Monday, August 6, 2007

Frostbite imminent?

Right now, my hands are freezing. They're so cold, in fact, that they're numb. I'm shivering, and my nose is starting to run just a bit.

Yes, I'm still in Egypt.

Here's what's going on: right now I'm in one of the many modern, Western-style cafes scattered through Cairo (and Mohandessin in particular). This one, Macchiato, offers excellent and reliable WiFi, friendly staff, and apparently the best iced latte in Cairo. They're also bokers for tech: every wall, and several of the tables, feature flat screen televisions, each of which can be set to its own station via a remote control handed out on arrival. It also has quite effective and heavily-used AC, which is why my hands are shaking as I type this.

I'm writing here because as occasionally happens, my internet is out. Since the internet is my job, at these points I just have to suck it up and head out to a cafe (almost always Macchiato, they're used to me and don't mind if I mooch off of their Wifi for 6-7 hours while buying no more than a cup of coffee or two and perhaps a bite to eat. Tonight I had the minestrone soup, which on its own is poor-to-middlin but becomes a must-try because of the absolutely fantastic breads that accompany it).

My phone was thankfully retrieved, and I was also able to secure the extension to my visa, which is why I'd gone to Mogamma yesterday in the first place.

Arabic is going well, today we learned how to construct a versioon of the past tense, specifically kan + b-verbs. Normally, b-verbs indicate present tense, as in:

انا باروح القهره
ana bAruH al-Qahira
I go (am going) to Cairo

The kan كان verb is the "to be" verb which is normally not usually; usually you just say the sentence without the "to be" verb, leading to sentences like:

إنت مجنون
inta magnun
literally, You crazy meaning You [are] crazy

But you sometimes use kan كان for other tenses and times and contexts. In this case, you use kan in the past tense with the b-verb to indicate the past continous (i.e. something in the past that happened all the time or regularly):

في امريكا، ابا كنت باسوق كل طهم
fi amerika, ana kunt bAsuq kul yom
In America, I drove every day

Coming up soon (hopefully): simple past. And not a moment too soon: right now I'm sort of making it up and I'm sure I'm getting it wrong constantly.

Oh, and I learned how to say, "I lost...". Many, that would have been useful yesterday. The sentence, for posterity, is (I think):

انا ضيعت مهبايل لي
ana Deyy3at mobile-li
I lost my mobile

Once I have that sentence down, and a few others, I'm seriously thinking of compiling an ADHD Egyptian Arabic phrasebook. You just can't find phrases like, "I think I left my X here", "Sorry I'm late", "Please excuse the mess", and "What was I supposed to be doing again?" in your average phrasebook.

1 comment:

Aunt A said...

Hi Jordan.
I assume you are freezing because the air conditioning is so good at the cafe.
Glad to hear u got yr mobile back - ask yr mom about her lost mobile and the man w/ rabbit ears on his hat!
Aunt A