Posts Tagged ‘weather’

Angst! Where art thou in thy city?!

What ever happened to the dark, dreary Alexandria that I remember? The one with angsty waves, driving winds, perpetually whipping rain? Dust clouds? Oppressive heat?

So much cooler than a horse. Step aside, Mr. Lauren.

These days the weather is just gorgeous enough to warrant wandering around in polo shirts (Mobaco, the kind with a camel jockey instead of RL Polo’s traditional horse). In fact, strolls on the Corniche are making a comeback as I find myself continually being roused earlier and earlier by the sunshine and needing some air around ten-ish; mornings usually consist of Latin, Arabic, and grading tests, followed by breakfast, a short nap, and a shot at writing — if I have the energy. I feel like one of Irwin’s Orientalist monks in Dangerous Knowledge (which, orientalist ladies and gentlemen, you should definitely read).

The annual International Book Fair has come to the Bibliotheca this month — a scaled-down, Alexandria-sized version that sprawls over the fairground next to the university’s law school in Azarita. It’s pretty incredible, but a little overwhelming. I’ve managed to find some worthwhile adds to my list of Arabic novels to read, culled mainly from this website, which is run by a self-proclaimed “booker” of excellent taste and keen eye. Books are on the cheap direct from the publishers, and I managed to find a couple of nicer Bahaa Taher novels for less than LE 15  apiece, as well as a decent color copy of The Little Prince in Arabic (Al Amir As-Saghir, in case you’re wondering). I’ve also taken up John’s advice and bought an Arabic-to-Arabic dictionary, which is proving to be a pain in the butt as far as reference is concerned (it’s no Hans, believe me), though I’m sure it’ll prove its worth over time. As for everything else, it seems like everyone’s got a copy of Sahih Muslim and Bukhari, as well as pirate copies of the Nights, and it’s all pretty tempting. How on earth I’m going to get these things home I have no idea. But it might be a wise investment to pick up a few things I’m reading about in Irwin, which is pretty much a goldmine of comparative literature topics for translation studies.

Speaking of which, I hear back from Ph D programs this week (or so). Shoot me now. I hate waiting.

Oh, and I hereby proclaim success at culinary endeavors; last night I managed to make polpo a la gallego, a Spanish calamari dish which I have never made before in my life. It was incredible, if I say so myself — so incredible that I’m posting the recipe here, which is actually kind of easy. I’ve resolved to cook things that are a little more exotic, seeing how we have a slew of resources on the cheap (three pounds of squid for seven bucks, dude), and more spices than you can shake a stick at.


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At Tom Rumi’s suggestion, we sought out a supposed Greek dive bar in Ibrahimiyya that he had been in once with Tom Taweel back in TAFL days; all that said Rumi could remember was that it was somewhere in between Sharia Abukir and the tramline. It didn’t take us long, but we found it.

It’s a villa. Set back from the street with Greek signs at the gates and a large striped flagpole, the front steps are painted in what an old guidebook described as “bumblebee columns” with the silhouette of a big, black, double-headed eagle above the door. Walking up to the house, you begin to doubt yourself and wonder if you’re about to walk into someone’s home, but as soon as the door is opened, you’re reassured. Tables with stained tablecloths, an eccentric assortment of cheap salt-and-pepper shakers, and a few heavyset old men contemplating their 10 LE Stellas and cigarettes. Greek posters on the bright blue walls and a gilt-edged, giant mirror. Lots of cats, which is pretty unfortunate for me, because I hate cats (allergic). That doesn’t stop the french fries and calamari from being the best in town — and better yet, the closest to Sporting by a long shot. John and I have been stopping in every now and then ever since the discovery. No Greeks as of yet, but the population is local and quiet.

Leads me to next point: on Halloween night, John and I headed down to what shall henceforth be called “al-Younani” (the Greek) with a few others, including a gentlemen named Amr. Amr is a lawyer, balding, a skinny man of an indeterminate age, but I think he’s a lot older than the people he hangs out with. He peeks out from behind thick glasses and tells rambling stories of relatively fluid narrative, though sometimes he gets his gerunds and tenses mixed up (“Do you like the cook?” instead of “Do you like the cooking?”),  switches out his letters for others (“pop the crotch,” instead of “pop the clutch”), or mistakes prepositions (“The first time I was invited in a girl”). Initially, I was quite annoyed by him: he has a habit of appearing at places at the very mention of his name — an eerie quality which would make the devil envious. Two years back, he would just follow the Manchester crowd around: appearing at the Sayed Darwish Theater some nights and just tagging along. It appears he’s taken up drinking, and quite frequently appears at the Spitfire just to make sure that he’s not missing out on anything. I think I’ve either just gotten used to him or he’s gotten considerably more tolerable, because I think I’m beginning to like his nutty stories about German marathon champions that fall in love with him and demand his affections in the middle of the Carrefour Cilantro.

Got sick, though: must have been the cats or the change of weather, but I ended up going home relatively early and spent the rest of yesterday sleeping and sniffling up a storm, sipping mint tea, and trying to make the recovery before today, when my first classes of the month start at 3 PM and end at 10 — a real marathon run compared to what I’ve been doing beforehand. So far, so good: I’m still sniffly, but I expect that’s just the weather: it was gloriously rainy and windy yesterday on the way to Anfushi (dinner) and it warranted wearing my raincoat. Sick, yes, but happy as a clam for the return of “Durrell weather” and a rain-swept Corniche.

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