Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Drive like an Egyptian

My friend just left me a note at my desk that says "ما اطيب خيّم يا يعقوب" which, translated to HEBREW means "מה טובו אוהלך יעקב"! ("How good are your tents, Israel.") SOOOO cool. Oh and for all of you Talmudists out there, "قفل" is the verb for "to ensure"...and the Aramaic noun "כפל" in the Talmud sort of acts as insurance...Oh, and we just learned a synonym for student (which had previously been "Talib" in my mind) which is, drum roll please: "Talmeez". 'Mazing.

OK outburst over.
On to things I've been doing.
I have just returned from spending time with my Egyptian "speaking partner", Nada. We went to a restaurant called "Ibn Balad" which means "Child of the Country" to get what they called "Oriental" food. Yes, "Oriental" was their choice of adjective. (Egyptians seem to know nothing of the political incorrectness that word bears in the United States...) The food was classic Middle Eastern fare, and I managed to eat only my typical pita and salad "bass" (only). When I walked in I sort of had this moment of "Wow, I'm with 4 bubbly Egyptian teenagers who want to be my friends, in an Egyptian restaurant in an Egyptian town". It was sort of surreal. What wasn't surreal, and what I suppose I should be used to by now, was the fact that my dinner tonight came to an approximate total of $1.65 (7 Ginnae). Delicious on so many levels.

Anyway, three of Nada's friends and two other Americans came with us. We talked about nothing, but that was just fine. This might sound odd, but the way the Egyptian girls interact with each other - the way they talk, their little mannerisms, even the way they wear their jewlery, reminded me poignantly of Israeli girls at their age (they're all 19). Or maybe its just because I was in Israel for my 19th year, and that's how I have found 19-year-old girls act. Either way, it seemed, for the first time since I've been here, found myslef back in the Middle East.

On the way back to the hotel we only almost killed five people, almost flipped the rickety manual Fiat on a quick turn three times, and almost had a run in with one very large vegetable truck. We also sang "Its Just Too Good to be True" together, learned the words for "cool" (Ifta) and "uncool" (fagkis), and discussed women who wear the Nakab (Hijab + nose and mouth). Oh, and there were 7 of us in the car...Nada was on my lap.

Which leads me to my finale: Off of Ben Harper's new album (some of you may recall that I went to the release party for this album at WXPN for my birthday...) here's the song "Why Must You Always Dress in Black".


  1. how is talib and talmeez the same thing? they don't have the same shoresh... my dad would be mad...

  2. yay. your birthday.
    so much fun.
    good times.