Friday, 17 July 2009

Pizza or Potatoes?

I had Thursday off, i.e. I had a three-day weekend. It was decided on Wednesday that my family and I would accept my cousin's invitation to spend a couple of days at her summer house, chalet as we call it, on the North Coast of Egypt.

We left Cairo at 1.00 a.m. and arrived 4.00 a.m. Everyone there was still awake. By 'everyone' I mean the following ten people:
my cousin (hostess) + son and daughter,
another cousin, hostess' sister (+ husband and daughter),
another cousin (+ daughter),
and my two uncles (one needy and one likes to joke 'roughly', i.e. using his hands).
Add me, my mom, dad and brother and you've got fourteen people in a three bedroom house.
The more, the merrier? Well, I have to slightly agree. It was a lot of fun. And slightly disagree for some reasons you must have already guessed.

Day one:
1.00 pm. Ten people at the table having breakfast. Yes, you heard it right. Breakfast.
'So, are we having pizza or potatoes for lunch?'
'No, potatoes'
'No, pizza. You promised yesterday.'
My mom intervened now because she knew that her favorite brother wanted potatoes.
‘Ok, we'll have to design elections and take votes. A man’s vote is worth two of a woman’s or a girl’s.’
Yes, you’ve guessed right. Everyone laughed, including myself. And you’ve also guessed right, my feminist side was itching but I had to just join in the joke.
‘Listen, mama. Everyone will write what they feel like having for lunch and we draw and count. Khalas, it’s that simple.’

1.15 pm
Men are back to the front porch and women are either clearing the table, washing the dishes, or cleaning the kitchen. Me? I was doing the dishes.

1.20 pm
Tea, cake and dessert are served? = more cups and plates for me to wash. I don’t mind, though, as long as I’m doing them while my talkative cousin is eating my ear off with girly chat.

1.40 pm
Finally. I’m sitting down with everyone and having my tea.
‘I want some water to take my pills, baby.’
‘Ok, mom.’ Tea down. Go to the kitchen and bring water. Go back and sit down. Sip tea.

1.42 pm
‘Is there any more of this cake?’
‘Yes, uncle, just a minute. Don’t drink your tea yet.’ Tea down. Go to the kitchen and bring a slice of cake. Sip tea and try to sit down …

1.45 pm
‘Oh, gosh. I forgot to pray the noon prayer. How come no one reminded me? Could you bring me …’
‘… theeeee prayer mat. Sure, …’ Tea down. Go back in, look in every room for the mat.
‘Here, you go uncle.’

1.50 pm
‘Hey, girl, come and sit next to your uncle. I haven’t seen you for ages.’
‘No, no, leave her,’ my mom said. ‘Come and tell Aunt Noura what happened the other day in the kitchen.’
Tea down, sit with the women, tell them what my mom said and did the other day in the kitchen. Everyone cracks up.

1.55 pm
Tea is cold.

2.30 pm
Cleaning the chalet, i.e. women are cleaning the chalet for the afternoon. I won’t get into details but I have to tell you that there were six men around and three messy women.

3.00 pm
Two women are in the kitchen. Preparing lunch??? Whaaat?
‘Mom, I’m not even stepping into the kitchen, what are you doing here now?’ I told my mom under my breath.
‘I’m getting everything ready so that I enjoy the afternoon without worrying about it.’

I took two of the three young females in the house. One glance at them and they understood. We sneaked out with our books and i-Pods to the beach.

‘Do you think it’s OK if I lie down on my back?’ one of them asked me.
‘Of course you can, honey,’ I replied. ‘Go ahead girl, I’ll watch out for you in case a guy comes and checks your bum out.’
She laughs and rests her back on the sand. ‘Oh, that feels good.’

7.15 pm
‘Luuunch is reaaadddyyy eeevvveerrryyyyooooone,’ my cousin shouts around the house.
Where’s Ahmed? Where’s Dina? Where’s …. They keep where’s-ing until everyone was there.

8.00 pm
Men are back to the front porch and women are either clearing the table, washing the dishes, or cleaning the kitchen. Me? I was doing the dishes.

Yes, I did copy and paste from above.

‘I changed my mind, Sara, why don’t you do the dishes and I make tea and get them dessert?’
‘Cool, go ahead.’

8.20 pm
Earphones, running shoes on, back door opened, and I sneaked out. In a house full of fourteen people, you wouldn’t notice the absence of one for half and hour.

Walk, and walk and listen to music and sing. Jog for two songs, no, let them be one. Oh, gosh, first personal goal for September, exercise regularly. You’re thirty now for god’s sake. But you could still talk while jogging, it means you’re not out of breath, you see? Liar, you know you’re not as fit as you could be.

9.15 pm
Hair wet from the shower, towel on my back and tube of foot cream in hand.
‘You know, Oz Oz, I know a great hair cream that you can use to get your hair permed,’ my cousin, auntie Noura, said.
Yes, Oz Oz is the nickname this side of the family decided to give me twenty years ago. Mind you, my actual name has no “O” or “Z” but rather “N” and “R”.
‘Interesting. I’m not thinking about straightening my hair, though.’
‘It’s LE 1,500. Do you know Dalia, Shadia’s daughter, she’s got a much coarser, more difficult hair, and this cream worked well for her.’
‘Really, that’s great, but I don’t like to mess with my hair a lot.’
Ok, so now we’re over the oh-my-god-she’s-taken-the-veil-off phase into how-are-we-gonna-fix-her-curly-hair one. Take it easy! Just smile, they’ll be thinking about pizza and potatoes in a minute.
‘You know what you could also do?’ my other cousin says enthusiastically. ‘There are new creatine products. Have you heard of them?’
‘Yes, auntie, but I just think God chose for me the hair that goes well with my complexion and character,’ I replied.
‘Wise girl,’ she smiles. ‘So, what are we having tomorrow for lunch? Pizza or Potatoes?’

