Friday, July 6, 2007

Still Alive


Hello all. Sorry for the extended silence, but there has been much transition recently and precious little time to spend at the computer. Work with FINCA in Jordan finished up well with the completion of a few projects and another visit or two to the Palestinian refugee camps. After a brief visit to Petra, a contender for one of the New Seven Wonders of the World (deservedly so), my travels took me to Cairo where I have just finished my first week of classes at the International Language Institute, a wonderfully professional outfit. With 5.5 hours of class time per day (all in Arabic) and couple hours of homework, the academic frenzy has begun again.

Rock formation in Petra

Cairo is a remarkable place with tons of energy and blaring music and traffic and just about everything else you could ever ask for in a large urban center (including the only subway on the continent of Africa). The cafe culture is refreshing, with men playing card and backgammon every day until the early morning hours, reliably smoking sheesha and drinking a cup of tea. I have invested in a chess set so I can meet these men, practice my Arabic, and relive the unfettered glory of my days as a competitive chess player. Swoon ladies, swoon.

As I adjust to a new life in Cairo, I will begin to write more frequently. Currently a piece about Hamas and Fatah is in the works and I still owe you the second half of "Scattered Thoughts from Jordan." Thank you for your patience with this.

Lastly, it is with great pleasure that I inaugurate a new feature here at Tar Heel Travelers. Please allow me to introduce "Globalization At Its Finest", an ongoing photo-documentary project which highlights the rapid pace of technological, cultural and economic integration happening around our world. All the authors are invited to share photos around this theme and you at home are welcome to send photos which we can publish here. The first entry:

Cell phone call on the way to work.

Thanks for reading. Check back soon.


Sam said...

the other day, on the streets of DC, i saw a lady with a muslim-style hands-free cell phone-- which is to say, her cell phone was being held tight against her ear by her hijab, no hands.

i didn't have my camera. but if people do that in cairo, please take a picture of it.

salma said...

now it *is* one of the seven wonders!

Lauren Jill Hatshepsut said...

Dominoes and eateries. Matt, here's my long promised comment. You mention chess, to talk with local men.
I lived in the 1 flat above ILI. Often evenings I'd get a bite to eat at Taster's, just around the corner of Mahmoud Azmy and Ahmad 'Orabi. I highly recommend it (and imagine you know of it. If not, just around the corner and set back a little). Anyway, always at that corner there were 2-3 men playing serious dominoes. Of course I always acknowledged them and often said some kind of "hi." One evening they hadn't started, hadn't set up yet and I said, "Dominoes?". I replied, "La'" tho I probably should have. So if you're in the environs in the evening, they're a nice bunch.
Regarding eateries, you probably know many more than I, but I'll throw out a couple (of not enormous restaurant size). One is Cedars, in the more southern part of Mohandiseen. Very good.
Another is Maison Thomas, on Zamalak, sort of on north side of Sharia 26 July, on the eastern side of the island. It's in walking distance of Culture Wheel, or Wisdom Wheel, or whatever that wonderful cultural center is called, under the bridge of Sharia 26 July, on the far west side of Zamalak.
I'm going to give a comment to your posting about books--not really a recommendation (because it's LONG), but maybe of interest to someone, if people look this far back at comments, or perhaps of interest to you at a later date.

Lauren Jill Hatshepsut said...

The serious dominoes players: I omitted

When I said to them, "Dominoes?" they said "Join us!", but I declined.