Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hassan's Home and Kazza Kazza Kazza

So Hassan arrived back in Cairo this past Monday, the 28th. Shabaan called me in the morning and asked me if I was going to the airport to get him. I said yes. He said are you sure? I said yes. He said do you want to follow us? I said no, I can get there by myself. He said are you sure? I said yes, I'm sure. Thanks.

OK, so we made it there just fine. We only live 15 minutes from the airport, and since I've been driving all over Cairo for the past six months on my own, a quick trip to the airport was nothing.

We arrived at the airport and found Shabaan, Gamal, and Ehab waiting for Hassan. It was really wonderful of them to take time to welcome Hassan home.

Hassan arrived. Mira was excited. Yes, we stopped at the duty free shop. Ahem. . .

We made it out to the parking lot and I drove us to Olfat's. Hassan was not used to my driving and said that I'm driving a little crazy. Crazy?! There was no one on the road. . . just not like America.

We went to Olfat's ate all kinds of maashi, yum! and chicken, and molokayia (which I don't really care for). We stayed there for a little while and came home.

We fell asleep and got up at 3:00 am the next morning and talked until it was time for me to go to school.

Now we are looking for a new car for Hassan to buy before he returns to America. If he finds one, fine, if not, it can wait. We went out today with Dalia and Abazim to look at cars, and it drove the three of us absolutely nuts. They all talk at once and about different subjects, and Hassan doesn't need me asking "What?" "What?" So I just quietly walk away.

I'm still finishing up the school year and I'm physically and psychologically drained. I am completely burned out and have nothing else to contribute to the school at this point, other than just sitting at my desk and watching the teachers punch in and punch out everyday. I don't know if I'm returning next year or not. I'm thinking of tutoring English in my home after school, beginning in September. I am talking to other teachers about setting up a network of English/Math/Science tutors.



Monday, May 21, 2007

Has it really been that long since my last post?!

Here's what's happening:

Hassan comes home in 6 days - but he's only staying for 4 weeks, then returns to the US for 3-6 more months.

We're finishing the school year which is my busy time of closing down the office, but I love routine! Who would have ever thought? I was such an anti-routined person growing up, but now appreciate the routine of everyday life. Also, I look forward to re-negotiating a contract that I never received this past year, so I can continue at the school, Insha'Allah.

I have plenty to do over the summer -- between Mira swimming 3 days a week and quilts on order, I'll be busy.

It's been too stinking hot to do anything, so I'm getting in the summer mode of taking my afternoon "siesta." (ok so it's not Arabic, it's Spanish) A teacher at my school recorded 48 C outside this past Saturday.

I've been embroidering like crazy on my machine. (Thanks Shabaan!)

I have a new back balcony door. (Thanks again, Shabaan!)

I have a new closet (dulab) on order for my bathroom. (yes, thanks again Shabaan!)

I have to make a correction to a previous post, it doesn't take a village to raise a child, it takes an entire world. I have had so many friends from various cultural backgrounds, help me out with Mira over the past six months, I cannot possibly thank everyone. While this past year at school has been frustrating at times, today I realized how many real friends I have made at school because they truly care about Mira's well being and happiness.

Also, my brother Tom is on the mend from surgery. He's doing well, from what I hear. I hope you get better soon, Tom.

I have been speaking more Arabic around school and the teachers are impressed. Even Mira commented how well my Arabic is coming along. Alhamdulillah. Anything more than shwaya, shwaya (little by little) is good enough for me, which by the way I don't say anymore because Egyptians laugh at foreigners who use that phrase. Even I joke with Egyptians about it now. (Ok, I'll admit batting my blue eyes help too.)

To everyone who listened to me bitch and moan over the past six months in regards to kollahagga (everything), thank so much. I could not have done it without everyone. Now, here's to the next six months!! It's really not that bad, it starts at school time. So I have all summer to relax and get ready for the next round. Ding! Ding! Round 2!



Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thursday Sing Along Songs

The principal and friend of my school, Amy, used to have Thursday afternoon staff meeting for all teachers where we would discuss the successes of the week. Well today Amy said "I've given up on the Thursday meetings." I'm sure it's not because of the successes, because there are many especially at the end of the year, but because of the weariness of all the teachers.

So today, being Thursday, I remembered a happy song "Dixie Chicken" by Little Feat:

"If you'll be my dixie chicken, I'll be your Tennessee lamb.
And we can walk together down in dixie land."

And if you know me, I was singing it in the hallways sometimes silently and sometimes not. I also explained the song to any American asking what the song was about. It's one of the all-time greats.

OK, so living in Egypt I find myself singing most songs by myself, but when I sang it and asked Amy if she knew it she joined in, and yes, we even did the Thursday dance. Wow, what a relief. Someone who identifies with me. Someone who is close to my age and who understands my mentality on Thursdays at the end of the year.

This song reminds me of a party that my brother Tom's friend, Bob, had at his house and the song was sung and everyone was dancing in a field. It brings back great memories.

When I got home today I listened to endless hours of Bruce Springsteen remembering my own "Glory Days".

Life is different now, but it doesn't have to be so different that I don't listen to what I like and dance around my living room pretending to be the rock and roll star that I always wanted to be.

I'm sure there's karaoke somewhere in Cairo!



Monday, May 07, 2007

There are those you just can't do without

To follow up on a previous post, I thought about Hassan's friends who have been so helpful to us, not only by being there when we need them but always willing to help no matter what, no matter when. These past six months have helped me prove to myself that I can make it here on my own, but not really on my own as you all know from previous posts.

I am an independent, stubbourn woman, yes it is the Polish in me, and I just can't help it. But to Egyptians, they get upset if you don't ask for help.

There were a some times during the past months when I wanted to call Shabaan, Gamal, or Ehab for help, but tried to figure things out on my own and see if I could succeed. It's the small milestones in life that mean the greatest.

I really want to thank so much from the bottom of my heart Shabaan, Gamal, and Ehab for their words of support and help no matter how big or how small. Just knowing that they are there ready to help me at anytime has meant so much that I will never forget their generous hearts.

When Hassan used to describe them to me before I met them, I thought that it would be impossible to have friends like that anywhere. But I was wrong. It is possible, and it is a gift from God to have friends you can rely especially living in a country that is my second home, surrounded by people who seem to stare are me as though their eyes are burning through my skin.

Even though I have tried to "blend in" as much as possible, I still walk around as the fair-haired, blue-eyed, woman in hijab that gets the "not-quite-sure-what-country-she's-from" foreigner look. If I speak the very little Arabic I know, sometimes I find that Egyptians try to speak English in return, returning the courtesy, or they spout off into Arabic and I can only "fahma" or understand a few words, guessing what they are asking me about. Experiencing this enough times helps me learn the conversational Arabic to put petrol in the car, or buy something at the souk or even get directions to drive somewhere. But if it's anymore than yemeen, shimell, or lifff (right, left or turn around) I'm lost. I guess that's why Egyptians talk with their hands to describe almost everything.

Alhamdulillah, at last we have something in common.