Friday, March 10, 2006

Back to being a bachelor - sort of

So Dahab was cool. I can fully recommend it for a week break or so. Get a decent hotel near the Corniche, not one these mega chain ones, and just kick back. The original chilled out feel has still been preserved quite well with the activity bits tagged on, like camel riding in the desert, horse riding on the beach, quad biking, wind surfing (kite surfing as well), kayaking, and of course snorkelling and scuba diving. Not a Pharonic temple in sight or over-zealous sales people! Might have to go back one of these days. Of course it helps if you can negotiate big discounts on almost everything.

Mrs C went back to UK to start revising for her finals last week. I’ll be staying on for another month – shorter than I wanted but apparently I’m needed back in the office. As planned I’ve vacated our over priced flat and gone back to living like a bachelor, sharing digs with a student from Al-Azhar university. The good thing is that my flat mate, although from South Africa, speaks fluent Arabic and the place is cheap and functional. Unfortunately it is slightly far from the network of people I’ve got to know over the last couple of months and a bit sparse. He has just gone on a three day trip with some of his uni mates so tis a bit lonely here on my own for a few days (except for the ants to keep me company).

Ustad Ahmed’s wife has taken pity on my bachelor status and although I insisted I knew how to cook and could at least pick up a phone and order a pizza or kushary (yum) if I needed, she gave me enough home-cooked food to last the week! This also included a massive tray of jelly which resulted from a passing remark I made about not being able to get halal jelly in the UK! Well at least I won’t starve – and my pots and pans remain unpacked.

The by product of their genorisity, as Ustad Ahmed sees it, is that I now have more time to study and revise. Given the short space of time I have left, Ustad Ahmed is keen on packing in as much as he can and the lessons are becoming more and more intense. I know I won’t be able to remember a lot of it but at least I will be able to revise when I get back and have my notes – I hope. We’ve started tajweed and I’rab of the Quran now. Sometimes my head hurts from all this and I had call in to cancel a couple of Diwan classes – but I’ve promised myself that I will never do a ten-hour day of pure grammar – it will just drive me insane.

On the plus side I met up with another student from Al Azhar university today. I first met him a week or so after we arrived and he mentioned that my Arabic had very much improved since that first meeting. He’s offered to show me around some of the sights of Islamic Cairo which are not necessarily on the tourist trail – I think I’ll take him up on that.

And finally, I came across this on the net. Some of it is starting to ring true…

You Know You've Lived in the Middle East Too Long When ...

  • You're not surprised to see a goat in the passenger seat
  • You think the uncut version of "Little House on the Prairie" is provocative
  • You expect the confirmation on your airline ticket to read "insha'allah"
  • You don't expect to eat dinner before 10:30 p.m.
  • You need a sweater when it's 80 degrees outside
  • Your idea of housework is leaving a list for the maid
  • You believe that speed limits are only advisory
  • You have no problem with tractors driving 40kph on the highway
  • You know whether or not you are within missile range of Iraq
  • You get excited and spread the news when "Oreo" cookies show up at the grocery store
  • You fully expect to go to jail when a local national hits the back of your car at a stop sign
  • You know which end of a shawarma to unwrap first
  • You think that the further you inch into the middle of an intersection, the faster the light will turn green
  • You consider it normal for the same section of the road to be dug up three times by contractors in the space of a few weeks
  • You understand that the true definition of a nanosecond is the time interval between the light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn
  • You think that all gas stations are made of marble
  • You can receive every TV station crystal clear except the local one
  • You get used to using the cold water tap to get hot water during the summer
  • You make left turns from the far right lane without a second thought
  • You expect gold for every birthday
  • You think Pepsi begins with a "B"
  • You think that a box of kleenex belongs on every dinner table
  • You think water only comes in bottles
  • You understand that when someone says "Bukra (tomorrow), Insha'Allah" to you it really means "Sometime during this calendar year"...if you're lucky!
    You start writing from the right side of the page.


Blogger mad as a cambridge bicycle said...

Good post, finally. Mrs C has been complaining that she doesn't know why she left her laptop with you seeing as you never blog!


12:25 am  
Blogger tails of a mad cow said...

nice to hear from you Mr C.

Well, I don't pity your bachelor status seeing as you don't have to cook! Fudge said I should send some food your way when we cooked but now i see there is no need to.

I gather your all jellied out by the sounds of it though...

4:01 pm  
Anonymous Little Miss C said...

I found that very funny...especially that Middle Eastern List thingy...and quite agree with Mad Cow...Seems like you're half living a life of luxury -no unpacking the pans, cooking with them, and most of all cleaning them!!!....I'm dreading the day you come back (not)...just in case you really get used to it.....

Be careful not to put on anymore weight with all that jelly!

12:41 am  
Anonymous Little Miss C said...

...and develop a jelly belly..

12:48 am  
Blogger Mr. C said...

Oh no! Just received another package of food. Imagine if you will a circular tray of jelly about 30 cm in diameter as well of containers of pasta, roasted lamb, rice, ladies finger stew, and some sort of pasta/meat bake!! (I forget the jar of soup) Not even finished the first batch yet. I'll bring some jelly around if you want Cow.

7:20 pm  
Blogger tails of a mad cow said...

orite then, swing some by on your way to Diwan.

9:32 am  
Blogger dazey said...


ello, been a while since i visited methinks. lol at the list-we used to get that in saudi and laugh at how 100% accurate it was (i aint kidding people).

enjoy your month revisiting bachelorhood (tho dunno how...)!


8:28 pm  
Blogger fudgebumpkin said...

Well done Mr C. That was actually interesting!

9:21 pm  
Blogger Sham Blogger said...

salams DB,

nice to read that again after some years. I'll hv dazey know that it seems 100% accurate coz it was written by one of the teachers of Jeddah Prep about 5 yrs ago, just before she left the School, and the country - i think for retirement.

Someone then took it and adjusted it slightly to make it applicable to the entire gulf region, approximately, tho' a lot of the stuff is still peculiar to us over here...

1:56 pm  
Anonymous dazey said...

no way! how do you know?!

9:35 pm  
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8:17 am  
Anonymous Mr T. said...

"Needed back in the office"...? says who????!!!
No seriously, we all await your return with anticipation. I have even tidied the things that have been on your desk since December.

By the way, a taxi has just come down Blackfriars Road with a goat in the back.

Has the word of the Sporange spread into the environs of Cairo yet?? Or is it too late?
Does anyone know of an arabic translation?

12:01 pm  

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