Friday, June 08, 2007

tittie bits

I just passed my three-month Cairo anniversary. I know I've had a three-month anniversary previously, but this one isn't tainted by tour leading hell. Here's a few things I've learned along the way.

On teaching English:
Decided I needed to stop hemorraghing funds and find some sort of 'job' that would pay SOME of my bills. I have four students, or three, not really sure. In general, they're pretty hard-working and not a total pain-in-the-ass to teach.

Ahmed likes to work in religious conversations as much as possible. He'll ask me questions like, "Mr. Eric, do you drink wine?" And of course, I say, "Yes....sometimes." And he'll be all shocked like, "Mr. Eric, really? You drink wine?!" What the fuck Ahmed, why ask the question if you thought you already knew the answer?

Adham is a total booze hound and studies with Ahmed.

Doraya has nicknamed herself DoDo. I'm not sure if it's pronounced DoDo like the bird or DoDo like kaka (baby word for poo). Today I met her to collect some cash and to cut the meeting as short as possible I said, "Okay DoooDooo, I have to go meet my friends, so I'll see you on Tuesday." And she replied with (I'm still shocked by this), "Oh, you have friends?"

I kind of just looked at her like, are you serious? I know that students never think their teacher's have a life, but come on!!! I thought the other day when she asked me if I had ever heard Arabic music was as stupid as she could get. No, DooDoo, I've never ridden in a taxi or a bus or watched music clips or had to endure high-pitched voices for my past two and a half years in the Middle East.

Then there's Ali. Ali is 40-something and gay. He's a masseuse in his spare time and likes to learn body part vocabulary. He had a minor break-down a month ago and started crying about his Saudi Arabian friend/lover that died 15 years ago. I haven't seen him since that last meeting, though he tells me when his work has calmed down, he'll resume classes. Which brings me to my next topic.

On Lying in Egypt:
I met this girl, who turns out to be Miss Arab World 2000 and something. She's a petite, spunky little thing. I've made two drinking dates with this sassy little number and she stood me up both times.

First time, there was an excuse that I actually believed.

Second time, she never showed up and didn't call back or text after two days worth of calls. A week later I finally got an MSN message from her saying that she was in a motorcycle accident and just suffered a few scratches, hence her non-communication. She assured me it was just scratches and nothing more serious.

I relayed this information to my Egyptian man and he immediately said that she was lying. He said this is bonafide Egyptian behavior.

To say, "No", isn't an option.
To not show up is okay.
To say, "It's my fault," will never happen.

I've since bounced this idea off of other Egyptian friends. It's true. To take fault for something and say "I'm sorry" is a character flaw, whereas in my culture it's a character trait we strive to have.

On finding new roommates in Egypt:
Like Craigslist in NYC, Craigslist in Egypt provides a fair share of whackjobs. Victoria from Washington, D.C. was a retard and a half. She had a nervous breakdown on my couch about how ugly Egyptian men are and how she'll never get laid. She wanted me to answer the question, "Why can't I be living in Lebanon where everyone is hot?!" Um. Move to Lebanon then, you dumb bitch.

On riding the subway in Cairo:
Metro etiquette:

1) If you're on the train platform, make sure to push your way onto the train before anyone is able to get off.
2) If you're on the train, make sure to push your way off the train before anyone is able to get on.
3) While the doors are still open at the stop prior to yours, run up to the door in preparation for your stop, making sure not to allow anyone on the train.
4) If you are getting off at the next stop, ask at least 12 people around you, "Are you getting off at the next stop?" If no, trade positions with them so that you are 4 inches closer to the door. If yes, don't say Yes....say "God willing".
5) Don't buy a ticket, just hop the gate
6) Ride in the women's car as much as possible because the lack of armpit stench is worth the fine if you get caught
7) Stare at any and all foreigners. Talk about them as loudly as possible because there's no way they could understand Arabic.

On speaking Egyptian dialect:
Forget everything you've ever learned.

In the North, replace all Q's with A's.
In the North, replace all J's with G's.
In the South, replace all Q's with G's.
In the South, keep the J.

Don't ever speak properly, because you won't be understand. It's all about being common.

Ask "How are you" at least 5 different ways before you start any conversation. Here's a translation:

How are you?
What's your news?
How are you?
Is everything good?
Is everything okay?
Is everything excellent?
Is everything beyond excellent?
How are you?
What are you doing? (Which really means, how are you?)


And then Thank God.

If you don't understand what someone is saying, just say, "God is Great" (like terrorists do before they kill people), "God Willing", or "Thanks be to God."

On drinking in Egypt:
Try to drink as much as possible.

Make sure to keep a log of all friends and friends of friends passing through so that you can keep your Duty Free liquor cabinet topped-up. Afterall, Egyptian-made alcohol is a death wish.

Belly-dancing clubs can offer very cheap drinking options and each table get's it's own girl-for-hire. She'll hold the fucking straw to your mouth while you suck your cocktail down if you pay her 25 cents.

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