Cats, Arabic and Other Ancient Things

Have mentioned the cats yet? Because I believe they deserve to be mentioned. The proliferous population of cats here in Cairo are at the forefront of my mind this afternoon as I remember back to this morning when I was awakened by two of them going at it in the alley behind my flat. I can’t figure out why people compare “girl fighting” to cat fights because from the sound of it one of those cats is dead or at the very least severely injured. Cleo wouldn’t last five minutes in this place.

Speaking of survival Arabic class started yesterday and my head is spinning. I am in the process of learning the alphabet and I am a little worried that the other kids will laugh at me if I mess it up Sunday in class (yeah, the work week ends on Thursday and starts on Sunday here. I don’t remember feeling this way since roughly 1st grade. I am excited to learn this language, but it is incredibly difficult. There are very few absolute rules and the entire language is sort of like a free for all as far as vowels go. I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Yesterday we visited the Citadel located in Cairo and toured five beautiful, historical mosques in the area. Upkeep of these places is very poor and the pollution in the city is obviously affecting the integrity of these structures. Similiar situation at the the Egyptian Museum. The building is drafty and very few of the artifacts are behind glass or roped off. There are some rather stern signs ordering vistors not to touch, but that made me want to touch things even more. I promise I only touched one or two ancient things and then I felt an immense amount of guilt about the oils on my hands that are now eroding those artifacts. Note to self: follow all rules concerning ancient things…

Last night we also saw sufi dancing aka whirling dervishes. This was clearly a show for tourists, but traditionally the sufis work themselves into a trance while they twirl and this is a form of mediation and worship to God. All I know is that there was this guy in a skirt that spun around for 30 minutes without stopping and that the cymbal man was moving his hips in ways that surely would have gotten him kicked out of Taylor.

Tonight we are going to the opera. Madame Buttefly. I am wearing fishnet tights and no one can stop me. Everyone thinks I’m being scandalous, but I keep telling them I’m not and that “fashion tights” are in style. Maybe I’ll wear high heels and just push everyone right over the edge.

Tommorow we are headed to Alexandria for out first weekend adventure. Emily,our intern, gave us some rather ominous warnings that included: you probably won’t want to shower at the hotel we’re staying at, you shouldn’t leave anything at the hotel while we’re out, and you probably won’t sleep well. Why are we doing this again? I’ll tell you what I think upon my return.

This entry is officially dedicated to JTB2K4. Remember where we were a year ago? I was looking at the TJ and would like to announce that it was indeed 22 degrees below zero in Minnetonka. Could one weekend really have changed my life like that? Thanks for teaching me about community.

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5 Comments

Filed under the middle east

5 responses to “Cats, Arabic and Other Ancient Things

  1. Anonymous

    Oh marcia, reading your entries makes me miss you even more. Can we be friends forever?? I have a plan for your life (better than any plans Fark ever made for you) you should puruse a writing career, hook up with Donald and live happily ever after. 🙂
    I want to send a little shout out about the orange pants- Mrs. Ghali, you rock! And, thank you, Marcia, for giving your beloved sweatpants a foster home, they will be well taken care of.
    Sending you all my JTB2k4 (and JTB2k5) love, Bonnie
    ps. I’ve safely arrived in the sunshine state. wish you were here.

  2. brit

    I thought it my responsibility to inform you that the JTB2k5 fairies, who are apparently in thier second term (JTB2k4, being their first), are spending their long weekend with a close friends behind English Hall’s front desk. The fairy committee along with Mary Tower herself, wish to send you warm greetings from the Taylor tundra. Upon thier return to Taylor’s finest residence hall yesterevening, they were a bit disappointed that there would be no subzero Midwest excursions in the company of such endearing crowds as ones, Bonnie Alice Green and Marcia May Ghali. However there spirits were revived upon hearing that both bueaties are in a much warmer and kind climate.
    Much love Marcia. Enjoy your evening and the show…I mean, Madame Butterfly is no Jesus Christ Superstar, but try to enjoy yourself…How can you not after getting such a steal on your fish nets…
    I love you times three.
    bh
    ps…how are those pastel hair clips holding up?

  3. Nawal Ghali

    I totally agree with Bonnie, you have to persue a career in writing, you crack me up. I don’t know who Donald is and why she wants you to hook up with him, but the happily ever after part I like a lot.
    Have we told you that we shaved Cleo’s neck and she looks really fierce and maybe with the new look she could have withstood the cat-fight.
    I hope you like Alexandria. I spent 3-4 months of every year (summer into fall) of my growing up years in Sidi Beshr Beach, (thats where we had our place). Enjoy and take in the sights on the Mediterranean. I love that sea. You are going to be quiet the traveller by the time you come home, we will not be able to keep you in Des Moines. I love you foreve, I love you for always. Mommy

  4. Anonymous

    YOU are quite the wordsmith my young Hawkeye friend! I can hardly wait to digest your next colorful entry. Bonnie looks smashing (I’m writing that with an Aussie accent) in the sweats you’ve loaned her.

    Continue to have a wonderful time. Laurie and I are praying for you daily.

    Looking forward to hearing about your latest adventure,
    Tom (aka your roomie’s Dad)

  5. Stephen Becker

    Oh MMG~How I did love JTB2K4. It was one to remember. Granted, I did engaged during JTB2K5, so that was pretty dang cool, but hours with you and AJ and Bon-Bon was special beyond description. Let’s all remember that rafting down the Mississippi still is on schedule. Summer after you three graduate? As for the fish-nets, you know I am in full support. Fashion tights are sweeping the world and I am delighted you are one of the frontrunners. As for your friends who uttered things in disbelief, I assume they’re learning and I wonder if there are still guys there who think wearing pink is a no-no. What sadness and disgrace to one of the most poinently poetic colors this world has ever known.

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