Geertjan's Blog

  • January 3, 2006

Random Thoughts from Egypt

Geertjan Wielenga
Product Manager
  • The closer your coffee approaches the texture of mud, the better it tastes.
  • No beer, against religion, but sheesha has same (better) effect. (Example of how life gets around religion.)
  • Everything is dirt cheap, depending on how well-honed your bargaining skills are.
  • At first you don't realize it, but everything is available, if you know where to find the tiny shop that specializes in it.
  • A new Arabic word is easier to remember once you've written it a few 100 times.
  • The important thing is to only make new mistakes.
  • A very sedentary life, cheap plastic chairs outside each tiny shop, with the owner perched on it. (Cheap plastic chairs everywhere.) (Cheap plastic chair companies must make a killing.)
  • Learning the formal Arabic sucks a bit because you can't talk to normal people without them thinking you're mad. (If you don't speak Arabic at all, they only think you're stupid.)
  • Satellite dishes on rooftops praying to Allah. (Preying on Allah?)
  • Reading "The Heron" helps to explain a lot.
  • Pyramids are final proof that government should intervene when a handful of people have way too much money while others have none.
  • The pharaohs' contribution to pyramids was to direct that they be built and that they be buried inside of them. These starkly beautiful monstrosities are testaments to their petulance. Our admiration of them is testament to our awe of meaningless power and the unlikely event that we'll ever be able to rid ourselves of it. (Corollary: If Tom Cruise et al don't have their money taken from them by government decree, our civilization will be looked at in shocked amazement, in the same way as one stands in shocked amazement when surrounded by the insane splendor of the pharaohs, as preserved by the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.)
  • Walking around a desert landscape with three massive pyramids is like being in a surreal painting of a surreal planet with bizarre geometeries.
  • Camels are weird, as if thrown together from leftover lumps of thick mud. (Clods of very strong coffee?)
  • Maybe camels are reincarnated pharaohs--that would explain their haughty demeanour, beautiful ugliness, and outcast status in the animal kingdom. (Further evidence that animals are smarter than people.)
  • Drinking four cups of coffee (just so that you can practise saying "another one, please" in Arabic) right before your next 3 hour Arabic lesson is probably not a good idea.

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Comments ( 2 )
  • Robin Wilton Tuesday, January 3, 2006
    hi Geertjan; on sheesha... when I was in Jordan last year I was told that there's a growth market in new flavoured tobaccoes to smoke in your narghileh. Apparently one of the most interesting is bubble-gum flavour (!) Have you tried it yet? I assume that would make it a Hubba-Bubba hubble-bubble ;\^)
  • Geertjan Thursday, January 5, 2006
    Hi Robin, no I haven't heard of the Hubba-Bubba hubble-bubble... Maybe it hasn't reached Alexandria yet! The tobacco that Mahmoud puts in my sheesha has a kind of mildly liquorice aftertaste, but I imagine that's what most sheesha aftertastes are like... Somehow Jordan hasn't really attracted me so far, in terms of north African countries; thus far I've only been to Morocco and Egypt (of the north African countries). By the way, have you read anything by Paul Bowles? Very interesting writer on this part of the world.
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