We are more aware every day that our time here is drawing to a close. On 3 June, we should be in our house in New Haven by mid-evening. We all have our ways of dealing with anxiety. Mine is making lists and knocking off things; Harris’s is to work even harder on his manuscript. For example, we have lots of stuff to ship back (the alabaster lamp collection in particular) and lots of stuff to give our buddies Sarah and Mark and Emad. So I’ve written a Word document with everything on it to sell, give, or trash. It gives the illusion of control.
I have also filed my final report for Fulbright/IIE, and have written my conference paper for the 10 May Fulbright conference. Graded everything I have to grade, and am working on the last classes for the term. Next comes a round of Skype calls for everything we need to have done once we return (from the dentist to taxes).
|A peep from our front balcony at Road 200. Spring has sprung, leaves are out.|
Harris gave another brilliant talk on Monday at AUC, a lecture called “Are You Popular? Dating, Gender, and the Double-Coding of Rock and Roll.” It’s based on an article coming out in December, ISA, and Harris the techie embedded musical examples and films into his PowerPoint. He also registers an official sneer at PowerPoint since it kept losing his links; as one friend, Dave Tawfik, put it, “I bet Bill Gates sits around and tries to think of ways to make speakers even more anxious before talks” (put it in a British accent and it’s funnier!).
|The poster for Harris's talk|
We had a wonderful dinner at the gorgeous house in Giza where Tarek and Hend Swelim live. Our buddies Sarah Mineart and Chris Evens came along (poor Mark is mired in directing the soon-to-open “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at AUC, and Katherine is traveling). Tarek and Hend live in a compound they built years ago with their extended family, when north Giza was very quiet (it’s a lot busier now). Their house combines wonderful furniture and rugs with gorgeous woodwork from Hend’s factory (which makes inlaid and decorative wood for the best hotels, and some lucky homeowners). Drinks and hors d’oeuvres by the pool began an evening that lasted until way past our usual bedtimes!
|Chris Evens, Harris, and Sarah strike a pose by the pool at Tarek and Hend's|
|Tarek, Sarah, Harris, Farida (Tarek and Hend's daughter), and Chris at dinner|
|Tarek, Harris, Farida, Hend, and Chris|
|The two dudes, Harris and Chris|
|The two hens, Mel and Sarah|
|Four happy guests!|
|Tarek and Hend's house at night; add scents of flowers and a soft breeze|
Speaking of lists, here’s a couple:
Things I will miss Things I won’t miss
The Arab Spring The Arab Summer
The calls to prayer The loud, really early calls to prayer
Koshery and kefta Having to wash produce with Clorox
Hanging out laundry Hanging out laundry
Walking everywhere Filthy shoes from walking everywhere
Housekeeper who cooks I really will miss Nagat!
Everything delivered Gonna really miss this, too
Driver Not ever driving
How different everything is Being Other; patriarchy; feeling isolated
Amazing freshly squeezed juice Gonna really miss this, too
My students Lazy entitled students (not many but a few)
Europe’s proximity Europe’s prices
Diving in the Red Sea Freezing while diving the Red Sea
Lively streets Constant honking, fear of getting run over
Seeing the Pyramids while at the gym Nothing even comes close
Nifty-looking scarves Having to cover up since I’m female
Learning the money Carrying a zipped bag to hold lotsa bills
Paying attention to politics Reading about fundamentalist candidates
Witnessing history Witnessing some tragic history
Bargaining for stuff Students bargaining for grades
Not fretting too hard if I run late Everyone runs late
Luxor XXX beer The calories from Luxor XXX
Our beautiful objects in the flat Living in a noisy flat
Food at China Winds No comparison
There’s a chance we will come back, but time (and politics) will tell. The political situation here changes every day. We are hopeful that the elections will place someone moderate in the Presidential chair, but there’s no guarantee.
In filling out my Fulbright questionnaire, I thought hard about this past 9 months. It’s been great for us as a couple—I’ve been so proud of Harris, and we got to spend a lot of time together—and it’s made us want to do more academic travel to unusual places. I also am very proud of being a Fulbrighter, and hope that my work here has reflected well on the United States. I am even proud of just doing this, taking a flyer and going to a famously unstable country in transition, where life is different in pretty much every respect, and not just doing it but thriving. Thank you, Fulbright, for opening this door and allowing both of us to learn and grow and thank you, AUC. It has not been a bowl of cherries every minute but I would not trade it for anything.
Dinner tonight at the Winds with Chris as part of our mission to eat everything there. Grading, class prep; and our best to everyone.