Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Scent up Mt. Sinai

There’s an old saying that I picked up from ESPN’s Chris Berman; “If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, Muhammad most go to the mountain!” He was, of course, talking about Muhsin Muhammad, future hall of fame wide receiver. But the saying originated with THE Muhammad, who once asked for a mountain but God was afraid should he grant the request, he might end up crushing the Prophet. A reasonable worry! Muhammad should’ve worded his wish better, like can I have a mountain ten feet away from me. It’s all about clarity.

That anecdote was meant to lead into me going to Mt. Sinai, but it got away from me. And with my aversion of the delete key, I’m going to have to start over. Well, Thursday arrived, and we set out on an eight hour bus ride to the Sinai, take two. When I say “we,” I’m not referring to my bros and I, I’m referring to myself and 10 kids I can’t stand, five kids I like, and five I’m ambivalent towards. Open thing I quickly learned was this: I’m proud to be an American (University student), where at least I know I’m not a pretentious prick. It seems if you go to school some place people have heard of you become rather unbearable. To support my hypothesis, the worst offender was a cultured girl from Harvard, who loved to talk about Harvard culture. I just about cried when she turned my retelling of a 30 Rock episode into how the head writer for the show graduated from her school, and is always inserting jokes only she and her kind would get. Naturally, the tears were from jealousy. Then this girl from George Washington sat behind me and kept me awake for the entire ride, telling some sob story of how she wished she could stay together with her state school bf, but with her volunteering at big and important places on Capitol Hill, it just wasn’t going to work. Which reminds me, last week I accidentally had lunch with a Georgetowner, and HE SENT HIS 60 CENT FALAFEL BACK TO THE KITCHEN, citing lack of tahini sauce. I looked at him like dude, that is the equivalent of sending an open bag of M&Ms back to the store because it didn’t have enough yellow ones. My one solace was the cook got a good look at him, so that Hoya can be sure to expect some extra juicy falafels in the future.

But all my troubles left me when we reached our hotel at 4 in the morning. It was beautiful in the night, and even more so in the day. It was also jam packed with drunk Eastern Europeans, for reasons I will never know. One downside was I had to share a bed with “Dave,” but he turned out to be a perfect gentleman so it wasn’t that big of a deal at all. In the morning we hung out on the beach before “Dave,” Big Adam Morsy and I headed out snorkeling. I’m not trying to brag, but the Red Sea is actually one of the best places to snorkel in the world. In fact, on the world-famous “Travel Lady” magazine website, it comes in at #2 for best places in the world! Well, it’s the second one they wrote about. At first I was a little weary, as they gave me emerald green fins and a mask that I was sure would cut the circulation off to my brain. After all, my high school German class did nickname me “Kurbis-kopf”, and it’s hard to deny the allegations. I could see the headlines: “Ireland’s Least Competent Spy Washes onto Saudi Shore, Still Pale.” But I persevered and reveled in the colors under the bright blue sea. Red fish, blue fish, “Dave’s” flipper coming at my face, everywhere I looked there was something interesting to see. After spending two months observing varying shades of brown, the coral and sea life were welcome sights. When we got back to the boat our guide got us some cokes and we just sat there taking it all in. I didn’t bring sunscreen or a shirt because it was supposed to be a two hour cruise, a two hour cruise! The weather started getting rough and the tiny ship was tossed, if not for the complacency of the Egyptian crew the motor wouldn’t have been lost. As it were, our guide was content to let the waves batter us onto the stones and had to spend the next hour fixing the motor, while I spent my time acquiring skin cancer.

When we got back I was utterly exhausted and passed out poolside, but woke up and finished Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. And people (Shelby Krick) complain I spell poorly and have bad grammar. What about Mark Twain, the greatest American writer! Could barely read a sentence without one typo or another, let alone the cussing! It was like I was reading a rap song. Anyways, I became disappointed there was no parallel between Tom, Huck and I, so I floated over to the pool bar and drowned my sorrows in banana milk juice.

At 2 the next morning we reached Mt. Sinai, and began our ascent up the mountain path. It was fairly dark, but I quickly became aware there were camels afoot, as I almost put my own foot directly into one of their many, many camel piles. As a consequence, my gaze was directed groundward for the remainder of the trip. At one point I glanced up to find myself face-to-face with a ghost camel. Gah! I stumbled backwards a few steps, but when I steadied my flashlight I found myself walking next to the George Washington girl! GAH! We snaked our way through the mountains, and I had the impression we were circling the same mountain, Dante’s Inferno style. In the morning, however, I discovered we had just pretty much hiked a straight path and then zig-zagged it up one face of the mountain until we got to the 700 stairs, and the only thing hellish about the trip was the company. Seriously, we were taking breaks every ten minutes for people who had spent too much of their breath/life talking about their own awesomeness.

