Archive for December, 2010

The time I rode the women’s only metro

In the past, I’ve generally considered myself lucky if I
ended up in a public space with a high concentration of women. Ever
been to a party with 10:1 guy to girl ratio? Lame. I will recount
the events as I remember them. Erica and I decided to take the
metro to the Cairo opera house to buy tickets for the nutcracker
this week. We’ve only taken the metro here once before and that was
with Sarah, our american Egyptian roommate. Of course, we first end
up riding in the wrong direction. Erica catches this and we rush
out at the next stop and hurriedly hop on the metro going in the
other direction. Erica and I chat over the next few stops, pointing
out the irony of the nun standing next t the completely veiled
Muslim woman. It is at this point that she notices the
extraordinary number of woman in the car. Turns out, 100% of the
people in the car were women. Well, almost 100%. I flash back to
Sarah’s warning a few months ago. “If you take the metro, make sure
you don’t get on the women only cars.” FML. At the next station
Erica and I throw ourselves out of the exclusive women’s car and
into the accepting arms of 1000 smelly Egyptian men in the mixed
car. Awesome. So let this be a lesson to all of you males reading
this post. If you find yourself surrounded by a multitude of
Egyptian women, don’t feel too good about it. Cheers, Dale


The great pastry debate and the art of irrelevant discussion

This past weekend Erica and I were invited to a hanukkah party in Alexandria and being the devout chosen people that we are, we of course accepted the invitation and found ourselves enjoying latkes with a bunch of Fulbright teachers and a few others.

One of the guests, Katie (I don’t remember her real name), was visiting from Boston and she brought up that she recently quit her 6 figure job as a statistician at a pharmaceutical company to attend culinary school and become a pastry chef. It turns out she hated her old job and wanted to take her life in a completely new direction. Ballsy.

The conversation eventually turned to the topic of pastries and away from her quarter life crisis. Though everyone initially thought we understood exactly what a pastry was, we realized we needed a more precise definition. The entire group of intelligent Fulbright teachers joined in.

“It is any sort of sweet flaky baked good.”

“Not all pastries are sweet. Cheese croissants aren’t sweet. And what about cakes? Are they pastries?”

“No way cakes are pastries. Cakes are a separate category.”

“But you can find cakes at pastry shops!”

On and on the debate went. Even wikipedia didn’t help us (this article needs more citations).

We concluded that it didn’t matter and that we would still consume all manners of tasty baked goods.

Throughout the debate it was interesting to catch glimpses of the participants personalities. Some were meticulous about the criteria for a pastry, some were hesitant to exclude certain types of baked goods out of fear of being elitist, and some just enjoyed witnessing an irrelevant debate by a bunch of intelligent Fulbright teachers.

In the end I feel that this irrelevant conversation maybe wasn’t so irrelevant at all. Though the whole thing took less than 20 minutes, I learned a lot about my new acquaintances and enjoyed their company. What more can you expect from a Hanukkah party in Egypt?

Feel free to start the great pastry debate in the comments section.