Monday, February 15, 2010

Random notes and the crazy ass taxi driver

One thing we are learning while living in Egypt is the art of flexibility and that time is only a state of mind. Back in the states if I drove anywhere-be it across town, up to LA, through the Rocky Mountains, pretty much any destination, I could accurately calculate the amount of time it will take to get from point A to point B. It just comes down to a simple formula of time, distance, and speed. I've discontinued this tried and true formula almost six months ago. Donkey carts, traffic jams, fruit vendors, pedestrians, are now factored into the equation, but more importantly the trump card of them all is the phrase “inshallah” (lit. God willing).

A Sunday's fisherman

I went to the hospital a couple of weeks ago for a minor lung infection, the doctor gave me some medication and told me “you should be better in a week… inshallah .“ I don’t know about you, but when you visit a doctor you want to leave filled with optimism and not factor fatalism into your recovery. What if your relationship with God has been a little rocky and then your hear that you’ll only get better if God wills it. This kind of news doesn’t give you much hope. Maybe God will allow you get better only to get run over by a donkey cart transporting steroid sized cauliflower a week after you’re on the mend. There is a dicho that reads “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

Sidi Bisher

Speaking of getting hit by moving vehicles, last night was a rare taxi ride. You could say our driver was a bit hyper focused on getting us to our destination operating under the instructions “kill them all, let God sort ‘em out.” If you have seen old footage of the big wave surfers and how they reach out and touch the waves they are riding-as to establish some sort of organic connection; to become one with it. That was sort of like our driver, but substitute waves for other cars on the road as he touched at least a dozen or so while weaving in and out of traffic, perhaps it was an act of pushing them out of the way. I was fortunate enough to have access to an “oh shit!” handle to grab on to for the majority of the ride, and I bet commuters in the cars next to us held on to theirs. The icing was when he would yell at other drivers after cutting them off and making them almost crash. As fate would have it, a pedestrian did make the error in assuming that our cab was going to stop or slow down and allow him to cross the street. That was wishful thinking. The impact was minimal, but it was enough to upset the man who stood back up and walked over to give our driver a piece of mind. Instead the victim was reprimanded. The guy then tried to get into the front seat and was pushed off as the cabby. Happy Valentine’s Day to you sir!

Flier on the street

Valentine’s Day dinner was more like a Thanksgiving meal. The kitchen staff made us a delicious turkey with all the fixings including red wine. Afterwards we attended a Rotary Club sponsored VD fundraiser concert at the Bibliotheca. The two hour event featured an orchestra, vocalists, and choir performances. I have to say I was a little thrown off by the two John Denver numbers “Annie’s Song” and “Perhaps Love” all that was missing was shag carpet and wood panel walls to give it the full-on 70’s effect. The Denver songs were just a teaser to wet our appetite for Francis Lai’s “Love Story” and Barbara Streisand’s “Tell Him” I thought about walking over to coat check to see if they had a bullet with my name on it. The meat and potatoes of the event were the musician and the conductor who constantly turned to the audience to show disapproval to the endless chatter. The French and Arabic songs were the best of the bunch and the crowd favorites. Overall it was quite an enjoyable evening.

Hops hops hops

Huck Finn and I brewed our last batch of Islamic Pale Ale this weekend. It is tradition to sample our previous efforts while grooming the predecessor. Our choice this time around is based off Russian River’s Pliny of Elder. We added over a pound of hops hoping to push the IBU (International Bitterness Units) well past 100. Our Green Flash West Coast IPA clone is about history, sigh.

Huck Finn pouring the medicine

It doesn't get any better than this

We saw our first dead cat on the road and that is pretty remarkable. On average, once we leave the compound we encounter at least 50 cats in any given outing. You think I'm exaggerating? Bite your tongue and back off! There is no truer statement in that the streets in Alex are littered with felines, hell our campus has a sizable army of them. They do provide useful services such as rodent control and sex education for the kiddies.

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