Sunday, August 16, 2009

Prayer and Funerals

One of the more interesting aspects of living in a Muslim country thus far has been adhan (Islamic call to prayer), which occurs five times daily. The prayers are projected from loudspeakers erected on to poles throughout the city. The first prayer begins a little after 4 am and the last one ends around 9:30ish. If you live on the top floor, listening to prayer is like surround sound, the variety of voices from the different mosques layer nicely. (video shot from our balcony overlooking our campus and neighborhood)

video

The crux of the mystery is trying to figure out whom the early prayer applies to since most Egyptians seem to be out and about caught up in rush hour traffic even at 11 pm. Let’s also consider our surrounding residents and their children roaming the neighborhood buying fruit, chicken, and smoking shisha pipes outside our compound past 2 am. They say New York never sleeps, well, Egypt make New York seem like a one-horse town tucked away somewhere in Montana. Alex is alive and kicking. In addition to the adhan factor, let’s throw vehicles and vendors (such as the onion man) both armed with loudspeakers into the mix. Continuing with noise, the random shots at night were initially unsettling. I asked a couple of veteran teachers what the sounds were mainly because they sounded like they could be artillery rockets…nope, just firecrackers they said. I wasn’t satisfied with the first two responses so after the third person said “firecrackers” I just accepted it…I’m fairly positive they don’t sell those kind back in the states. I think if I lit one in San Diego, Homeland Security would be knocking on my front door, and not Avon Lady style.

This past Friday we experienced our first Sabbath and as an added bonus a funeral, which was held across the street from our living quarters. Ramadan (month-long Islamic religious observance) is fast approaching and the city is preparing, it is the last weekend and the man at Drinkies told us that we have ONLY four days to place our orders. This news was the hot topic of discussion amongst the teachers and the admin. on the drive back to school tonight, if you snooze on the booze you may as well be living in Saudi Arabia. Next blog: pictures of the animals we eat and Drinkies revealed.

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