Around 6, 20 minutes before sunrise, we finally made it to the peak. Naturally there were no spots left to see the sunrise, but the Harvard girl used her considerable girth to wedge herself a spot. That left the rest of us disappointed, as it was her considerable girth that had slowed us down. By the way, I have no fear of her reading this because to do so she would have to be my friend on FB, and if that happened I’d be dead already so what would I care? And if you spoke with her for a minute you’d be using words stronger than “considerable girth.” Luckily I’m a bit taller than most, so I at least got some decent shots of the sunrise. On our descent I saw the burning bush, which is looking remarkably well for being in such a dire situation so many years ago. But by then my thoughts turned homeward; I was out of sight of Ryan, Richie and Mitch for nearly 48 hours. What kind of excitement was I missing in our dorm? Maybe Ryan would wake up before three today? When you begin to yearn for the cave that is my dorm room, you know you need sleep. I also I have an ultra-heightened case of hypochondria since being in Egypt, and needed to get home to Google image various freckles and discolorations. I fear I may have been "incepted" with the idea I'm going to catch something horrible; Leonardo has certainly been in my dreams more than once. Of course, the AUC health center doesn't diagnose cases of inception, so I'd rather not waste my morning waiting in line.

After a nine hour bus ride back (we took an extra hour to look at a hole in the ground) I made my glorious return, to find it was Mitch who provided the excitement by sleeping a full 19 hours. That gave us something to talk about. But then, by a stroke of fate we hear this irresistible melody coming from across campus. I could barely make out the words, but it sounded like the singer was In Miami. I followed the beat and it paid huge dividends, we came across FREE SHAWERMA! Which is like a delicious Arabian taco. I had forgotten a big Lebanese festival had been planned, and was relieved not to have missed it. But my, how dressed up people got for a Lebanese festival. And they all looked so young! We felt slightly out of place. It all made sense, however, when the loud speaker came on. “We’d like to thank everyone for coming out to our first annual High School Model UN Ball!” So we had crashed a high school dance and ate all of their food, repping our white Ts, completely ignorant to how unwanted we were at the event. So I took a few shawerma roadies and made my way to my long awaited bed. Turns out the Lebanese festival was tonight, and filled myself til I couldn’t eat another bite. Then they brought out this dessert that was a mixture of wheat, cottage cheese, and barrels of sugar, so now I think I’m going to go lie down and die somewhere.


  1. Thanks for another great installment of "How To Win Friends and Influence People". ( http://www.dalecarnegie.com/golden_book.jsp?keycode=google06&WT.srch=1&WT.mc_id=G_Brand&gclid=CJ3A0Pej4KQCFd9n5QodIC87KA ). Sorry, I can't embed my links!

    I am still not clear about the scent you found atop Mt. Sinai; the road apples left by passing camels, the unbearable Harvard student or perhaps a 60 cent falafel? Hey, wouldn't "60 Cent Falafel" be a great name for an Egyptian rapper?

    I also can't believe that you too are irritated by the uneven distribution of colors in M&M's. I know, you try and pass that off as someone else's concern but, "methinks the falafelizer doth protest too strongly". It's amazing because I used to keep a chart in my desk drawer that tracked of the quantity of each color in random bags of M&M's. My friend Brad would sort his and only eat one color at a time, but c'mon that's just crazy. By the way, orange is the least frequent color.

  2. I hasten to add that this M&M based research was performed only during the frequent phone conferences I am required to participate in, played a key role in honing my statistical analysis skills, and is no longer being conducted after I dropped 40 pounds and adopted the taut physique of a young Swedish boy. (a reference from this Sienfeld http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoN60Is1jcA - they laughed in the 80's but they're back!)

  3. Well I think its pretty obvious I subconsciously picked up the MnM idea through one of your dinner time rants after I had zoned out during a story of who's office couch you stole that day

    watched the clip... didn't catch a reference to a young Swedish boy. Although the only young Swedish boy I know, Rickard, fits that description, I don't think it's as well known a reference as you're making it out to be.

    But hey check out this link https://www.blogger.com/start Its free!

  4. Regarding Kramer's quote (about fifty lines down. I didn't count but that's what it looks like)