Tuesday, January 17, 2006

What do I do with all this time on my hands?

The Eid Holiday is over, and believe me I don't want to eat lamb, beef, or even chicken for at least a month. I've been filling up on fuul (beans) and lots of tamaya (falafel). There is plenty of good food in Egypt that is healthy, just be sure there isn't any fat added, such as butter or ghee (clarified butter). Oh, and stay away from the pastries -- Egyptians are high carb people by nature. I have been feeling quite satisifed throwing out cookies and bread that have gone stale.

I went into work yesterday to prepare the payroll deduction summary for staff, and I in turn got paid as well. In Egypt I get paid in cash and have to count the money and sign for the pay before I take it home. I joke that I'm a good wife of an Egyptian and give my husband all my money (it's only a joke). Historically, Egyptian women do not turn over their paychecks to their husbands, whatever they earn is theirs to keep. The husband is required to provide the home and spending money for the family.

I'm not working for the money, but rather to meet people and interact with others. I can't figure out yet if working is easing the culture shock or throwing it into overdrive; perhaps it's a lot of both.

I am off of work and Mira is off of school until we return on February 5th, which gives me plenty of time on my hands. Hassan watched Mira yesterday and when I got home from work he said "I'm going out with my 'boys' -- Mira is just too much to take care of." Really? I hadn't known that, but I agree.

What do I do with all the free time? Well, for starters there's always laundry - I enjoy doing laundry and now that we have a southern exposure I can do several loads a day. Oh, by the way if you ever want to know if I'm doing laundry, just check the weather report for Cairo, for if there's a cloud on the horizon I must be hanging laundry out to dry - and not just socks and jeans, but sheets and towels. The majority of Egyptians do not have dryers because the sun dries the laundry faster and doesn't heat up the home from April - November. I'm still debating on whether or not to buy a dryer. I have to wait and see what February and March hold in terms of weather. We have yet to enter the sandstorm season. Oh joy.

This brings me back to the time issue. I want to go shopping, but still feel that I am at a disadvantage because of the language barrier. My confidence is a lot better than it was when we moved here, but I am still timid to get out there and shop on my own -- without Hassan.

On or around February 3rd I will probably figure out what to do with all this time on my hands and then scurry to get a month's worth of work completed in two days.



Tuesday, January 10, 2006

There's Nuttin' Like Mutton

If you are a lamb (meat) lover, then this is for you. If you are a PETA activist or care about animals in any way, you may want to skip this post.

I love animals, and yes, I eat meat - mostly chicken, beef not too much of and lamb, I think they ought to ban the slaughter of sheep.

Every Eid (meaning festival) it is a ritual similar to Greeks where each family will go to a farm, pick out a sheep and slaughter it, giving one third to the poor, one third to the family, and keeping one third for themselves. Well, we finally got around to slaughtering our first sheep.

Hassan is not religious in the least bit, actually he believes religion has its place but no one religion should be forced on to people -- I kind of agree with him on this point, but not to his extreme.

We went to the "farm" (military base where the farmer draftees raise sheep), picked out our sheep and kept it in the basement of Aunt Olfat's apartment for two days until this morning. Being the first day of the Eid holiday we went to Aunt Olfat's and waited for our sheep to be slaughtered. It wasn't too bad, I've seen worse things on television, but the hard part for me was having to eat lamb soup, lamb rice and lamb lamb lamb. I couldn't watch anyone else eat much less look at the food on my plate. Luckily the day ended and we came home.

Now we have one whole lamb in Aunt Olfat's freezer along with three other poor le moutons.

Everytime we go to someone's house for a lamb festival (which luckily has only been twice in 9 months), I think of two things: Jerry Seinfeld in the mutton episode where he would spit out the mutton into blue fabric napkins and then have dogs chase him down the street; and, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Only my episode would be My Big Fat Egyptian Family. There are no vegetarians allowed, and if you happen to be a vegetarian, you can eat lamb, because lamb really isn't meat, now is it?



Monday, January 02, 2006

Kolahagga and Mafeesh - Everything and Nothing

Happy New Year! Wow, 2006 already!? I remember when it was a year ago and we put our house on the real estate market hoping it would sell. Alhamdulillah (Thanks be to God) it sold as well as it did at the time.

So much has happened since my last post. Let's see -- well, first of all we moved to a bigger apartment in the same development. It is helwa owie (really beautiful). We thought we would never find anything in this hot real estate market until the spring. We've been here two weeks and are finally settling in -- can't you tell the pc is hooked up once again?

Christmas was interesting. I really missed being with my family with all the traditions that my parents raised us on. The pierogi, split pea soup and holupki are sorely missed, but I was able to find saurkraut at a large supermarket chain so I'm going to be rolling cabbage this weekend. I was very sad on Christmas, but the day passed quickly and I was able to get my mind back on to my work.

Mira had a nice visit from Santa. We were able to put up a tree and now know where to shop for next year's ornaments. I hope to bring the ornaments back with me from the US that my one brother is holding for us.

Every January marks bittersweet anniversaries: it will be 9 years since my Mom died, and just a week later, Hassan and I celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary on January 30th. And if that's not enough, I turn a year older in February. Ugh, I hate to mention how old I'll be, but Valerie, you know the true age.

We have one month off from work beginning January 6 and ending February 4. The vacation combines the Eid al Fitr (the Hajj) in Islam and a winter holiday that we must take. I will probably work some of the time just to catch up on paperwork and hopefully we will do something fun like go to Luxor and visit the temples. And maybe, if I'm lucky we will be able to look for a nice dining room set for our apartment. We'll have to see how things play out.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.

I wish everyone the very best for 2006!