Monday, October 4, 2010


I wondered when I took this picture whether the haze was just the heat or a combination of that plus city air.

It was in the 90's again today, like every day.  It is sunny every day.  It reminds me of the first week I lived in Tucson many years ago.  I woke up every morning, looked outside and said, "wow, another beautiful day!"  Then I learned it was like that every day.  We're told it rains in the winter, but we haven't seen a drop of rain since we got here.  (Sometimes there are drops from above, but it's always from the condensation of air conditioners hanging out of the windows.)

One day last week there was a lot of wind, so much so that it blew one of the glass windows in from our
enclosed balcony.  Fortunately, the window just popped out and leaned against the wall so it didn't break.  Jeff said he heard the Cairo airport was shut down for part of the day because of the wind.
The wind in a dessert climate is challenging because the sand and dust goes everywhere including in your eyes.

Normally the heat doesn't bother me much (though I'm not crazy about putting on sunscreen every single day), but today was really hot.  I learned in Arabic class that one way to talk about the weather is to say (phonetically), "al donia haar", which means literally, the universe is hot.  When it's really hot, you say, "al donia naar" ("Naar" means "fire").  Our Arabic teacher told us the weather in Cairo has changed over the years, getting hotter.  She said it used to be that by October, the weather would be lovely with people wearing a light jacket, but now October can be really hot like today.  The summer months have expanded and winter has become just the months of December and January, with the low temperatures being not as low as before.  It used to be that people would wear gloves and warm hats in winter months but now it's so warm that there might only be one day when you wear those and then only because you wanted to wear them because you bought them, not because you actually need to wear them.

The weather is hottest on the metro.  Usually the 'ladies' car isn't so bad since there's more space, but today it was packed.  It was so packed that it didn't even matter that I couldn't get close to a handle or poll to hold on to because there was nowhere to fall even if the train stopped short.  It was so hot that sweat was dripping down my face and legs nonstop.  I noted a few Egyptian ladies with kleenex wiping their brow.  One lady offered me some.

Getting off and on the metro when it is rush hour is something you need to gear up for usually, though this time getting off was easy because I was in the middle of this wave of people so I just allowed myself to be pushed along out the door.  Coming home from the metro after my class tonight though was more challenging.  You might think that the Ladies car would be a fairly gentle place, but during rush hour, some of the matronly older women are a force to contend with when you are trying to get out as they, as a wave, are trying to get in.  Tonight the wave entering the train came with such force that it knocked my computer bag right off my shoulder and I had to tug it out before the train door shut.

At least there is always something interesting to watch on the metro so the dripping heat passes by more quickly.  This afternoon I watched a woman snaking her way through the crowd selling clothes.  She had the seller's voice (-- kind of a nasal, repetitive droning) and she waved the clothes she was selling over her head.  I was pleased I could recognize one of the words from my arabic class last week:  Pantalon (pants), conveniently the same word as in Spanish so it was easy for me to remember.   The woman, who was covered with a headscarf, was also selling fancy black or colored bras and underclothing that looked like those short little teddies (if that is the right word) that were low-cut, pretty scant and one of them covered with sequins.  Other women, also in headscarves, where examining the clothing with interest.  

Speaking of this type of clothing, I've heard that belly-dancing is quite popular here, as well as occasional whirling dervishes.

One last point, to offer another slant on the title of this entry, "Hot", our Arabic teacher told us that a 'hot' looking woman here is nicknamed a "moza", which also means banana.

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