Monthly Archives: September 2011

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Today is a very very sad day

The day when I wish I lived close to home, to my family and my old friends. I am devastated

I promised myself to write for this blog every day. And I am doing this right now, even though it is not the best day for it. I just know that I am a perfect procrastinator and if I skip a day I will start skipping more.

I believe in Darwin. She believed in god. Where is this bloody god if she is gone? The sweetest girl I knew, always smiling and happy. I will go to a church tonight and put a candle for her and her god that did not protect her.

hard to understand, comprehend and digest.

Living abroad and being on your own means being a survivor. Surviving every day, avoiding dangers on streets and roads, staying safe. Safe for everyone you know. For your family and friends. My heart is broken into million pieces and these pieces are scattered across the world with my little sunshine people. But I am 13 flight hours away from where my heart belongs to. Kilometers and days … Where the sun is still mild and autumn is the best. Where you can see the Japanese sea wherever you are … Where tigers walk in mountainous forests and the sea freezes in winter.

There will be no more art house movie nights with you, picture exchanges, tea breaks and chit chats on skype. No more anything. Gone.

Beeping language

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Ezbet El Nakhl "main bus station" by Flickr user Creap

I was planning to write this for some time.

I am trying to get the philosophy of drivers here. And I fail miserably. Hmm

Like I said before I live on the 14th floor and could not fall asleep the first night I arrive. I am used to quiet Budapest with my windows facing the courtyard and not the busy street. Well to be honest there are not that many busy streets in BP. My sister’s flat in Moscow is on the 23rd floor and I remember hearing the road as well. However, Moscow was different. Drivers in Moscow do not beep in vain and for no particular reason. Here in Cairo, I believe the drivers have their own secret language of beeping. I have no idea why they “talk” to each other in such a manner. Why someone needs to beep when standing in a huge traffic jam. The traffic itself is simply insane here. Sometimes drivers decide to make a U turn on the one way road and go against the main traffic. Hmm… ME not understanding that.

I don’t know how the car operates, how to drive it and stuff. Well I never needed to learn this stuff. I prefer using public transportation or biking somewhere: first of all it is eco-friendly in many ways and saves you from drinking and driving at night. The level of pollution in Cairo is high since many people have very old cars that do not function properly. Well, everyone around me says that I should not use the public transportation here due to high risk of sexual harassment. I am sure one day I will try it out.

People generally beep at me on streets – no surprise, I am a foreign woman with ginger hair wearing heels. Taxi drivers try to give me a ride and beep; horny men also try to attract my attention all the way. But there is no mercy for them: Gotan Project in my headphones on maximum, dancing tango in my head. I am thinking of my 4 Lamas in Lima and how peaceful it might be over there. [Hello Alex!!!] I still have zero camels on my account here – or men are not offering camels for marriage any longer? : )

Internet issues

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egyptian internet point by Flickr user Simona Scolari

I am an addict. I know that, everyone is aware of that. The first thing I do in the morning? Check my Facebook and LiveJournal. I can spend hours reading my LiveJournal news feed – that’s how I receive news from Mother-Russia and beloved Vladivostok.

Here … I have some issues. I have a USB internet with 10 gb that is not enough, clearly. LiveJournal pictures, Facebook pages and Vkontakte music have eaten this entire internet in less than a week. Ugh.

I am CUT OUT !!!!

I need to get WiFi. It seems like a difficult task. Something is wrong with the area I live in – they cannot provide the connection for me. So I feel like I am trapped. I feared this situation so much before coming here. I know it sounds ridiculous; however, internet became my real life. I cannot download new books to my Stanza, I cannot keep writing my media report and new articles. I am useless now.

Well if I was in Budapest I would have gone to any coffee shop or my university and would sit there for ages surfing the net. I am falling behind you guys: no Boardwalk Empire or the Good Wife for me. New seasons have started and I desperately want to see it all and I can’t. It might sound stupid and silly, but that’s my drug addicted breakage time. I might even lay on my bed all cranky and addicted. It is like living without my regular three cups of coffee per day. I know, I know, Lucas would call it “First World Problems” – I call it addiction.

