In other news, I’m off for adventures in Sinai for a few days, and I’m going computer-less.
Got some big blogging plans when I return, insha’allah
I never expected to confront ice in Cairo.
Yet here I am at 11 a.m. On a Friday morning (equivalent to a U.S. Saturday) madly hacking away at a mound of it, filling up my sink with frozen chips and mopping up its watery remains from my kitchen floor.
It all started the very day I moved into my apartment. I couldn’t tell you the nature of the problem, but a couple men were standing around the kitchen do some repair work on our fridge.
After they left we (AJ, his friend and I) stood in the kitchen, examining a suspicious black rubber strip abandoned against the wall. It seemed to be the suction, which should keep the fridge properly shut. Predictably the fridge wasn’t quite sealing when we shut it.
AJ, having the advantage of speaking Arabic quite well and being male, sighed in disgust and said something about telling the landlord to hire new repair guys.
That was that. The fridge seemed to serve it’s purpose for me and I didn’t think much of it until a couple weeks later.
Karen and I were hanging in the kitchen, cooking dinner and chatting.
I thought AJ ate my chocolate, she said, and I was really annoyed because he used to eat it all the time.
And then I realized the ice ate it.
The ice in the fridge ate your chocolate?
Yeah, look, I can see it.
She opened the fridge and pointed to the back. A chunk of ice was growing from the top of our fridge and expanding outward. We could see the chocolate wrapper, helplessly enveloped in the thick cold block.
From that day on we watched the ice grow, putting big things in its path to slow it’s progress.
Both AJ and Karen left last week. (Karen back to Germany and AJ for three weeks in the States)
Before leaving AJ wisely advised me to stop buying food.
After Karen leaves, because she’s the one who has the most food in there, we’ll have to take care of that ice, he said.
He started explaining something about condensation, pressure and air flows, but interrupted himself.
You’re a smart girl. You know all that physics.
Sadly, AJ didn’t get the dates right.
Karen and AJ left the same day, leaving the ice and I the sole growing inhabitants in our flat.
Last night, over some delicious Eritrean food, airconditioner repairs (another humorous subject) came up.
“What about I refrigerator repairman? I think I need one,” I confessed. “Yesterday the ice ate some jelly.”
To my surprise my refrigerator saga was not quite as unique as I thought.
The same thing happened to my fridge in San Francisco, my legal director, Stephanie, said. Someone said their old fridge in Cairo used to do the same thing.
Apparently from NY, DC and Boston, I’ve lived a sheltered-fridge-life.
The advice: chip as much as you please away and let the rest melt.
As I hammer away at the block of ice, I close my eyes as cool chips fly in all directions. It’s really quite refreshing.
And who knows.
Maybe I’ll even get some chocolate out of the deal.
My Arabic teacher, Nancy, has asked us to keep our eyes open. You’ll notice all sorts of changes as Ramadan approaches, she said.
From a growing amount of pastries, dried fruit, and special Ramadan lanterns, to clothing vendors shouting something, of which the only word I could decipher was “Ramadan”–Cairenes are seemingly in a frenzy preparing for the month-long holiday.
Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is the holiest month because it’s when Muhammad Hussein, the prophet of Islam, is believed to have revealed the Koran.
Thinking a month long holiday sounds fun?
From what I’ve learned thus far, a theme of the month is discipline.
“In Ramadan, we don’t only abstain from food, drink, smoking, marital sex, but also we abstain form all kinds of immoral acts and obscenity,”Wrote Dr. Muhammad M. Abu Laylah, a professor at Azhar University, on Islamonline.net.
“Our social, religious, charitable acts are combined in our fasting. So, the month of Ramadan is an intensive course in physical and spiritual hygiene.”
Ok. Really think about this. No water in the 100+ heat and no cigarettes for the chain-smoking taxi-drivers. Though just to clarify, “In Ramadan,” refers to the fasting period–sunrise to sunset only. The prophet specifically permits marital sex outside these hours.
While the fast is a personal challenge, in the land of bowabs (doormen) who monitor all comings and goings, neighbors who all know each other and generations of families who live together, or course the holiday is very community oriented.
As fasting is not an option but required of Muslims (there are exceptions for illnesses, travelers, pregnant women, soldiers and young children) it becomes an obligatory social, as well as religious event.
“(Fasting) for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (i.e. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a poor person (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know.” (2:183-84)
The countdown until August 22nd is on.
This is just the teaser