Monday, February 12, 2007

The need for speed

I'd first off like to say that the reason that I haven't blogged for a while is that I have been a bit under the weather. I had a cold or something that lasted a couple of days, and I also had something wrong with my gums which eventually required a visit to a dentist. Dentists in Egypt appear to be pretty good, and are extremely cheap. I got an emergency visit plus an X-ray (to make sure I didn't have cavities) for the equivalent of $14. I'm now taking antiobiotics and this weird anti-septic mouthwash that is also a whitener and a plaque remover. My teeth have never been whiter or brighter.

Some of my classmates told me last week about a high-speed cafe in the mall just down the street from my apartment. After dealing with the slowness of dialup and phone lines that fall apart, I was finally read to give the cafe a go. And, aside from being extremely noisy and requiring a bit of finesse in setting up the connection, I now have a wonderfully fast Internet connection. I'll probably be stopping by here 2-3 times a week to do real 'Net work. Next purchase: noise-canceling headphones.

So, now that I can, I'm going to post some pictures from the past week or so.

On Saturday, we went to a number of the lovely archaeological sites in Egypt. I decided to be artsy fartsy and do a bunch of photos which juxtapose the modern and ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, those lovely photos are still on my camera, and not on my laptop. So, instead you're just going to have to look at this photo of the entrance to my apartment.

That's one of my classmates. His name is kept obscure because I haven't asked his permission to share it. His obscured head is courtesy of my "interesting" camera skills.

Since his photo's already out on the web, I can probably get away with showing this photo of Khaled, my teacher:

Yes, I know it's terrible. You try taking a picture at night while riding down the bumpy Alexandria streets without a flash!

Tomorrow there are exams on grammar and phonology -- part of the "language awareness" part of the course. I'm pretty sure I'll do okay, and in any case the teachers have made clear that even if you fail this part, you can still pass the class, since students are primarily graded on their teaching abilities. Still, everyone in the course is a bit nervous about it, possibly because the word "exam" now has the same effect on most people that "sabertooth tiger" must have had on neolithic man.

My Arabic has been improving slowly and subtly over the past week. One thing I've noticed is that I'm a lot faster at reading than I used to be. Although from time to time I struggle over figuring out the sounds for a word, in some cases I'm actually able to see the word as a whole, which is pretty cool.

Everyone in my class has an interesting story. One classmate is from California, has friends and family working in Hollywood, and (apparently) resembles a professional wrestler/actor who is quite popular in Egypt, so he is occasionally asked to pose for pictures. Another is only 19 but has already lived in India and Mexico and has taught in a pre-school for nearly five years. We have an anime geek who is also an Egyptologist; a Guernsey lady who not only knows one of my SOAS classmates but actually Salsa danced with him; a lady in her early 70s who has been travelling through China, India and goodness knows where else and is trying to go on to Iran from here; a studio arts teacher and grandmother of six; a devout Christian; a devout Muslim and father of three; a doctorate students researching gaze in Ancient Rome; an English (literature) teacher; a lady who claims to be born and raised in Exeter, England; and a woman who passes off as the ethnicity of every place where she travels to.

I'd better get going soon, but fortunately there's always a little time for:


العربية: الجمعة ذهبت الى بيت سحبة واكلت سمك. السبت ذهبت الى الدكتورالاسنان يوم الاحد ذهبت الى مدرس وادات وجبي

El juma thahabtu ila bayt sahiba wi akaltu samek. El sabt ila il doktur alsinan. Yum al-ahad thahabtu ila madrassa we iddat(?not sure) wajibi

On Friday I went to a friend's house and ate fish. On Saturday I went to the dentist. Sunday I went to school and (turned in) my homework.

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