Someone else might say: “Whatever makes you happy” And bloody internet makes me happy.

Sugar Cane and Hungarian words in my head

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Sugar Cane Juice by Flickr user indi.ca

I am adapting. Slowly but sure thing I am. I hope my English will not get retarded here. I started using local accent for fun, I hope that this mocking exercise will not turn into my everyday language. I am good in picking up accents.

In some café: I would like to get some peach smoothie pls. – “Bich Zmuuuuziiiiie?????” – hahaha

“Ze prinder iz nod workingggg” – the printer is not working

I started saying “Halas” – that means something like stop or enough! I already feel that there will be more words of this kind that I will start using soon.

Hungarian words are constantly popping out. When I go to any store or buy anything in some small street shops I always want to say thank you in Hungarian. The problem is that Hungarian thank you or “köszi” means pussy in Arabic, which is somewhat misleading. So that’s why I got a very strange reaction from sales people and in restaurants. Two years of living in Magyarország do not go away that fast. I still try to be nice and say viszlát on my way out of any store.

What I love here is the amount of exotic fruit. So today I tried the freshly quizzed sugar cane juice – never tried such a thing before. I have a feeling that I am drinking a sweet corn with a straw. Incredibly sweet and taste like a pure starch. I am drinking this small glass for two hours already. I remember living in another country in the Middle East and we loved buying fresh orange juice before going to the local beach. Sweet memories. I hope they have orange juice on the beaches here as well.

Update: they said I had to drink this sugary thing asap since it goes bad really fast. Ugh. Waaaay to sweet

Cairo: food

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Dinner at Bondokah by Flickr user bastique

Food is one of the most important things in my life. I love cooking and trying new things. However, I am not open for some exotic food, such as marinated cockroaches or anything like this. My favorite food is Thai – I could never get bored eating it and trying to cook it as well.

Hummus is among other things that I extremely love. I tried it in London for the first time and even thought this hummus was from TESCO it was one of the best that I’ve tried in my life. Or maybe it is just my memory tells me that it was good and I did not have anything to compare it with. Budapest has the great Israeli Hummus bar. Hummus plates made me the happiest girl in the city: different vegetables and meat mixed with falafel and tahina. On top of this I always ordered LimoNana: lemonade with mint. So now I am here, in Cairo. And I am on a mission, called a hummus hunt. I have not found that many hummus places here so far. Well at least I dunno any in my area of this giant city, OR my work colleagues just prefer ordering a delivery of some junk-half-food/ half-chemicals.

The city seems more expensive than Budapest, which is surprising. Central market in Budapest is simply amazing: I could find anything there and the prices were reasonable. If I go to any local market I will get ripped off immediately. And the shop next to my house does not have the magical hummus. Hmm… well it turned out that everyone is making it at home and don’t really buy it in stores.

I remember having constant fights with waiters in Budapest. One of my good friends is “lactarded” – how he calls himself, he is allergic to milk. Hungarian cuisine is impossible to imagine without sour cream – they put it almost everywhere. We had our favorite food place in the city center, however, this place was also strange. Even though the menu remained the same for months, the food was different every day. If you order curry one day and it would be mild, the next day the same exact curry from the menu might have a totally different taste and texture. We tried to figure out the trick and it still remains a mystery.

Once we asked not to put the sour cream at all and the waiter responded that it would be like Mojito without mint. Another time my sweetest lactarded friend ordered curry and asked a waiter to put sour cream on the side. What did he get? Chicken on the side and the bloody sour cream on top of the curry plate.

Here in Egypt we went to a grill place once, the average dish there cost about 20 USD. So it was supposed to be a decent place. However, we had some bizarre experience in there. Important fact: male-female ratio was 3 to 2. I and my friend ordered some shrimp/fish grill. Well, I love fish endlessly. The waiter was really slow and did not bring all the food at once, but in long intervals. The fish was not edible at all: too much salt and rosemary.

