Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Extra Ordinary

Since hating life on Mt. Sinai, my life has been extra ordinary. And not extraaaaaaaaa ooooooordinary in the Nat-King-Cole-singing-the-opening-of LiLo’s-Parent-Trap sense, but instead in the sense that everything that has happened in the last week has happened the whole time I’ve been here. But seeing as to this point I’ve only seen fit to write about the extraordinary, perhaps you’ll take interest in the more common occurrences in Egypt.

I have made a lot of passing references to my eternal struggle with the taxi drivers of this country. But I gather from the questions of the sole commenter of my posts that perhaps I need to make clearer what these battles typically entail. I had a whole paragraph typed up, but to shorten the story, we get in cabs we believe have meters, only to be informed halfway through the trip the meter is broken, and when we get out the negotiations start. There are two schools of thought on how to best handle this situation. There is the Richie Roy “Just Say La” method, which involves shouting La (no) at the taxi driver until he gets more frustrated with the language barrier than we are. Then there is the Patrick Schweighart “Walk Away” method. Pat will throw the money into the seat, and peace. Sometimes the cabbie curses and drives away, other times he gets out and attempts to drag Pat to the police station. Personally, I prefer watching the walk away method.

Memorable cab rides include the ride home from the American Expatriate Club, when ten police officers were needed to broker a deal between me, Ryan and a cab driver who threw the five pounds we gave him into the wind in an expensive show of disgust. Then there was the time when our taxi broke down on the highway halfway to the city. We were chugging along, and then we just kinda coasted to the side of the road. I figured it was a cigarette break, but then he started pouring some liquid into the hood. And then the car didn’t start. I’m not really car guy, and unfortunately neither was the cabbie. He tried a variety of different things, including driving with the hood open and completely obstructing the view, but each time we managed only seven feet before petering back out. Finally he threw his hands up, which we took to be our cue that it was time to get walking. To his credit, he wouldn’t even take a pity-five pounds, restoring my faith in humanity.

To return to the American Expatriate Club, it reminded me very much of a Rick’s. There were all types of strange, creepy Westerners there, presumably trying to escape the harsh realities of Cairo. The drinks are cheap and so is the conversation. I briefly considered opening my own Rick’s, but thus far I have been unable to convince Mitch to address me as Mr. and learn the piano. Play it again, Mitch! Oh the times we would have. But in general the place—and the places like it—isn’t all that fun. The most fun I’ve had there is when I went on an off-night, and watched a Blackburn game with a couple of real live English fans.

Which brings me to my first SPORT REPORT. Watching Blackburn games in the bar was much better than watching them online, during which I am always inundated with offers to get an American green card by completing tasks such as cream pie-ing Uncle Sam in the face or popping the correctly colored balloon (hint: it’s green). Well, Blackburn have been so bad and boring I’ve probably pied enough Uncle Sam’s to bring half of Cairo back to America with me. Thank goodness I have the Buffalo Bills to cheer me up.

I was in the gym a few days ago running twelve miles less than what my mom ran in her half-marathon today when I happened upon the Arab University Women’s Basketball Championship. This is a tournament between all the Middle Eastern universities to promote unity and so on. Being somewhat of a girls basketball connoisseur from my days of watching the East Aurora Girls Varsity team run train on New York State (there apparently is no link to any newspaper covering the state championship). But anyway, these girls can BALL! At least I think they were girls, but it very well may have been Kobe out there wearing a hijab. Maybe they weren’t that good, but they were very impressive for running around as conservatively as they go to the Mosque. I think my chants of “Welcome to the BLOCK PARTY!” weren’t appreciated due to the lack of street blocks in the desert. Or maybe they thought I was being obnoxious. One of the two.

I haven’t played a lot of soccer since being here, but when I’ve played it has been a lot of fun. Every Egyptian plays, and they’re not bad. But let’s just say Team Tevez could beat them 9 out of 10 times. I did get beat as bad as I’ve been though, which may be hard for those of you to believe, who have seen me get some pretty bad beatings. What made this one truly special was the guy who beat me was probably fifty pounds overweight and wearing jeans. They all wear jeans when they play soccer, and at the gym, and probably in the pool, I’ll let you know next time I’m willing to risk extreme bodily burns. So yeah, after that I went home. But not before celebrating Ryan Giggs style after scoring a tap in. Making friends all over the place.

While on the soccer subject, we witnessed a soccer style fight at our favorite Shisha place. We were just sitting there, enjoying our Turkish coffee, when these guys playing dominos jump up and start ninja kicking each other. I don’t know how to play dominos, and I don’t think I’m going to learn. Anyway security slept right through the whole affair but it was all sorted out by pushing the fighters out opposite ends of the alley. That’s the convenience of having a café in an alley way.

My acting career took a huge step last week when our non-English speaking neighbor had me voice over the documentary based on Guns, Germs, and Steel to avoid copy right infringement. The script he handed me to read from was taken right from the movie, minus the conjunctions. But apparently, and this is true, his professor was so impressed with my broken English narrating skills she thought that he hadn’t replaced the original narrator. Which turned out not to be a big deal at all, so he needn’t have gotten me in the first place. I’m glad he did though; I love doing my Crocodile Hunter accent.

And now I have actual work to do? I have to write a five page paper for Romantic Literature about poems I never understood. I hate doing work for things I don’t understand, which is why I dropped my SIS major, my Arabic minor, and now my lit minor. Quite literally the only line I understand in Wordsworth’s Prelude is “My Drift I fear is scarcely obvious”. Which I suppose could be said about this blog post, so I better get back to block quoting away five pages.


  1. I just want to be a cat in a house in East Aurora. the house that generates this business I'm reading about. Sam is my idol, and Ingrid tops the list, except for my dear snow pass scuttling wife, wherever she might be.......

  2. It is rare day indeed when the fabled Tom B drops us a note! You do my son a great honor Tom Cat. I asked that my previous comment here be deleted but hope you caught it was sent down the memory hole.