Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Double update since it's been really really long (yep, there's a new post below this one as well, it isn't all child-friendly though, so I'd advice against reading it if you're less than 15 or so) - blogger is acting screwy back home for some reason, so I'm posting from school.

About the weather here

It's not all sunny and dandy, in fact, an american told me "when I got here I was constantly worrying about the overcast and wondering why it never seemed to start raining - that is, before I discovered that that was no overcast, it's smog".

When you come to a city that's the capital city of a third world country and also the most densely populated city in Africa (8th in the world I think) - it's only reasonable to expect smog, but I didn't really think of it. Other rumors say that living in Cairo is equivalent to smoking a pack a day in terms of how well you're treating your lungs - this sounds a bit too catchy(but not too crazy) to be true in my opinion.

It's rained twice in Cairo while I've been here, in case you were wondering....

The weather is allready approaching warm enough for t-shirts, in fact I see several of them in the room with me now. At this pace, Cairo will be insufferable to me around may when it's time for finals - I'm getting more sure that I'll not be staying here for the summer. I hear it's snowing in Norway :D

The other day I also witnessed winds filled with sand from the desert. It was nowhere near as dramatic as in the movies (ie it was not like a beige snow-storm), but more like a fog - in fact the main difference between that day and days with heavy smog was that the fog was yellow in stead of blue.

It's been a while since I've had my camera out for a walk, so I think I might do that this weekend.
Okay, time to do a proper post, seeing that it's been a small while.

Some of the things I like so far:

- The people here are much more open and sociable here than back home. Even the yanks. I've also come to understand that there is a city in the states that's almost exactly like Bergen, this city is called Seatle.

- The weather is warm and pleasant in the winter. Not a cloud nor a flake of gray and slushy snow in sight. The migratory birds have the right idea, and I'm starting to get it too.

- The lecturers are much more opinionated here, this may have something to do with the fact that it's an American school. I'm not entirely sure what to think of it, but a meeting with another academic tradition is always good.

- My flatmates are both members of interesting groups here in Cairo, one of them is gay and the other is a half-egyptian muslim who's moved here for a few years from the US. I shall use this cynically to squeeze out more information about the society here than I otherwise could during this short stay.

- Just around the corner I can get good food that's about enough for a supper or a lunch for one guinea (between 1 and 2 NOK) Mashed beans or falafel with vegitables in a kind of thin pitabread.

- While the crime rate is probaly higher than in Bergen, it's still amazingly low for it to be the most densely populated city in Africa! I think most people here are very trustable.... except if it's a business relationship....

Which brings us over to the things I'm not too crazy about:

- Maybe it gets better on levels where more money is handled in private business, but as I've experienced so far, there are quite a few people here who'll madly overprice things and try to rip you off in any way possible, short of doing something illegal. Cab drivers are usually like that, papyrus/perfume-salesmen are always like that and professional appartment-hunters are sometimes like this as well. This warning goes triple if you're european or north american, as that means you're basically seen as a walking pile of cash with no clue as to what things cost. That said, if you get ripped off here - especially after this warning - you really have no one to blame but yourself.

- Politically I'm not all that surprised here, nor really over the society. The things that surprised me the most were the crime rate and the fact that 90% of the women here are circumcised. According to my friend Ole, who's a fair bit more educated in social anthropology than I am, the way it's done here (removal of the clitoris and little else) can be counted as "medium" on the horrible and inhuman scale as fare as female genital mutilation goes. I'm not surprised that freedom of the press (at least as far as newspapers go) is a joke, the "democracy" is almost beyond parody and that homosexuals are oppressed(illegal, and socially very unacceptable), but common.

- 15 credits at the AUC is waay too much when 6 of them are intensive arabic. I am working my ass off, and while I'm sure this is giving me something of a good work ethic and study methods that I can use back home - but it also happens to be a real pain in the stern.