Today I went on the first major shopping trip I have had in Cairo. For over two months I have been shaking and been unable to sleep due to a distinct lack of abusing my debit cards, and now I feel strangely content and peaceful. Perhaps it's due to the lovely turquoise color I seem to be on a kick with lately?
Yes, today I bought two pairs of turquoise shoes and a bag to match! I never thought I'd see the day, but when in Cairo it's all about appreciating bright colors. For whatever reason, it seems like unusual color combinations and saturated shades of colors are more popular here than back home, which I am totally digging. I am a complete shoe addict by nature, and flew out of Seattle leaving boxes of shoes behind that probably totalled about 30 pairs of high heels in all sorts of weird colors and unique styles. That is AFTER cutting things down to the ones I absolutely had to keep! The thing is that I love my high heels, but they need to be a little quirky or interesting to catch my attention and make me plop down the $ to make them mine.
That's why I'm pleased to report that in Cairo, it is all too easy to find an excuse to plop down 75-100LE ($13.50-$18) at this store we went to called "Club Aldo" in Maadi for a decent pair of shoes. Before I knew it the floor around me and Kara was littered with many pairs of "maybe, yeah definitely, I want it in a size 37..." I was good, and only bought three pairs, plus the purse. Cairo is a shoe destroyer, between the dust, sand, pollution, extensive amounts of walking, quality of the sidewalks, so on and so forth, so I don't actually feel too bad about buying a bunch of shoes because most of mine from the US are now on the way out or have already ended up biting the dust (heh).
After paying, we both raised pleading eyes to the face of my semi-horror-struck boyfriend to take us to go clothes shopping "just for a little bit." So it was off to the Grand Mall in Maadi to buy a couple more things, including two skirts for me. Lately I've been seeing a lot of girls around town in these full-length denim skirts and I just thought it looked damn cool enough to acquire a couple of my own. Skirts are great in Cairo in the summer because they get less hot and less crotch-stickagey. Luckily the store also included free hemming! Hooray for being 5' nothing.
The mall was cool and had a little bit of everything without being tooo huge. Okay, maybe the several-story fountain was a bit much, but who am I to judge? I haven't been to a lot of malls around town, but I would recommend this one to any foreigners as it has a variety of shops and a lot of different things to offer, including a couple tempting-looking shoe stores of course. Here's a random smattering of some of the shoes I brought to Cairo: (from the top going left) new flats from Club Aldo, holographic zebra-print flip flops for the beach, tourist sandals (a must-have in Cairo, GET SOME NOW if you are coming), basic black pumps, new turquoise heels, new turquoise flats (gotta have all the bases covered), Guess heels. Not that anyone cares!
Okay, I admit I have been so, so lazy about so many things since I've arrived. Egypt makes it very easy to say, "weeell I'll be here for a year and it's just sooo hooot...and well I'll do that later when I get up at 2pm tomorrow." It's still not a great excuse, but yeah I've been slacking on my Arabic pretty bad. However, I met this cool American guy at the previously featured Goal Cafe a couple weeks back who basically has been giving me pep-talks/lectures on getting serious about my Arabic. It's what I need, and he was also kind enough to lend me this book, "Kallimni 'Arabi" which is the second in a series on colloqial Arabic. I got the entire thing photocopied and bound for 27LE, which is a deal considering how much it would be normally!
I like this series so far because of a couple different factors:
-It's all written in Arabic. Seriously. No English except for the short glossary at the back and the introduction, which makes it sometimes difficult, but it makes you try so much harder and your reading improves much quicker. However, this makes it next to impossible for someone to use who doesn't know the basics of reading and writing.
-There's a variety of lessons. Not only do you get vocabulary drills from the beginning, but also drills on pronunciation, writing, reading, and conjugation. It's a very smart system, but you have to really commit and take things a bite at a time.
-The audio CD is fabulous. It's clear, precise, and features lessons on stresses within words and normal conversation structures which is excellent. Something I find people neglect a lot is the pronunciation of certain letters, and the stress patterns that make you sound more "authentic."
In addition, I'm telling people that every time we hang out they need to teach me 1 or 2 words that I'll use a lot! None of these really transliterate at all well, or even translate well, but from yesterday I have "gazma" or shoe, "mahal" or store, and "ya salam" which can mean a lot of different things depending on your inflection and head movements. I was the laughingstock of probably half a cafe last night working on the different ways of saying that one!
After much emailing back and forth with AUC I finally have my class schedule! I will be taking:
INTRO TO COLLOQUIAL ARABIC (the one for people with 1 year of fusha but no 'ameyya like me)
LITERATURE & GENDER
INTERMEDIATE MACROECONOMIC THEORY
COMPARATIVE POLITICS OF THE MIDDLE EAST
POLITICAL & SOCIAL THOUGHT IN THE MODERN ARAB WORLD
That last one sounds waaay to sexy for a junkie for inter-Arab politics like me. It's a full load, as per usual, but I'm hoping the fact that I'm try to incorporate Arabic into my daily life anyway will help make that feel less like a class and just more of my normal routine that I'll be happy to grapple with.
Anyway, I will leave you all this random image from sitting in rush-hour Cairo traffic this evening on our way to shopping:
Coming soon: I move to Maadi! Actual BELLY DANCE news!!