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Canataloupe after midnight

Took a shower, put oil replacement in hope that my hair would look the way I want it when dry. We'll see tomorrow.
Having some quiet after a long day. A/C on in my room. We have one in the house. My mom, asthmatic, didn't want one in her room because 'My chest is sensitive and I'll get sick if there's A/C in my room.' She just didn't want me to pay to get a second one installed. But where is she now?! She's sitting opposite me on my brother's bed escaping the heat and humidity in her bedroom.
She brought her pillows, water bottle, and medicine along. Translation: she's sleeping next to me tonight when my brother gets home and kicks her off his bed. My dad is lying on his back on the floor. Give him the most comfortable mattress in the world, this will always be his favorite way to rest.

Eating cantaloupe.
- 'Eh da? Where is the other slice?' mom is asking me. I know where this is going!!
+ 'No, mama. I found one slice in the fridge, and I can't have more,' I say.
- 'Have you eaten the other one?' mom asks dad.
* 'Yes, I did,' dad replies.
- 'Why did you eat it? I wanted your daughter to have it cold.'
* 'I didn't know it was for her'
+ 'Mom, please. It didn't have my name carved in it. Even if it did.. so what!'
- 'You always do this,' mom says giving dad her blaming look.
+ 'Mooom, it's nothing,' me giving her my blaming look.

This morning, I left for work around noon. It was boiling hot and humid. I went down stairs praying the car won't be boiling. Put my sunglasses on before leaving the building. Oh, my. Car shade is up behind the windshield and a small towel is covering the side window to further block the sun. I smile from ear to ear and look up to the balcony to see dad smiling back and waving goodbye. It was him as usual. He did all this in the morning.

It's been half an hour now and my dad has been telling me the same old stories over and over again. He's telling me how he and our neighbor fixed a water pipe this morning and how there was a valve missing and it turned out it had fallen in the other T-shaped pipe. What? No idea what he's talking about.
+ 'Really, dad? Interesting! How did you finally manage to get it out?'
* 'We ... bla bla bla. What are you listening to?'
+ 'Radio. Monte Carlo.'
* 'Wow, the world is a global village now. I remember when I was in the army during the 73 war, I used to spend hours trying to locate a radio wave in the desert and now you're cross-legged on your bed listening to radio online'
That's how my dad always finds a way to digress from talking about valves to war to globalization to carbohydrates to classical music in less than fifteen minutes.

Yes, mom cuts up fruit for me because she wants me to 'have it cold' and my dad shades my car for me and goes out on the balcony to see my reaction and smile in the morning.

They are both asleep now. They are both one reason I survived at some point in my life when everything felt meaningless. They never felt meaningless. Not for a second.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

02.07=30 :)

What a beautiful early hour.

02.07+156+157+158+2019+5x5 (still) = 30.

It's past midnight and it's my BIRTHDAY :D Yohoooooo. No, I'm not out celebrating, not making a cake, not treating myself to anything, yet. Instead, I'm completing Form 157 and Form 158 because I have a visa appointment at 1.00 pm in heat of 38 degrees ON my birthday and then I'm working till 9.45 pm. Life is unfair sometimes.

Photo requirements : 5x5, white background, face front, show ears, don't smile. No, they didn't say don't smile, but I decided not to just in case. Product is a 5x5 photo of me literally looking like a silent Bulldog, squint as someone once told me. I was going to be kind and say I looked like ancient Egyptian still statues, but I couldn't help picturing the squint bulldog thing.
I'm going to go out with my brother after work. I'll treat myself to a huuuge caramel cinnamon roll.

Form 156: Have you ever had any training on explosives? Check the box: [No]

On Friday, I'm going to a ladies only resort. Solaris. Sounds nice. I've never been there and have tried to contact them but no answer for some reason. But anyway, two friends and I are ging to turn up and sunbaaaathe and have lunch. I know they'll gosspic a lot, but let's ignore this part. If I decide to hang out with women who don't gossip I'll end up with male friends only.

Form 156: Are you planning to engage in any terrorist activities in the US? Check the box: [No]

Or shall I actually just go for lunch somewhere nice, go to the movies? No, Solaris would be better. Plus I smell a good blog entry coming up Friday night.

Form 2019: Two-Year-Home-Residency. Student exchange program stipulates that you spend two years of physical stay in your country upon completion of your study in the US. (NB: Getting married to an American or giving birth there does not cancel this term) Damn, that was exactly the plan. Pffff.

'I have read and understood bla bla bla.' Sign. But I can go on into a PhD program. Or rather, find a job somewhere else, save money to travel or open the bookstore I'd love to have.

I will not wait till 9.45 pm. I'll have the caramel cinnamon roll on the way to the interview after I have printed out the forms and stapled them top left, as required!!

Oh, I forgot to tell you. I just turned 30.