Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Recently, Brandon called his mother for her birthday. Long ago in a land far away, he picked up his phone, dialed ten numbers, and then sang her Happy Birthday.
Today he started at 6:15. First he dialed 8 numbers, then talked to somebody, dialed two more, and then was told that the number was invalid. So he tried again. Then I tried again. And again.
After waiting 30 minutes, he tried again, and then got to dial 10 more numbers, only to not have it work. He tried again, with the same result.
Not wanting to try the patience of the man who kept answering the phone after the initial 8 numbers, he waited an hour this time, and got all the way through 8 numbers, 2 numbers, 12 numbers, 10 numbers and 10 more numbers only to have it not work – again.
Then, it being his mother’s birthday after all, and being a boy who really loved his mother, he tried one last stinkin’ time. And this time, after punching buttons on the phone 43 times in the correct sequence, he heard his mother’s sweet melodious voice. And he wished her Happy Birthday.
Monday, October 5, 2009
So, I went to my trusty computer, turned it on, and then watched as the little spinning wheel just keep spinning and spinning and spinning. After nothing happened for awhile, I looked at the router. No magic green light for anything related to the internet. So I unplugged it and plugged it back in. Still no results. After a few more attempts, I had to face the reality: we had nothing coming to our house.
Usually in this situation, I wait to see how things develop. However, this time dinner was on the line, so we needed some action, and we needed it now. So I took a drastic step and called TE Data.
After a few menus, the man on the line told me that the problem was simple: we hadn’t paid our internet, which was due on the 24th. All we had to do was get somebody over to TE Data, pay some money, and wait for it to get turned back on.
At this point in the states, I would have said OK and sent Brandon racing over with some cash as soon as he got home. But I’m an expat now, and I live in Egypt. Things are different here. Instead, I told him he was wrong. We had paid already, and we had paid two months in advance. Yes, he told me, but our two months were up. No, I told him, that wasn’t right because we only got internet three weeks ago. No you don’t understand he told me, you can’t pay three months in advance, only two.
At this point, I entered my expat persona with full force: I started yelling. No! I told him, YOU don’t understand – we just paid three weeks ago!! We paid two months in advance!! The internet should be working!!
Then he told me to hold on a minute while he checked with billing. Full of apologies, he came back in a minute. ‘I’m so sorry madam, there was a mistake. We’ll have it back on in less than two hours.’
I should think so.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Last Saturday, Brandon and I decided to get out and go to Egypt. For those of you who are wondering ‘Don’t they live in Egypt?’ you are right, but not quite right. Although we live in Egypt – most people speak Arabic, I pay for things with Egyptian pounds, and everything takes 10 times longer to complete – we don’t actually spend much time in the Egypt that most Egyptians think of being their home.
In fact, if one lived in the compound, took the shuttle to work, shopped exclusively at the Commissary, and spent their weekend at Maadi house, they wouldn’t ever actually have to leave US-administered locations.
Brandon having had enough of US-administered locations, we decided to visit his friend Samir in Helwan. Last time we lived here, Brandon spent nearly every day, 4 or 5 hours a day, passing time with Samir in his family’s store, going on errands, or hanging out at their apartment. Brandon liked to refer to Samir as his 35 year-old Egyptian boyfriend.
So on Saturday for old times’ sake, we dressed up the girls, hiked over to the Metro, and headed down to Helwan, a very Egyptian area of Cairo. Both Brandon and I had made the trip before, but this time we had two little blonde girls with us which increased our foreigner profile dramatically.
Unfortunately for our trip, we had not factored in the Muslim holiday of Eid-Al-Fitr, the slam-bang finish to Ramadan which involves, of course, more eating. Samir’s store being a store, it is situated right in the middle of the shopping district of Helwan.
So Kathleen got to have a waist-level tour of vegetable stalls, countless stinky Egyptians, animals, fish stands, potholes full of slime and muck, and everything else that comes with third-world markets. I looked down at one point to see her covering her mouth while commenting ‘Something smells good. It smells like poop’ (she hasn’t figured out that ‘smell’ and ‘good’ don’t always have to be linked together). By the time we reached Samir’s store, Kathleen was about to go into social withdrawal.
Unfortunately for us, she didn’t and we had a very… nice… visit that was punctuated by warnings every five minutes to Kathleen about not touching anything and Sophia crying, as of course the visit took place in the middle of their nap.
Eventually we headed back to Samir’s place around 1:30 or 2 for ‘breakfast’ which the Kathleen wouldn’t touch and Sophia ate everything offered to her, including gargir, also known as arugula grown much larger and bitterer than it ever ought to have.
We finally used the girls incessant crying and whining to escape and straggled home around 4:30 – only six hours after we left. Make sure and come back – like tomorrow – Samir told us as we hustled out of his apartment. Hmm. We’ll have to see about that.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Yesterday, Rere came through my door with two very heavy bags. In each bag was 10 pounds of mangoes. Yesterday afternoon after coming home from my doctor’s appointment, I set to work. Two hours later, my hands were cramped and aching, and my skin and fingernails were dyed yellow. When I went to bed, I was followed by the scent of mango that still hadn’t washed off.
However, I had four containers of pulp ready to make four batches of jam with. Seven bags of pulp were in my freezer, ready when the urge for mango jam or mango custard strikes me. My pioneer ancestors would be proud.