Saturday, April 28, 2007

Whoa!



Such is the state of my oven. It blew up last night...in a blaze of glory. I was standing right there when it happened and it freaked the living daylights out of me. It was like a bomb went off.

Now I'm left with this giant hole. Ironically, access to the oven is much easier now that I don't have to open it with the handle that gets scalding hot.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Pure Class


Is that my Dad or is that King Farouk?

If an Egyptian aristocracy still existed, my Dad would be part of it. Hmm...perhaps there's a Moroccan one he could get in on.

This is just pure class at its finest.

On the Way Down

What are they looking at?

Hmm..that's a long way down. Don't fall.


Camel, sir?

Mt. Sinai

Sunrise

Not sure who this couple was, but they made for a nice picture.


View of the church on top of the mountain.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Street Fights

Fighting on the street isn't all that uncommon here. Usually it's between two guys, but every once and a while you'll see a couple of women go at it. Not all skirmishes escalate into physical violence, mind you, but does it really make much of a difference?

Right outside my work today, two guys went at it. I could discern from the initial stages of the fight that a guy in the car almost hit some man or the man's wife. This made the pedestrian livid.

I was close enough so that I could clearly see the face of the man in the car. Talk about classic. He went from "What's the big deal?" to "Oh, it's on now" instantly. I guess the right, or wrong, were said to provoke it. The man then jumped out of the car and began yelling at the pedestrian.

This wasn't to be taken lightly, of course. The pedestrian was enraged enough to start throwing punches. People stepped in to hold the two men back, but they seemed to be doing a inadequate job, as the men kept getting at each other. In a last ditch effort, the pedestrian started hitting the car of the driver. I kept waiting for a rock to go through the windshield.

As usual, neither emerged as the victor.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

"It's Okay, I'm a Foreigner."

One of my co-workers, who does not look Egyptian, gave me a ride home last week. Before he could do that, he said, he had to pay his TV bill. This required a stop on Tahrir St...a main street notorious for its lack of parking.

That didn't stop him, mind you. He just pulled right up into an illegal place.

"I shouldn't be parking here. I'm going to get a ticket," he said.
"It's okay, I'm a foreigner. They won't do anything if I'm in the car," I replied, as if trying to convince him to park there so I would have a run-in with the Giza traffic authority.

Off he went to the building, which was literally right next to the car. Two minutes later, there was a cop, dressed in white, sauntering over to the vehicle, ticketbook in hand. He made some faces at me so I opened the door.

I started off by establishing the extent to which I spoke his native language. This seemed to puzzle him, but he proceeded to tell me that the car should not be parked where it was. Then he started asking how many dollars I had. I wasn't going to be bribing anyone on this night, so I just told him to wait five minutes. He eventually yielded to the request and walked away.

Two minutes later, he's on his way back to the car. I open the door and tell him that there is no way five minutes had elapsed. He just said how illegally the car was parked and something about dollars. I wasn't too sure what to do as this point, so I asked him what his name was. I then told him I worked in the area, which prompted the usual interrogative stream of questions. "Where in Dokki? What street? What apartment number?" He then asked if I make Egyptian pounds or dollars.

Right then, my friend came strolling out of the building. As he approached the car, I said something to him in English, which prompted a reply in English. This must've scared the cop just enough...he was now dealing with a rich Turk and a whitey.

I offered my thanks and we parted ways. Crisis averted.

Words of Wisdom

"The recent upsurge in your social life is becoming a hindrance to your efforts to become a world class footballer."

 

Thanks, Karim.

Monday, April 16, 2007

How Do You Know When the Weather is Warmer in Cairo?

Just watch for when the traffic policemen change from heat-absorbing black uniforms to heat-reflecting white uniforms.

They look like the Siberian Special Forces...or snowmen.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

How Depressing

Listening to your team get spanked by another team you despise more than anything in the world is not fun, especially when you're thousands of kilometres away.

Hopefully the boys can pick it up when they return home for two games.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Marty is Here


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Travesty

The magnitude of missing the NHL playoffs for the first time in my life has finally hit me. This is serious business for a Canadian.

Internet radio will have to do, I suppose.

 

GO FLAMES!!!!!!!!

Abu Simbel


I wonder what this guy was thinking.

I Wasn't Happy About Going Down There...

without a legitimate ISIC Student card. With about 8 or 9 temples and tombs to enter, entrance fees promised to be outrageous. Unless, of course, you presented the card to get your 50% discount.

Not that I deserved any discounts. My apathy towards the subject, I had like 4 weeks to figure something out, was legendary. I kept looking at my fake, expired card that was of some Czech guy (good thing all white people look the same) and thinking, "This will do fine." Oh, but I was still nervous that the ticket sellers in Upper Egypt would be among the more serious of their brethren.

