Odemna Shahr

April 13, 2010 at 4:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“Odemna Shahr…” That looks like the name of an eastern sorcerer of antiquity. It really means “we have a month left.”

And a couple days ago I had a little bit of a nervous break down. I made a last minute decision to go to the Zamalek – Hars alHadud (two Egyptian football clubs) match at the stadium in Alexandria with Naguib, Sabry, Jeremy, one of our dorm supervisors and his cousin. The ticket was LE 10 and I love live soccer so it wasn’t much of a decision! However I ended up napping on the microbus ride there and when we got off it was lines of inane security that made the entry process to the match I went to in Cairo all those months ago look like a picnic. I get REALLY angry when I’m reminded that I live in an authoritarianism and nobody around me seems to care. There were about twenty policemen horse-back brandishing sticks (from real clubs to literally tree branches) and waving them at the shabab (dudes) who were all trying to cram their way into the stadium. There were additionally hundreds of riot-squad equipped (shields and helmets and clubs) policemen dispersed generously. I was frisked four times a few paces apart, and still entered the stadium with a knife (the Allen-memorial Swiss army knife on my key chain). Jeremy was made to surrender his chapstick.

When we made it to our seats I was REALLY unhappy. I hadn’t felt overwhelmed like this since like October and thought it was something you just sort of go through and get over. Apparently cultural shock can be more deeply rooted than I thought. I sulked, further peeved by all the cigarette smoke, sequined jeans, and gelled hair cascading down to the soccer field in front of me. I became bitter. I entertained myself for a while counting all the females I could find (there were four), and carefully excluding the two non-muhagiba who, walking in front of the stands, elicited a HUGE uproar from the shabab. I doubled over in my chair and went to sleep. When I sleep in really unnatural circumstances, I know I’m in a funk. Three hours later the match started. It was an alright match, and when shabab are given something to do they become a little less soul-crushingly obnoxious.

I should mention that every section in the stadium was completely surrounded by ranks of the riot-squad. The entire experience was literally framed in political apathy on the part of the constituency and subjugation on the part of the incumbent, a tradition I thought I’d grown accustomed to but I guess I simply hadn’t seen in a while in force.

Returning home we rode a bus that was so packed there were boys holding onto the door frame and spilling into the street. I persisted in my crankiness.

In other news I learned from CLS that I’ll be living in Muscat, Oman from June 12th – August 14th after an orientation in Washington, DC on June 10th. This is VERY exciting to me! The only problem is that during my crisis at the football match I despaired at the prospect of another 9 weeks in the Middle East. It was a weak moment – I’m now only stoked, once more. I’ll be home on May 17th and over-socializing and eating Kraft macaroni and cheese and rootbeer and beer beer and hiking and swimming until I have to leave again 3 weeks later. Right on.

It looks like a pretty straight shot to the end, here. I’m preparing a couple things for our final talent show, all of which I’ll be able to attend this time since I’m not catching a midnight bus to Dahab with Ilanna and co. Although one does get nostalgic… Weekend after next I think I’m doing another Cairo trip, because I’ve just about recovered from the last time I went to Cairo (January).



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  1. I’ll go to BJ’s and buy a case of Sam Adams and a case of IBC and 1 box of Kraft macaroni and cheese, since it’s deeply bad for you.

  2. ack! Sorry Hima, I completely didn’t realize that you were having a bad time! Sorry about that bud. (Partially because I took your lead…and also decided to sleep.

    3la fikra–I, on the other hand, tried to amuse myself by counting the number of riot shields. Unfortunately I lost the number, but I estimated around 1,000 seated inside the stadium proper, with easily another 2-300 stationed outside when we left.

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