7-uwE


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