So off I went, equipped with one fake ISIC card and one legitimate, but expired, University of Calgary card. I was already starting to come up with my story:

"Well, my situation is rather complicated. I was born to Czech parents, but raised in Canada. I don't know a word of Czech, nor do I have any connection to my roots. I can owe this to my parents' fierce rejection of the Communist regime--how could anyone enjoy the Prague Spring? They snuck out of the country via hay-cart, of all transportation modes, only to reach Austria three weeks later and after multiple pokes by vicious border guards and their bayonets. 

My parents then embarked on an intense Canadianization program. Six weeks in the arctic, six weeks on the east coast, six on the prairies, six in Toronto (*shudder*), six in conservative country, and six on the west coast. Oh, and they spent a few weeks in Quebec, but couldn't take it anymore and left early.

Then I was born. I didn't find out my parents were Czech until I was 17. At that point I rebelled by running away in a proverbial hay-cart of my own...to the Czech Republic. One lesson I learned was that hay-carts do not float. Perhaps this was a product of my Canadian education?

After enrolling in University of Prague, I chose to study Economics. My name changed to avoid any trouble with the Czech Immigration Ministry. Unfortunately, my parents had connections in the secret police. Yes, they still operate and they can still deport you faster than a Czech pilsner can be guzzled.

I found myself back in Canada, in Calgary. There I enrolled at the University of Calgary to finish my Econ degree. I still have yet to see my parents and will never forgive them for sending the secret police after me. Trust me, these guys have an imagination when it comes to breaking into one's house and dragging said person's body out the back door.

And now I am in Egypt. Any questions?"

Fortunately, I never had to resort to this. I managed to get into every attraction with my fake card. It took some cajoling, but I did it. At one point, my fake ISIC card was left with a guide, so I had to resort to my UofC card. Sure, I felt a bit dirty, but I saved some 200 LE.

Oh, and no, Blanka, I didn't get mugged.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Luxor Temple


To anyone going there, it's best at night.

What Do Luxor and a Cairo Street Mugging Have in Common?

Going to Luxor/Aswan as a tourist is akin to a Cairo street mugging after withdrawing money from an ATM: you walk away with a lot less money and fairly positive that you don't want to experience anything like it again.

Hmm...I should clarify. I wouldn't want people thinking that Luxor/Aswan are not good places to go to.

Here's the thing: I don't like being a tourist or doing anything commonly associated with tourists. Things like being herded around in buses, having to listen to tour guides, paying out the ass for entrance fees. Not exactly my cup of tea.

Unfortunately, this is what Luxor and Aswan are. You get in a bus, get driven to a site, pay an egregious fee (for someone making local wages), get "guided" around the site, get back on the bus, and then get taken to the next place. Oh, and did I mention the stop at the alabaster factory?

The monuments themselves, however, were simply amazing. To think that what the Egyptians built 3000-4000 years ago is still in rather amazing condition is remarkable, if not unbelievable. And then there is the fact that two tombs were literally chopped up and moved so as to avoid being destroyed by the impending floods that the Aswan/High Dams would cause after being built.

Even the towns are pretty cool. Luxor is built around a temple and one of its streets leads right up to another. Aswan is a bit more developed and you can sense the Russian influence right away (they helped the Egyptians build the High Dam). Ironically, however, not many Russians go there so nothing is written in Russian. Instead, the proof is in the planning. I wouldn't be surprised if Aswan had more gardens than Cairo.

Both cities hug the Nile as well, so there are some spectacular views and relaxing feluca rides to be had. Such a welcome change from the banks of the Cairean Nile.

Ultimately, the trip was great, however I would really like to go back there without having to subjugate myself to the evil tourist industry.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Random Canadian Facts: Special Nay-Nay's Birthday Edition

What better way to celebrate Nay-Nay's birthday than with a post about Canada's birthday.

So, Nay-Nay, with your increased birthday wisdom, did you know that Canada was officially born on July 1st, 1867?

Coincidence or not, that day is awfully close to its American counterpart, Independence Day, on July 4th. Is it that we're so similar that we had to propagate country status at the same time of year? Perhaps.

Anyway, I won't bore you with details of confederation, but rather with details of the national holiday itself. It was only in 1879 that it was established as a national holiday. But, instead of the familiar and present "Canada Day" moniker, it was termed "Dominion Day."

Canadians tended not to celebrate this "Dominion Day" for quite a while after 1879. There was a 50th anniversary celebration in 1917 dedicated to the soldiers fighting in Europe and a 60th in 1927. Apparently we were interested in Diamond Jubilees at the time.

In 1958, our beloved government instituted an annual observance. It consisted of four things: Trooping the Colours, a sunset ceremony, a mass band display, and fireworks. The Queen herself was able to witness such grandeur in 1867 for the 100th year anniversary.

The celebration changed once again in 1968, and was even cancelled for a year in 1976. Finally in 1982, we sacked the name "Dominion Day" and decided to go with "Canada Day."

Information from (http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/cpsc-ccsp/jfa-ha/canada_e.cfm)

Monday, April 02, 2007

She's Goin' Down


What a precarious situation Natasha has found herself in. How will she get out of it?