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McDonalds and the Daily Show

August 26, 2006

First: the video of Ramses moving down my street

*

Arabic is everywhere here, of course, there’s English as well, but in the same way you would find Spanish in Miami. So in order to not get overwhelmed, I’ve started looking for the comfort of the English language where ever I can. Today, partially out of ease and partially because it was my first time walking in Cairo by myself (although near the university, in broad daylight) I went to McDonalds. I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea. I hate McDonalds, and over the past few years, I’ve successfully weaned myself off its salty french fries (I am partial to an occassional McFlurry, but it’s ice milk and candy, hard to get that wrong).

And yet, I found myself ordering Chicken McNuggets and fries and a coke. The chicken was still the mystery meat that US McDonald’s phased out years ago, the fries were too greasy and the coke was flat. I would have been better off with something called the McArabia, which I believe was McDonaldized fafafel. I came back to the hotel and ordered some baba ghanouch to go with the bread I bought at the grocery store the other day. A much better dinner.
After dinner (at about 11 p.m.) one of my roommates turned on CNN international. A very nice woman in a British accent told us the news, and then she said: “Next up on CNN international, The Daily Show”.

I couldn’t believe my ears. Surely she didn’t mean that Daily Show, the Comedy Central franchise maker, Jon Stewart for president Daily Show? But yes, yes it was. The Daily Show does a weekly “global edition” for CNN international. I watched it all. It wasn’t a particularly good episode, but it was The Daily Show, in Cairo. I may have been jumping up and down in my seat.

Other highlights for today: an Egyptian police officer telling us “you’re going to get lost” and then not getting lost (almost). Trying to ask for directions in Arabic, getting a response in Arabic and then my eyes glazing over when the police officer replied in Arabic I certainly didn’t know. “You know English” he asked. “Yes, yes.” we all responded. Turns out we were going in the right direction after all; basically stopping traffic in order for us all to get across the road with the universal symbol of “stop” and a glare of “you don’t know want to know what happens if you hit me”.

Survival Arabic class was excellent, if the seats were a little hard. I hope I don’t have any of those classrooms for normal classes.

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