Egyptian Economy, Arabic Lessons, Koshari and City Stars Stalker
Cairo Travel Blog› entry 11 of 11 › view all entries
July 18th, 2006 – by: mchesus
Anyway, the Egyptian Banking Institute may have been the most boring lecture I've ever sat. I wanted to cry. I tried doodling, resting, changing positions in my chair, even taking intensive notes, but I couldn't hardly listen. They tried to explain the gap of the poor and the rich and how the currency (the Egyptian Pound) is faring. I know these are important things, and I would now love to know the answers, but it was presented in such a boring fashion over several hours that I would have preferred to get a tooth pulled.
We left the Egyptian Bank and had some Arabic Lessons. I don't know if I have previously written about these lessons, but they were told by an amazing guy named Chris. He was a Georgetown alum who had just arrived from a year in Kuwait. He was young and extremely funny, even awkward at times. He would prepare excellent power points for us, and truly try and make us learn the language. Usually we just made him tell us stories about an his journeys as American in the Middle East.
We had an EXCELLENT lunch at el omda. I had koshari - a mixture of rice, noodles, onion, lentils, and tomato sauce and (because I was feeling awfully ambitious) fatir. A fatir is a fluffy pan-cooked pastry, a cross between a puff pastry and a crêpe sometimes served as a savory as well as a sweet.
Our two group leaders, affectionately named Mama and Baba, played lots of tricks on us. They were some of the best people I've ever met. Great travellers and great people. On this day Mama convinced us that Baba - who was finishing up at uni and only needed to pass a presentation - failed and would not graduate from uni. One other group member and I started crying...we felt at fault because he had spent more time with us (leading us through the city, taking us to the hospital, etc) than he had studying. Of course, we had just been taken for a ride......Either way, incredible group leaders that inspire me to lead trips myself.
After that we headed to City Stars, a HUGE mall on the outskirts of Cairo (near Nasr City) where all the teens hang out like everyday. It is full of expensive European-inspired clothing that is not entirely well made. Either way, it was fun and it was a cultural experience. I had never seen mannequins with hijabs before! I made a big cultural faux pas: I looked a guy that I didn't know in the eye as I walked by. He stared back, and then switched escalators to follow me and my Tennessean friend for fifteen minutes. I from then on realized how women never meet the eyes of strangers. Oops!
One nice brand was "newman", they made nice cotton, with nice polos. Some even had cute camels on them. The top floor of City Stars (probably like level 8) is the mini "Khan al Khalili". It is lower quality and less fun than the actual market place; don't waste your time there. There is a lovely restraunt and shisha bar next door that is worth checking out.
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