Monday, August 27, 2007

Our new digs

Talk about royal treatment. I was picked up at the airport, whisked thru customs, and driven to my new apartment building by about 4am on Friday morning... only to find the street pitch dark.

"Ya doctoor Yasir! Zere is no electric," said a voice. My eyes adjusted to a short, very dark dude - Mohamed from faculty housing. So we spent an hour outside on the street, me sweating, Mohamed telling me how he'd worked for the the university since he was fourteen.

Lights came on after about 1/2 an hour, and I was ushered into an elevator, and taken up to the 14th floor to our new home in Cairo.

"Zis is very unusual doctoor Yasir," said the other housing officer who gave me a tour of the place as I staggered around (no sleep for 24 hours - can't sleep on planes). "Zamalek is full of embassies. Special area. Lights go off only in poor areas. Very unusual."

Zamalek, my new neighbourhood, is on an island in the middle of the Nile. It's supposed to be the greenest part of the city, and quite posh.

In the past, it's been home to the city's aristocrats, princesses, businessmen, etc. There are stories about nazi sympathizers, as well as wealthy jews living around here.

More thoughts on the place as I discover it. Been walking around a fair bit (it's pretty small - smaller than Toronto's downtown core).

My street is quite interesting - the Cuban embassy used to be in my building, the Libyans are right beside us.

And pre-wwII, the Deutsches Archaelogisches Institut used to be about 5 doors down. It closed during the war. The villa was bought by a Jewish businessman, who later leased it to a former queen of Egypt.

Then, it was sold to the Canadian government, and turned into the ambassador's residence.

Don't have a cell phone or an internet connection at home yet. Things take time here.

Here's an article that helped me figure this place out. Here's another.
All pictures in this post copyright Yasir Khan 2007.

8 comments:

rkim said...

your new place sounds lovely!!!
but what's with the "doctoor yasir" business?
I hope yer lovin it so far.

xoxox
Rosa

s said...
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s said...
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YK said...

rosa, "doctoor" is colloquial for "doctor." that's what they call their professors here - doesn't matter if you're not a doctoor. this city is crazy, but fantastic. and i'm having a great time.

saira, yes, the place is totally not my style, but it's 3 times the size of our toronto place, and we'll cozy it up by the time you get here. what happened in afghanistan?

s said...

oh, there's always lots of sad news from around the world...

better to just focus on the happy things in life, like your wonderful new apartment! can't wait to visit.

Ameera said...

hey you, i am SO jealous. i want to be there so badly. hopefully i can make it out for a visit next year. in fact, i think i'm going to start planning that trip over the winter. you're even living in my favorite place in the city, zamalek was where we'd stay when we visited as kids. mom grew up in that neighbourhood. lots of love to sufia. :)

Anonymous said...

yasir! how are ya how are ya?! i came across your blog, didn't even know you had one going...it sounds absolutely wonderful and I love your apartment! Your wife is one tough lady to get ahold of but i shall prevail. I assume you've started your job, how's that going?

Yasir Khan said...

anonymous, who the heck are you, and why are you trying to get a hold of my wife?