Monday, May 3, 2010

Chili, Cairo, and Cabbies

The week started off innocently enough with the Booz-Allen chili cook off. Booz-Allen is the OG of consulting firms and has an office here in Alex. Many of their employees serve as board members to our school; the company does a lot for the community and Schutz. Our own Dr. Joyce (school Director) entered the competition and although her delicious New Mexico hatch chili didn't win best tasting she did come away with the best presentation award. "Mommy mommy why is my ass still on fine" won best name and spiciest.

One of the traditions at school is the Senior Sale-literally seniors are sold to those willing to fork out the cash. In return you get ownership of the student for two lunch periods. Some bidders pay upwards of $200 for the more popular ones. If you are lucky enough to own a senior, you may use them at will. From what I witnessed the end result resembles a mild-form of hazing. Of course, this is all for a good cause, the funds collected go towards the senior trip in late May.

One of my students showing off one of her many talents. Another girl had to wear a winter parka and stand in the sun. A few teachers were surprised with a free car wash and the stairs leading up to our apartment got a good cleaning. There was plenty of ruckus to go around.

Some masters made their seniors wear and parade their not so flattering outfits.

On Thursday night Dr. Joyce had several of us bused over to her place for game night and an evening of debauchery. I brought an old family favorite Shut The Box aka Canoga and played a couple of hours tossing dice and flipping numbers. There were some stakes involved and Darth Seth walked away a few bucks richer. On Friday, Huck Finn and Jill Milk with newly born Elanor were heading down to Cairo to condition the baby for summer traveling...Ana and I weren't shy in asking them if we could tagalong. 

While Ana and I were waiting for our bagels at the cafe next to our hotel I was thumbing through an ex-pat magazine and found an article on the last tarboosh/fez manufactures left in Egypt. The shop is located in the non-tourist market area of the Khan al-Khalili so we thought it sounded like a good afternoon cultural excursion.

The owner Gehad in the back of the store. His family has owned the shop for many generations and the machinery used is over 200 years old. There is still a great debate on the origins of the tarboosh/fez; Morocco, Turkey, and Egypt all make claim to be the inventors. The term fez comes from the old imperial capital Fez in Morocco because of the dyes used for the tarboosh.   

A tarboosh and its' case. Gehad said it is over 100 years old. 

The bamboo lining to the higher quality hats. 

Wearing the tarboosh isn't exclusively for men, Gehad's shop caters to women as well. Here Ana is showing off the brown model.

There is heat involved. Though we didn't get a chance to see one being made. 

Molds for the different sizes.

The front of the shop.

There is one sewing machine in the joint and this is the man that does all the stitching. Tea and cigarettes- the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of champions.

The Pee-pee shirt.

Spring is in full effect in Cairo.

Buildings outside our hotel. 

More Cairo.

Yet, one last one.

Sporting the tarboosh. For a second I though it would be fun to wear this out to the Mexican Consulate in Maadi (south of Cairo) for the Dia de Los Ninos event that we invited ourselves to. Yes, it was a weekend of unapologetic crashing. The event was fun and we were doused with cheek kisses left and right by all the attendees. We made some new friends and hopefully got on the list for future events. There was even a couple who live in Alex that want to come over and eat our bacon and drink my beer. Cool.

View of the Nile.

A typical top of a building. 

Our visit to Cairo was a one-nighter. Eleanor was an excellent traveler; she didn't utter a sound going over all the speed bumps and curves along the way. She is now ready for the big league-the flight back to the states in June. Saturday night was spent at the Sayed Darwish Theatre watching La Bayadere Ballet performed by Opera and Ballet Theatre of the Republic of Belarus. This time I was smart and wore a tie, that wasn't the case when we went to see the Nutcracker last December in Cairo. I had to tuck in my shirt and borrow a hideous tie, I looked rather unflattering. The three-act ballet ended being a bit long for a school night but it was impressive. Ana counted 21 ballerinas on stage dancing in unison during the last act, a beautiful sight. One the ride home along the Corniche we heard a thud and screeching, Ana turned around and saw a body spinning in the road. Several people are killed on the Corniche each week, it was a reminder not to temp fate. 

After a meeting at the American center last week, I caught a cab with Robyn (another committee member) and her friend Liz. The cabbie was tripped out that the two of them knew Arabic and started to accuse us of coming to his country and taking Egyptian jobs. His tone was very anti-American; a rarity since most Egyptians are friendly and kind to westerners. It felt like he was trolling for an argument. After dropping Robyn and Liz off, he asked me if I was Muslim and how much money I made. He ended the conversation and ride by making a comment that Obama was a Muslim then kicked me out of the cab near my destination.    

1 comment:

  1. What??? Hatch Chili didn't win???? That's bullshit!