Friday, August 25, 2006

Ah, a can of beer, which James procured for us at a place called Drinkies. That’s not a misspelling. Steeeellllaaa! (the brand) I took a picture of James because he looked so creepily satisfied with his beer. Really, now. Picture to come when the faster connection does.

We just got back from a neighbors’ flat downstairs, someone else who teaches at the university. (Yes, I’m going to say “flat” as if I am cosmopolitan or something.) She happened to have two Egyptian visitors there at the same time and thus ensued our first real encounter in conversing in English with Egyptians. Our neighbor let us know how to do the garbage, how much to give the doorman, and how she doesn’t even do dishes anymore because of the housekeeper that we apparently must have. It’s strange to come from a country where you just expect to do it yourself or spend an arm and a leg paying someone else to do it if you’re such a richie-rich as to have the Merry Maids come in and move dirt around. For example, in regard to the ants I was at battle with the other day – twice we have waged war, and I have won the battle if not the destruction of their abodes. I’ve created rigid rules in the kitchen due to my foes. Even the cereal is in the fridge, which perhaps reveals more about me than anyone should know. I mentioned the Ant Party to our neighbor, and she told me that the landlords would take care of it promptly. (I pause now to recall all of the leases I’ve ever had, which have stated clearly that I am responsible for decimating critters unless they are too large or vicious to handle personally.) Our neighbor said that the landlords would change lightbulbs, even. I’m trying to imagine how put upon I will feel upon returning to America if I start having people change my lightbulbs for me here.

Everyone delivers goods here, and people are trusted. Imagine that. Today James went to buy some flowers and he thought they were going to cost less than they did, so he didn’t have quite enough. The flower guy, who we don’t know, said James could pay him later. Come again?

At the neighbor’s flat, we also got into a political discussion, a thing that those pesky guidebooks warned us never to do. I’m beginning to see that the guidebooks are not to be followed to the letter. We also discussed the spiritual cleansing of Ramadan. People do not even drink water during the day in the month of Ramadan. I can’t imagine, being a water bottle coddler myself.

This is running long, so I’ll close with the following: -- a currency exchange site. It’s a source of endless fascination for me at the moment, especially without TV and only three books ‘til the shipment comes in. We have to buy a washer since they don’t have laundromats. A new washer costs around LE 2,000 (Egyptian pounds). Go see how much that is in U.S. dollars if you’re curious. Also, it should cost you LE 5 at the most to get from the university to Zamalek by taxi. Have fun!



Aleana said...

$347.83 US dollars......does this sound right???? Now that I'm done with college I was up for a challenge!!

Kim said...

$347.87 if you round up. And, isn't it Molly Maids?

Kim said...

LE.87 for a taxi ride? you can't get by for less the $5 in NYC just to go 1 block. By the way, how much does Merry Maids put you back? I am loving this blog thing you two are doing - what a great idea! xo

American_in_Cairo said...

Kim: You can read all about Merry Maids and their racket in Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. --James