Monday, 30 July 2012

Picture: Lonely man at Spitfire Bar in Alexandria

Spitfire Bar
He was there all evening. All by himself.
Ordered two beers at a time. Must have had a hard day/week/month/year/life.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Teaching in Egypt (14): Let's talk about atheism


A friend recently wrote an interesting article on atheism in Egypt. Always on the lookout for interesting subjects to discuss in class, I decided to read it with my level 5 students. 

Egyptian culture is drenched in religion, so atheism is a very sensitive topic. I was fully aware of that before presenting them with the article, but I hadn't anticipated their reaction would be this strong. 

One student tried to convince me that talking about atheism could get us arrested, which in turn really worried another student. "I think you're mistaken", I said. "Egypt has a law against blasphemy. That means you can't insult religion. Talking about alternatives to religion, which is what we are doing when we are discussing atheism, is most definitely not blasphemy." 

Now, this particular student is of the 'the sky is green, because I say it is' variety. He once tried to argue that Melbourne is the capital of Australia (no). Because, you know, 'he had read that somewhere'. He also claimed Celine Dion is from England (nope) and Margaret Thatcher is dead (not yet!). He is a walking collection of fallacies and beyond stubborn at that. 

It took me about 15 minutes and googling Egypt's blasphemy law to convince him it was ok to both read and discuss this article. 

Reading the actual article took up almost the whole class, because it was chock full of words they had never heard of, such as 'secularism', 'dogma', 'taboo' and 'legislation'. 

When we were finally done, and I asked them for their opinion, mister know-it-all was of course the first to speak up. "This must be written by a Westerner. An Egyptian would never have such ridiculous thoughts."

Monday, 23 July 2012

Somebody please buy me this book

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.


Saturday, 21 July 2012

Friday, 20 July 2012

Me. Naked. On video.

For those of you that have always wanted to see me naked, now you can. Great way to start the holy month of Ramadan, I'd say.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Is the internet driving us crazy?

We may appear to be choosing to use this technology, but in fact we are being dragged to it by the potential of short-term rewards. Every ping could be social, sexual, or professional opportunity, and we get a mini-reward, a squirt of dopamine, for answering the bell.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Picture post (17): Playing games

Sheesha man at the tawla tablePlaying games 5Playing games 6Playing games 7Playing games 10Playing games 11
Playing games 1Playing games 2Playing games 3Playing games 4Playing games 6

Playing games, a set on Flickr.

Popular pastimes in the many outdoor coffeehouses in Cairo are backgammon (around here known as 'tawla') and dominos. A friend needed an image to go with an article he's writing, so I went on a photo mission. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Two things I hate about freelancing

1. One week I'm trying to live of off 5LE, the next I'm proverbially swimming in money. Now, if everybody would just pay their bills on time, so could I.

2. Getting my ideas turned down.
Although being turned down is always better than not getting a reply at all and feeling like your emails are all disappearing into some kind of vortex to a parallel universe, comments along the lines of 'try and be more creative' and 'we covered that idea months ago' are not exactly good for my ego.

Will work for food. 

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Picture Post (16): End Sexual Harassment Protest

End Sexual Harassment ProtestEnd Sexual Harassment ProtestEnd Sexual Harassment ProtestEnd Sexual Harassment ProtestEnd Sexual Harassment ProtestEnd Sexual Harassment Protest
End Sexual Harassment Protest

End Sexual Harassment Protest, a set on Flickr.

As you can see from the pictures above, yesterday's protest in Tahrir square against sexual harassment was a bit of a sad affair. There were far more men than women, and far more foreign women than Egyptian women. There were about fifty attendees in total, most of them (Egyptian) men and photographers/journalists.

An American journalist I talked to didn't seem to think this posed a problem. "Anyone who shows up to show support is valuable, whether they are Egyptian or not."

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Quote of the day (5): 'stop raping my language!'

"These stupid Egyptians need to stop verbally raping the Arabic language."

Source: my Arabic teacher. He doesn't really like Egypt. 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Teaching in Egypt (13): 'Hey, update your blog!'

A question I often get asked in regards to these 'Teaching in Egypt' blog posts is: 'Don't you get in trouble for it?'. Surprisingly, no. Some of my students read this blog and they curiously seem to enjoy me poking fun at them.

Last night was the first lesson of the new course, and after doing the introductions my new students all got to ask me one question. Generally, these are always the same: "Are you married?", "Do you have a boyfriend?", "How old are you?", "Where do you live?", etc.