Ramadan is still going on. All bars and night clubs are closed during this month. The alcohol shops are on forced vacation. ... still there is some fun continuing during Ramadan: football!
Last week I went to the semi final of the African Champions League between Zamalek and Ahly, which happen to be the two best football teams in Egypt. It was impressive to see a stadion filled with white (Zamalek), red (Ahly) and black (massive police force). Ahly won and will play in the finals end of the month... some more fun to look forward to with 22 men and a ball ;-)
Yes, Ramadan is a peaceful month! And yet, .... fasting does not just mean not eating and not drinking between sunrise and sunset, it also means no sex (for married peole, for the unmarried this goes all the time, not just in Ramadan), no unpure thoughts, no cigarettes, not getting rude or upset with other people, no, no, no... As you can imagine, all these nos are ment to improve the peope, but it also causes a lot of frustation. Also imagine Cairo's traffic, chaotic as always, and the taxi drivers are not allowed to curse!
So sometimes it happens that one person runs into another one, the first one is not happy, since he is not allowed to curse he makes a funny face, the second one thinks " i am fasting, i am hungry and this idiot is annoying me" and he finally says "What?", the second one will get upset: " don't let me break my fast because of you", the first one will reply "breaking your fast because of me? you are the one who will make me break my fast" and sooner as you know you have a nice fist fight, tens of curious people standing around and watching....
By the way, this year I decided to fast as well, so be careful what you say to me between 4am and 17:30 ;-)))
A couple of days after I came back to Cairo, Ramadan started. Ramadan is the holy month in the Muslim religion. Everyone is supposed to work on him/herself, behave better than usual, ban "bad" thoughts, control anger, act in charitable way, etc. Plus every good Muslim is fasting from sun rise to sunset. As people here explained to me, it is ment to teach self discipline, but also let normal people feel how it can be to be poor, not being able to eat or drink when you feel like it.
This month is very special in many perspectives, once per year Egyptians show that they can be punctual if they want ;-): the food is ready on the table when the muezzins are announcing sunset by their singing "Allahu Akbar" from Cairo's minarets. People can be found sleeping at their working place, as they stayed up until 4am to take a last meal before sunrise. The streets are nicely decorated and restaurants are booming at night, taking whole streets and squares with their plastic chairs and tables - For once the police does not say anything and will be happy to join for a meal. A bit everywhere in the city you can find colorful "Ramadan tents", set up by mosques or rich people. Inside you can find long tables and benches, where poor people or anyone, who is in the area and cant make it home in time, are invited to have "Iftar" (breaking fast at sunset). Everything is going very slow but you can also feel the special atmosphere all around.
19th of September I left again for a short week in Prag, celebrating AEGEE's 20th anniversary. It was very nice to meet old and new friends I had the chance to make in this wonderful organisation. (For those of you, who still don't know what AEGEE is: www.aegee.org)
The first days in Cairo I've been very busy. For those of you who heard about my initial plans of having my own business; unfortunately this plan did not come true, because of organisational problems.... BUT, I am not giving up ;-).... I am hunting after new opportunities and hopefully I can soon anounce the successful implementation of my plans.
"Welcome home" This is what I heard from my Egyptian friends, once I came back from my vacation in Europe...
As I flew to Sharm El Sheikh, I took the occasion and spent the first couple of days in lovely Dahab, just relaxing before going back to hectic but fascinating Cairo.
I arrived in Cairo mid of September 2004 to study a Arabic. I stayed in the New Palace Hotel, where i am also helping out in the Marketing and tour organisation for the partner travel agency Echo Travel.... So what have i been doing? I studied, worked a bit, travelled (Luxor, Aswan, Alexandria, Bahareyya Oasis, Dahab....) and got to know country, culture and people.... lots of nice, weird, funny, scarry, interesting storries to tell.... maybe I'll manage to write them down one day. In August I went back to Europe for one month and came back to Egypt again.... This is where this blog should start.... let the show begin ;-)
obviously I have neglected this blog a bit.... my initial idea was to update it with all the things I have done so far, but now one year is over.... and still nothing here.
So I decided to start over again... this blog will document my 2nd year in Cairo then, malesh for the first year (maybe one day i'll find the time for it).
Have fun reading :)