About My Blog

I Spent six weeks in Egypt before spending a year in Germany. This blog covers the best summer of my life. If you are looking for my posts while I was in Germany ask me, and I'll be happy to share them but I have been asked not to share them publicly. Feel free to visit my brothers blog of his year in Germany or my new blog

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Monday and tuesday

Last Monday our teacher could not male it to class because she had a
death in the family. At that point her loss was our gain, I had barely
slept the night before and I was able to go home and sleep until the
late afternoon. However she told us the next day that we would have
to male up the class on the weekend or have a double class on another
day. We went to Alexandria this weekend so a weekend class was
impossible. Our class usually starts at 8 30 and ends at 11 and then
there is a class inthe afternoon from 11 30 until 2 30 which she also
teaches. We are only registered for one class (our other class is
taught by Georges in the same building where we are staying) so we
usually go home at 11 in the taxis that we have convinced to drive us
to and from school everyday for a reduced price. Well we scheduled
our makeup class for after the afternoon class, so that it would begin
at 3 and go until 5 30. We hoped that Georges would ask the drivers to
still pick us up at 11 and then bring us back to school in time for
the 3 o'clock class. No such luck. Instead I wasted four hours in the
Internet room at the school. 11 here is 4 am eatern time so of course
there was nobody to talk to and no emails that I hadn't already seen
or responded to. Four hours on my computer at home seems to fly by, I
have music, movies, and friends that are online at similar times as me
but again, no such luck. The makeup class was fun but tiring because
of the four wasted hours and no nap. After class I just wanted to get
food and take a nap but, you guessed it, no such luck. Instead we had
an evening class on Islam with sheikh hamdallah, a twenty minute walk
and a two hour lecture/class just about did me in. The lecture was
interesting and I learned alot but I still left with more questions
than answers. We have another lecture with him next week and I will be
sure to bring a notebook and pen so that I can write down and ask my

The sheikh was one of the most educated and non confrontational. He
talked about the pillars of Islam, the four levels of life, the parts
of a person, and the method of prayer. He spoke through a translator
and while I could only pick apart the most basic of words he was using
I was transfixed by his words. The translator was one of the best I
have ever come across and he spoke eloquently and with a purpose,
eliminating extraneous parts of questions and answers. I asked
questions about converting to islam (no worries, just curiosity
because he said that they can make up for missed prayers so I wanted
to know if a convert would need to make up all of those prayers as
well). He said that it's as simple as taking a shower and stating that
your are Muslim and that there is no god but allah. He said that the
most important part of it is the sincerity and that afterwards your
life post-conversion is all that matters. Once you have converted to
become a new person and all past actions in your life are erased,
missed prayers need not be mad up as long as you continue to pray
after converting. My second question was why there are five prayers a
day and not four or six or a hundred. I could not understand the
Arabic he spoke but I could tell that there was a smart tone. This
smart response was verified when the narrator simply told me "it is
what is natural". He elaborated by saying that you pray at dawn, and
dusk. As well as noon and two other points in the day but I cannot
remember the importance of those points. The dawn, noon, and dusk
prayers seem natural to me as well but I don't understand the other
two, but I'm sure that I will at the next lecture.

After a triple class with no nap I decided to sleep in this morning so
I missed my morning class, I woke up around noonish, grabbed lunch and
decided to upload more photos to facebook. I left at three and met up
with yalda and sara and we went to our favorite restaurant, a little
kooshary "hut". It's a tiny place and there are two people working
there, a cook and a cashier. We eat there every day and they see as as
we walk down the street towards them and only need to ask how much we
are spending. They sell take away in three sizes which are named after
the amount of money each costs: taleeta, arba, and Hamza. I usually
get taleeta and it's more than enough for one person. Taleeta gineea
or three pounds is the equivalent of 60 cents in the US. Their price
worthiness is embarassing to American food and to add insult to injury
they just about make fast food restaurants like mcdonalds look like
full service restaurants. Our interactions from the time we arrive
until the time we leave with food and have chatted with the two men
last a total of thirty seconds. I repeat THIRTY SECONDS! Plus it's
just about the best food I have ever had. This is hilarious I'm sure
to the men who work their and any onlookers because it is typically
the poor mans meal in Egypt. I suppose the poor eat well here. I
think I may start a kooshary restaurant somewhere and charge fifty
cents a bowl, not only as a service to the poor, the hurried, and the
hungry but also as a reminder to american fast food restaurants that
they have to work to maintain their reputation as "fast".

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