I have air conditioning. It's Tuesday night (technically Wednesday morning), I arrived on Sunday, and tonight is the first night I have air conditioning in my room. I arrived to my flat Sunday night after a long trip and met my roommate--she seems super nice. The flat is incredibly central, off of Talaat Harb, which, for those unfamiliar with Cairo, is about three minutes walk from Tahrir Square, of the revolutionary fame. I wanted to live Downtown, as opposed to the areas that are more "expat-y" because I wanted to break out of the expat bubble. If I'm going to live in Egypt, then damnit, I'm going to live in Egypt.
But the AC in my room did not work. I was so tired the first night I just aimed a (not working-well) fan at my face and passed out, sweating the whole night. I woke up around noon, thinking something along the lines of, "WTF did I get myself into?" I went to see the landlord, who said a repairman would come tomorrow to fix it. Meanwhile, he gave me the keys to another flat, whose AC wasn't working either. I texted him telling him this is unacceptable and I'm moving unless the AC is fixed tomorrow. He called, apologized profusely for the "disrespect" (you were disrespecting me?? Badeen), and said if it was not fixed tonight he would buy me another.
I did not mention to him that now my roommate and I want to move into the other flat, provided they fix the AC. It is a little more expensive, but still cheap for the area and has these amazing balconies. And shower curtains. And garbage cans. And coffee cups! All things this flat is lacking.
The guy literally gave my AC unit a shower. My room feels cool right now, so hey, I guess whatever works.
Our doorman was helping the repairman. Seeing the interaction between the two really made the social distinctions in Egypt evident. The repairman was wearing nice Western clothes (not like in the States--in fact, here the job title translates to "engineer"), nice hair cut, generally well-put together. Spoke no English but I could understand his Arabic. Our doorman wears traditional garb, I think something is wrong with his eyes, and I can't for the life of me understand what he's saying. But the repairman made the doorman carry the AC in and out of my room on his back. The doorman also was carrying all of his tools, and generally acting very subservient.
Yesterday, my one free day between arrival and work, was hot and stressful. I was trying to work out the AC, went to another neighborhood for a proper grocery store, and visited a few gyms. That night I met up with my friend Hiba, who I met on a flight to Beirut. She coincidentally was in Cairo this week--definitely one of those people who you meet and just click with. That's why I love traveling and crossing paths with people whom you would never meet otherwise, sharing experiences and stories and keeping in touch long after.
And today--my first day at work! So far I really enjoy it. I'm sitting in a room with three other girls, all Egyptian, doing similar work. They said after a month or so I can move to a separate office, which I find kind of weird. They have all been there longer, know the ropes better--why should I get the separate office? Makes me uneasy. I joined a Gold's Gym on a permanent boat on the Nile--SO NICE! I love it and am so excited. I think there is even Zumba! After the gym I met up with a SAISer at her friend's houseboat. Yes, a houseboat.
Now it is past 1am and it is time for bed. Goodnight!