So that’s when the fun part started: my other female friend started complaining and wanted to return the food. It would be ok if only a waiter had some tact. I thought that getting the same dish would be a terrible idea, so we decided to cancel it at all. The male waiter was speaking to our male friends only. The waiter totally ignored the fact that WE (women) were unhappy with the food. This situation totally pissed us off and we started a fight. So the evening was eventually ruined with all this fighting stuff.

However, yesterday night was very sweet. We went to smoke hookah at Sequoia by the Nile. The place and the view were simply incredible. That’s the type of places that I love: great interior design, nice waiters, good food and a fun
company.

I miss Budapest and our endless conversations about everything and nothing.

Sequoia: Open-Air Dining in Cairo

Accident in the airport

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So we went to the airport to meet a friend. Sure thing, locals will never get tired looking at me: no matter what I wear.

Cairo airport by Flickr user archer10 (Dennis)

And I was with a good male friend of mine there. To cut the long story short, we were standing outside smoking. The night was hot, the air was humid, people were all running around like crazy, elements of insanity are always there: next to you. Nice evening, I hugged this friend [I know that this is provoking] and he seemed he was uncomfortable with me doing this in public: tried to gently move away. Ah well, who cares? I don’t!!!!!

I knew that people were watching, they all do, but I kept hugging the guy. So it all ended up in a public scandal. Out of the blue a guy next to us started yelling at my friend in Arabic. Hilarious! He was telling him something like: “When I see a sin, I tell it is a sin. Look at her! What is she doing? This behavior is unacceptable!” and a lot of other blah-blah things (as if we had sex in public or something). So my friend freaked out and yelled something in return. Clearly I am a woman, so no one talks to me. WTF???? This insane person was talking to my male friend only and totally ignored the fact that it was ME who started this entire thing up. Haha. Well I think that would be more logical to tell me that I was wrong and not to my friend. But, again, I am a woman = some little retarded creature. The guy who works at the airport tried to reason with the angry man and apologized for his behavior. That was sweet of him.

After everything was over, and we left the battle field, my male friend was extremely pissed, while I was extremely excited. This whole thing kept me thinking. Norms and rules that shaped in a long period of time are not that easy to break and change. However, it does not mean that equality and tolerance are something impossible in this society. Who will change it, if not us? Not us, here and now? Feminist movement did not start up in one day and did not achieve a lot in one day either. It is a long and sometimes painful process for the society.

Cairo: environment

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Street in Cairo by Flickr use furibond

This city is not a paradise with an eco-friendly environment. Trash is everywhere and people do not seem to care about it: they throw litter on streets. It seems like plastic bags are everywhere. If I go to a peanut shop to buy some pistachios a salesman would definitely give me a plastic bag for my tiny portion of nuts. So now they know that I don’t take their plastic bags, but carry my own blue textile bag with me.

There are special people in any supermarket that put your food in plastic bags. I don’t know what logic they follow, but they may use an incredible amount of plastic bags so that you could not even carry them on your own. And plastic bags are not eco-friendly here either. If you go shopping in Budapest every plastic bag you buy says that it is eco friendly and is produced with some special materials. These technologies could improve the litter situation here, but ah well… it does not seem to happen soon.

There are way too many cars in this town, majority of them are old and don’t function properly: they produce some black smog and terrible noises. Bike lanes? Forget about it! Walking on foot is another crazy an illogical idea. Every house has its own pavement and there are huge piles of sand between the houses or simply on your way – on what is supposed to be a pavement. Pavements have different heights and there is no common style that they follow. People prefer walking on roads rather than using pavements. And this contributes to the overall craziness of the traffic situation in town.

I think that drivers in Budapest are the most polite drivers I’ve ever met in my life. They will always stop when they see a person putting his foot on the road. Sometimes they are even way too polite and you can find yourself standing in front of the car trying to let the car pass you by and the driver wants for you to cross the street, even if there is no zebra. Nice.