copy Excellent Adventures in Egypt

Enter here to share Joni's adventures living and working in Cairo courtesy of the U.S. Fulbright cultural exchange program. Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of our civilization. - Mahatma Ghandi

10/08/2004

Tidbits

I finally had the courage to order in Chinese. (Some of you may remember a certain "Chinese" dinner in Giza where the only recognizable item on the menu was the peanuts.) It wasn't too bad - and the very idea of eating tofu was delightful. The food traveled on the back of a motorcycle like these. Everybody does delivery in Cairo: restaurants, pizza places, grocery stores, shops, even fast food - it's still very strange to me to see a fleet of these bikes parked outside McDonalds. These bikes belong to Cook Door, a "healthy" fast food place located across the street from my flat. I've tried a couple of their offerings - quite good. The delivery guys zoom around all over Zamalek delivering kebab, pizza, salads and the many forms of chicken (an Egyptian staple) until 3 am or later. Posted by Hello Nahla, Eman's sister, is doing her Master's thesis on ethnic foods in Egypt. (Food reprter note: Thai has recently arrived and is very big here.) Nahla is exploring the different kinds of foreign food available and people's reactions to them. She says Egyptians are very reluctant to try new types of cuisine. Like others I've talked to, Nahla attribute this to a certain amount of closed mindedness to new ideas, and a curious lack of curiosity - problems in a society trying to make its place in the globalizing world. Last week's Quest for Items Household involved the search for an extension cord. I checked at the Alfa market, looked in a department store, and window shopped in any likely window. Nothing. So, as a last resort, I paid a visit to electrical supply shop down the street where I bought adapters the second day I was here. Mish moshkila (no problem): they simply made up an extension cord to my specifications on the spot. In my wanderings around Zamalek, I've seen a lot of tree branches piled up on sidewalks - looks like "fall cleanup is underway. On Tuesday I actually got to see the tree pruning operation in action. One man climbed the tree and tied a rope around the designated branch. The other end of the rope was tossed to a compatriot in the street, who promptly commandeered a work force. The corvee survives! (For the non-Egyptologists among you, "corvee" is the form of labor conscription used to build all those monuments we come here to gape at.) The tree man whomped the branch vigorously with a dull axe while the crew of five men below pulled on the rope. After a lot of whacking, the branch finally broke, tumbling down in a shower of accumulated dust. (You gotta be tough to survive as a tree in Egypt.) Everyone smacked their hands free of dust and went on about their business. Best news of the week: All Saints (the Episcopal Cathedral I wrote about earlier) has a lending library with a very large collection of novels. I have found a supplier for my reading addition, hamdulilah!

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